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May 19, 2011

ACNIS Explores the Karabagh Issue

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened a policy roundtable, entitled “The Karabagh Question in Armenia and International Arena: New Circumstances, Old Approaches,” to examine the imperative of discussing the Artsakh problem in a wholly new way both in Armenia and within international circles. The meeting brought together representatives from international organizations and the diplomatic community in Yerevan, leading analysts, policy specialists, and members of the press.

Welcoming the audience with opening remarks, ACNIS analyst Edgar Vardanian stated that “Even though the most recent geopolitical developments compel us to reflect on the Karabagh question more frequently, this does not reduce further the level of public uncertainty concerning this matter. And our discussion today will also have the objective of shedding light on this issue’s several aspects which are of social interest,” Vardanian noted.

In his intervention, international law expert Andrias Ghukasyan examined the possible outcomes of, and existing concerns regarding, the recognition of the Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR), and underscored the need to adopt new and bold attitudes and to dispose of old and used up stereotypes. According to Ghukasyan, when it comes to the steps taken toward settling the Karabagh conflict—including those measures within Artsakh’s recognition process—not solely the UN underpinnings for the recognition of the right of self-determination, but also the precepts of the Regional Agreement and the Helsinki Final Act must be accepted as bases, especially since the precedents of Kosovo, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia do exist. “It is time for Armenia to review its policies with respect to Karabagh’s equality of rights and other related matters, and to become free of those stereotypes which existed 15-20 years ago but have not matured since,” the international law expert maintained.

In his turn, ACNIS Director of Research Manvel Sargsian looked at the Karabagh question in terms of Armenia’s political agenda. He likewise analyzed the existing entrenched stereotypes and also stressed that in the Armenian scene, and as a rule, virtually all phenomena have begun to be conditioned on the Karabagh factor, and this is extremely perilous. Sargsian also stated that the mindset according to which the Karabagh issue must be resolved exclusively within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group is equally dangerous, and this approach severely limits our active engagement. “And what must we do ourselves? For the past seventeen years we have had but one function: to maintain the security of a territory which still does not have any international—or at least political—status, and to this day it is recognized as an ‘occupied territory,’” Sargsian argued. He also expressed a conviction that unless Karabagh attains a clear status, no success will be achieved in the peace talks. And, as per ACNIS’s Director of Research, the variety of decisions being reached on this issue are simply increasing the likelihood of resuming war because the right to use force has always been given to Azerbaijan.

The presentations were followed by a series of questions and answers, and featured a lively exchange with the audience. The roundtable discussants also included former Deputy Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly, Karapet Rubinyan; governance expert Harutiun Mesropyan; chairman Edward Antinyan of the Ramkavar Liberal Party of Armenia; political scientists Aleksandr Kananyan and Levon Urumyan; ACNIS senior analyst Hovsep Khurshudian; and several others.

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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