Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan said that the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh cannot be a subject of any discussion on negotiations.
He said in an interview with Artsakh Public Television that Artsakh authorities emphasize this crucial matter through their official statements and during meetings.
Last week, Harutyunyan led a delegation of Artsakh officials to Armenia to meet with and discuss the face of Artsakh with Armenia’s authorities after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan said in a statement in Prague that Armenia and Azerbaijan will respect each other’s borders. The statement had no mention of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
It emerged, however, that the leadership of Armenia and Artsakh had divergent approached on Artsakh, furthering a schism that has been festering for since Pashinyan and his government have opted to negotiate a peace treaty with Azerbaijan.
“We do not even think that Artsakh is a part of Azerbaijan. The Republic of Artsakh de factor exists and is governed by its Constitution. It is impossible to imagine Artsakh in any other status,” Harutyunyan said.
He stressed the importance of continuing effort to garner international recognition of Artsakh, saying that it might take “years and decades.”
“The situation has become more complicated because the international players are providing their assistance to a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan are ignoring the Artsakh issue,” said the Artsakh President, who said proposal emanating from the international community are not “favorable” to Artsakh.
He said that the current situation did not prevent Artsakh from advancing the principle of self-determination as outlined by the Untied Nations Charter.
“The right of the Artsakh people to self-determination has nothing to do with the principle of territorial integrity,” President Harutyunyan said.
The Artsakh leader said, however, that without forsaking the country’s independence, his government should explore avenues to engage in direct talks with Baku.
“We need to assess what direct talks with Baku will provide us. If we are going to maintain our de facto independence, stability and peace, we must raise and resolve vital issues during these meetings. Of course we must meet, without giving up our right to self-determination and without questioning the path to our independence,” the Artsakh president said.
He also said that he could not imagine Artsakh’s future with our the presence of Russia.
“A question may arise here that Armenia is the guarantor of Artsakh’s security. But the conflict is no longer an issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan or Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, for a long time now, this conflict has had much deeper roots. There is the Shushi Declaration between Azerbaijan and Turkey, and Turkey’s role in the last war, and its role after the war in the region has increased. So, we expect more reliable guarantees from Russia, not just a peacekeeping mission,” Harutyunyan said.