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June 30, 2011

ACNIS Examines the Post-Kazan Situation Concerning Karabagh

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened a policy roundtable to look at the current state of affairs with respect to Mountainous Karabagh (Artsakh) following the recent meeting held in Kazan, Russian Federation, among the presidents of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The seminar discussion brought together representatives from international organizations and the diplomatic community in Yerevan, leading analysts, policy specialists, and members of the press.

ACNIS analyst Saro Saroyan welcomed the audience with opening remarks. “Today, when the trilateral meeting held in Kazan on June 24 is already behind us, we have come together here to discuss the present-day circumstances regarding Mountainous Karabagh and the likely political scenarios after yet another letdown toward resolving the problem,” Saroyan stated.

In his intervention entitled “An Impasse, or A Prospect for New Approaches?,” ACNIS Director of Research Manvel Sargsian reflected on the post-Kazan reactions by the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chairing countries and, accordingly, he did not rule out the possibility of change either in the format of the Minsk Group, or in the concept for resolving the Artsakh issue. In Sargsian’s view, wholly new ideas and precepts need to be set as bases for the settlement of this conflict. “I will not be surprised if the Minsk Group is dissolved and the peace process is transferred to the domain of European integration. A huge role seems to be put upon the European Union, and I believe time will soon show that the circumstances are changing and a new phase is starting. If you have taken notice, at times Armenia is underscoring the inexpediency of changing the format, but on other occasions it is declaring that a new phase is impossible without the participation of Mountainous Karabagh,” Sargsian maintained. He also surmised that, at the new phase Artsakh will act as a separate party to the conflict and this will weaken Azerbaijan’s stance, specifically in light of the Deauville Statement which clearly excludes the use of force. Sargsian concluded that, in this way, the state of affairs, which now seems to have reached a deadlock, could herald a prospect for new approaches.

In his turn, Regional Studies Center (RSC) Director Richard Giragosian explored the question of whether a war is imminent with regard to Karabagh and against the background of the developments before, during, and after the trilateral meeting in Kazan. According to Giragosian, in Kazan Azerbaijan was putting the emphasis not so much on the documents at the negotiations table, but rather on its June 26 military parade with the intention of demonstrating the result of its military cooperation with Russia, particularly its S-300 air defense system which does not pose an actual danger since it is essentially a defensive weapon. “For numerous years Azerbaijan was engaged in a ‘war of diplomacy’ which is replaced today by a ‘diplomacy of war,’ which is a method for exerting pressure on the international community and, first and foremost, on the Minsk Group. The threat of war is real in so far as we have a weak and unpredictable adversary,” Giragosian said. He also noted that, psychologically, Azerbaijan still does not realize that it is defeated and has lost Karabagh forever. “By constantly threatening with war and demanding everything at once, Azerbaijan has put itself in the corner and now looks for a suitable excuse to come out from that trap which it has created and to give up Karabagh ‘with dignity.’”

The presentations were followed by a series of questions and answers, and featured a lively exchange with the audience. The roundtable participants also included British Ambassador Charles Lonsdale; German Ambassador Hans-Jochen Schmidt; political scientist Levon Urumyan; Naira Sultanyan from the British Embassy; 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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