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September 30, 2010

ACNIS Convenes Roundtable on the Recognition of Artsakh

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) convened a roundtable seminar discussion today entitled “Should Armenia Recognize the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh?”  Participants in the discussion included several members of the Armenian parliament, leading analysts, policy specialists, representatives from civil society and the media.

Welcoming the participants, ACNIS Administrative Director Karapet Kalenchian noted that the issue of Armenia’s possible recognition of the independence of Artsakh presents an especially timely topic for discussion, as the Armenian parliament has accepted a proposal by the Heritage Party to schedule a formal discussion of the issue in early October.  He explained that the Center intended to hold this event to promote a lively exchange among the discussants, adding that “in terms of finding the right solution to the matter of recognition, the clarification of each and everyone’s view concerning this issue is very important.”  Although representatives from all political parties and groups were invited to speak at the event, Kalenchian noted that “unfortunately, not all political parties wanted to address this issue today.”

ACNIS Senior Analyst Manvel Sargsian then examined the question of the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh’s (MKR) recognition and stressed that “by carrying out negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, Armenia continues to accept the other countries’ stance, according to which MKR’s status must be decided during the talks being held between the conflicting sides,” Sargsian argued. “That is, Armenia’s leadership constantly states that the status can not be bargained with, yet it continues to discuss that issue with Azerbaijan, thereby actually recognizing Azerbaijan’s ‘entitlement’ to decide the status issue.”

Sargsian said that “today, Armenia has nothing to combat against the anti-Armenian resolutions that are being adopted by international organizations, and the international policy toward Armenia now focuses more on the existing uncertainty concerning MKR’s status.”  He continued to say that “this very argument is at the heart of the conviction held by those who favor MKR’s immediate recognition. By the act of recognition, the schema of international relations pertaining to Mountainous Karabagh will change drastically, and this will enable Armenia to make the defending of MKR’s independence become a component of its policy of bilateral and multilateral relation.”

Despite agreeing to start the process toward Artsakh’s recognition, director and analyst Laura Baghdasarian of the “Region” Research Center expressed concern, however, that “any immediate recognition would only reaffirm Azerbaijan’s assertion that Armenia has carried out an act of aggression” against it. “If we recognize MKR’s independence, I am confident that Azerbaijan will cease the negotiations and hold Armenia fully responsible for the failure of this process,” Baghdasarian noted. “In addition, the present situation is convenient not only for the international community, but also for Armenia, and even for Azerbaijan, which makes bogus threats of war. So, why recognize now when the situation is incomparably better?” The analyst also added that it was back in 1994 that Armenia had missed the best chance to recognize the independence of the MKR.

During the series of questions and answers and a lively exchange among the audience, the vice chairman of the Heritage Party’s executive board, Ruben Hakobian, Parliamentarians Stepan Safarian, Armen Martirosian and Zaruhi Postanjian, and several others expressed their views arguing in favor of MKR’s recognition. The discussants also emphasized the fact that, “for unknown reasons, pro-government political figures seem to stay away from public debates around this issue, and that their absence from today’s roundtable—in spite of being invited—is an indication of this reality.”

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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