Armenia insists on concessions from Azerbaijan for Karabakh

By Asbarez | Friday, 19 August 2016

Shavarsh Kocharian speaking to journalists on August 4, 2016 (Photo: RFE/RL)

Shavarsh Kocharian speaking to journalists on August 4, 2016 (Photo: RFE/RL)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia deems it will be impossible to talk about a compromise solution to the protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan unless official Baku acknowledges the need for concessions.

Speaking to media after a government session on Thursday, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian said: “So far, I have not heard Baku speaking about any concessions. When Baku starts speaking about concessions, then it will be possible to talk about compromises.”

“It is a different matter that speaking about the negotiating process, the Armenian sides – Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh – say that they are ready for compromises… But while Azerbaijan’s position is getting tougher, it is pointless for the Armenian sides to talk about any concessions,” Kocharian added.

Speculation about possible Armenian territorial concessions to Azerbaijan as part of some sort of a compromise deal within the framework of the internationally mediated negotiating process renewed after brief hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh in early April in which dozens of soldiers, as well as civilians, were killed on both sides.

So far, however, officials in Yerevan and Stepanakert have denied that a possible withdrawal from a number of Karabakh-controlled districts around Nagorno-Karabakh proper in exchange for some sort of status for the disputed region is part of the negotiations where Russia, one of the three chief negotiators along with the United States and France, appears to have played first fiddle in recent months.

Addressing senior members of his government and leading representatives of the Armenian society on August 1, President Serzh Sarkisian categorically ruled out unilateral concessions in the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.

“Karabakh will never be part of Azerbaijan. Never. I repeat once again: it is out of the question,” he stressed.

In a recent interview with the online newspaper of the French Parliament, Karabakh leader Bako Sahakian, while advocating the idea of “reasonable, fair and adequate” compromises as a way of settling the conflict, insisted that such concessions should not “disrupt our country’s security and create opportunities for our adversary to launch new attacks against us.”

Sahakian’s spokesman David Babayan later explained that the Karabakh leader did not imply territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.

Kocharian also presented a clear vision of the Armenian side of the possible compromise: “Nagorno-Karabakh cannot be part of Azerbaijan; security guarantees must be provided for the Karabakh state and people.”

“As for details of how to achieve this, it is a different matter, which is also conditioned by the position of our opponent. And its position is very tough, so speaking about details in this case is pointless,” the senior Armenian diplomat said.

Kocharian stressed that Armenia is not empowered to talk about Nagorno-Karabakh’s territorial integrity. “For me or for any other official of Armenia there is no notion of compromise or concession, because these issues related to the settlement are mainly within the competence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. In other words, not a single Armenian official has the right to talk about them. It is another matter that in the current situation, while the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is not fully involved in the negotiation process, in order not to interrupt the process, Armenia participates in it. But Armenia is not empowered to speak for Nagorno-Karabakh either about its status or its territorial integrity,” said the deputy foreign minister.

According to Kocharian, no agreements around a Karabakh conflict settlement were reached at recent Armenian-Azerbaijani talks in Vienna and St. Petersburg. He stressed that both meetings discussed ways to strengthen the ceasefire regime.