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December 10, 2010


Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) hosted a roundtable discussion on December 10 assessing a new report on the Nagorno Karabagh peace process and analyzing the recent OSCE Astana summit.  The roundtable, hosted jointly between ACNIS and the London Information Network on Conflict and State Building (LINKS), was attended by nearly fifty participants.  The guests consisted of representatives from international organizations and the diplomatic community in Yerevan, including from the United Nations and the OSCE, the Indian and Lithuanian ambassadors, and officials from the Brazilian, Romanian and U.S. embassies, as well as a number of leading experts, including Sergei Minasyan from the Caucasus Institute, Ara Sargsyan from the Geopolitical Academy and analysts from the office of the Armenian president and other state bodies and ministries, and representatives from civil society and the media.

Opening the roundtable, ACNIS Director Richard Giragosian welcomed the participants and explained that the event was only the latest in a series of ACNIS events aimed at “elevating the debate” and “raising public awareness and promoting deeper debate over issues of critical national importance.”  On behalf of the Center, Giragosian then welcomed the guest speaker, LINKS Executive Director Dennis Sammut, who released the findings of a survey his organization conducted examining the opinion of Armenian political parties and leading political figures on the Nagorno Karabagh conflict.  Giragosian presented copies of the 93-page LINKS report, which was based on a series of face-to-face interviews with Armenian politicians and political parties conducted in June 2010.

The ACNIS director stated that the study was timed with the launch of a new LINKS program entitled “Karabakh: The Big Debate,” during which the organization will “contribute to creating space for more discussion on the Karabagh issue in the region and beyond.”  The “second part of the study, reflecting the views of Azerbaijani political parties will also be published shortly,” he added.

Following Giragosian’s introduction, LINKS Executive Director Dennis Sammut then explained that “this study maps out the declared positions of the political parties and helps the reader to understand the domestic political context in which the Karabagh negotiations are taking place.”   He went on to note that although report’s findings “demonstrated the many entrenched and established views on the issue, the survey also brought out many interesting views of the Armenian political elite on both the nature of the conflict, as well as the conflict resolution process.”  Sammut then pointed out that what was “particularly interesting, was the broad support of Armenian politicians for civil society contribution to the peace process” and noted the “broad consensus amongst Armenian politicians that any settlement of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict needs, first and foremost, to take into account the views and the welfare” of the Armenians of Karabagh.

The survey also demonstrated “broad, though not unanimous, support for the Minsk Process as the best available format for negotiations of the settlement of the conflict,” with most political parties seeing “no alternative to the Minsk process.”  The report further confirmed that the “broad consensus (was) that Turkey could not play a role because of its outright support for Azerbaijan,” although many “political leaders want more EU engagement with the conflict settlement process and some expressed disappointment at the lack of proper EU engagement with the process.”  Sammut also noted that “many parties expressed the view that the authorities in Stepanakert should be a party to the negotiating process.”

Following the presentation of the report’s findings, Armen Torosyan, an expert from the opposition Heritage Party faction in the Armenian parliament, then assessed the recent OSCE summit and articulated his party’s recent legislative initiative calling for the Armenian recognition of the independence of the Mountainous Karabagh Republic.  After Torosyan, ACNIS Senior Analyst Manvel Sargsyan provided an analysis of the overall course of the OSCE peace process seeking to reach a resolution of the Karabagh conflict.  The participants then engaged in a lively and constructive discussion of the project aims and raised several key concerns.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) is a leading independent strategic research center located in Yerevan, Armenia.  As an independent, objective institution committed to conducting professional policy research and analysis, ACNIS strives to raise the level of public debate and seeks to broaden public engagement in the public policy process, as well as fostering greater and more inclusive public knowledge. Founded in 1994, ACNIS is the institutional initiative of Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Over the past fifteen years, ACNIS has acquired a prominent reputation as a primary source of professional independent research and analysis covering a wide range of national and international policy issues.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am; or visit www.acnis.am.

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