YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Nagorno Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian labeled as unacceptable a proposal Tuesday by mediators suggesting "the problem of Nagorno Karabakh was an internal affair of Azerbaijan."
According to Ghoukassian–Nagorno Karabakh wouldn’t agree to any status based on Karabakh’s vertical submission to Azerbaijan. Ghoukassian noted that today–Azerbaijan does not conceal its intentions to push for transformation of the Armenian Nagorno Karabakh into a dualist Armenian-Azeri formation with the possibility of its further division according to the Cyprus model or its total liquidation.
Ghoukassian further stressed that Nagorno Karabakh stands up for a "package" settlement to the conflict. He admitted that a step-by-step settlement is easier–but stressed: "the step-by-step settlement of which mediators and Azerbaijan are speaking is nothing but a delayed action mine. I am not sure that it will lead to peace and not war."
Ghoukassian said he does not see any political solution to a complex of problems suggested by mediators.
To this end–he noted that mediators’ task is to help the conflicting sides find a solution–rather than to impose a settlement scheme. Proposals by mediators is an outright predetermination of the OSCE Minsk Conference results.
The recent proposals forwarded by mediators provide for a status under which Karabakh remains a part of Azerbaijan. Speaking of the possibility of compromise–Ghoukassian said that de facto independent Karabakh is ready to sacrifice a part of its independence in a certain form and build horizontal relations with Azerbaijan on the basis of international documen’s.
Ghoukassian did not rule out the possibility that the international status of Karabakh as an independent state be restricted. At the same time–he noted that there was a limit of concessions beyond which the life and safety of Karabakh would be put in jeopardy. He believed that unilateral withdrawal of Karabakh troops and the return of refugees and restoration of Azerbaijan’s rule over the occupied territories–will create a military-political condition under which Azerbaijan will force the issue of full and unconditional return of all of Karabakh under its own rule.
Ghoukassian voiced confidence that Azerbaijan would not give Karabakh more than a fictitious autonomy and would take advantage of any situation to push for a "final solution," that is total liquidation of the Armenian Karabakh.
Answering questions about the differences in Armenia’s and Karabakh’s approaches to the settlement of the conflict–Ghoukassian said they do exist– and that there were issues on which he disagreed with the leadership of Armenia.
However–Ghoukassian refused to comment on the last statement by Levon Ter-Petrossyan regarding the Karabakh conflict–saying that he did not want to argue with Ter-Petrossyan via the press.