BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
GLENDALE–US Special Representative to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks and the US Co-chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minks Group discussed the ongoing Karabakh peace process with members of the Armenian-American community Monday–during a public forum organized by the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region and the Armenian Assembly held at St. Mary’s Church.
Prior to the community forum–Cavanaugh met with members of the Armenian press and addressed some of the issues related with the peace process–including last month’s trip to the region by the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group.
In his briefing–Cavanaugh praised efforts by presidents Robert Kocharian and Haydar Aliyev to hold direct peace talks–announcing that the two leaders were scheduled to meet later this month in Yalta and again in October in New York.
Cavanaugh explained that the aim of his visit was to share with the Armenian-American community the status of the peace talks and gauge its opinion on some of the pressing matters related to the Karabakh peace process.
Following an overview of the peace process–Cavanaugh said that Mink Group–from day one–has involved Nagorno-Karabakh in the negotiations and considers Karabakh "part and parcel" to the process.
He refrained from providing details on a specific proposals–including speculations that the US is pressing for a territorial swap.
"I cannot go into details about the specifics of the plan," said Cavanaugh–who assured that the peace plan proposals would be a compilation of agreemen’s between the parties to the conflict. He also said the possibility holding local referenda in the region is not ruled out.
The issue of the Genocide was also addressed during the press conference. Cavanaugh was reluctant to call the events of 1915 a Genocide–terming it "tragic events."
Probing from the press and other at the conference about the historical injustices that have brought forth the modern-day Karabakh conflict–provided Cavanaugh to address some of the historical diversions currently at play by the State Department and other involved in the conflict. However–the US negotiator opted to say that his role in the conflict resolution process was to address and resolve issues stemming from the onset of the Karabakh conflict in 1988.
The Sevres treaty also figured into the discussion with the Minsk Group co-chairman. While he acknowledged that such a treaty was–in fact–in place and signed by the United States–he reiterated his position that peace process was focusing on the current and not the historic past.
The 80th anniversary of the signing of the Sevres treaty is on August 10. The treaty–authored by President Woodrow Wilson and signed by the US–France–Turkey and other international powers of the time–recognized the independent Armenian Republic and introduced a map of Armenia which encompassed much of Western historic Armenia–as well as Nagorno-Karabakh–Javakhk and Nakhichevan.
When asked whether the Minsk Group–and the State Department–would alter their position after the Armenian-American community expresses its opinion–the reason of Cavanaugh’s visit to Glendale–the US negotiator responded that while the views of the community would be taken into consideration–the peace plan to be drawn up will be based on regional issues and not concerns voiced by communities scattered around the world.