MOSCOW (Combined Sources)—“Today, it is impossible to see Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan,” said former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev over the weekend in an interview with the Russian service of RFE/RL on the occasion of the anniversary marking his landmark Perestroika reform initiatives.
“An agreement should have been reached, and we would have resolved the problem in the 1980s” Gorbachev said, explaining that he proposed an autonomous status to the then leadership of Azerbaijan.
“For example, I proposed republic status for Nagorno-Karabakh. The then Azeri authorities — I think [Abdul-Rakhman] Vezirov – were on the verge of agreeing, but the plan failed. Maybe the problem could have been resolved at that time, but we cannot imagine Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan now,” Gorbachev said.
“I think measures should have been taken to grant status to Nagorno-Karabakh. Economic assistance should have been rendered as well. People should have been able to communicate with Yerevan. We allocated funds for Karabakh later on, but I do not know how they were spent.” explained Gorbachev.
He lamented on the condition of Nagorno-Karabakh in the years leading up to the unification demonstrations in 1988, explaining that communication was virtually impossible and non-existence.
“There are now new calls for war. But a new war must be prevented in Nagorno-Karabakh. Negotiations are the only way out. War must be ruled out; otherwise, the great powers will be involved,” he said.
The former leader’s think tank, the Gorbachev Fund published a report on the 22nd anniversary of Perestroika, in which experts pointed out that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was among the chief causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union.