STEPANAKERT (Armenpress)-In an interview conducted by the Armenpress News Agency–Naira Melkumian–foreign minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic discussed pressing issues–including the aftermath to the assassination attempt on Karabakh president’s life Arkady Ghoukassian. Below is the transcript of that interview.
Armenpress: Mrs. Melkumian–do you think that the assassination attempt on Karabakh president Arkady Ghoukassian will affect the conflict resolution negotiation process?
Naira Melkumian: I think that first and foremost we have to assess the situation soberly. We must be grateful that the president’s life is not in danger and we hope he will soon return to his duties. So no changes in the political structures are expected and the terrorist action will not affect out internal and foreign policy. But it most likely will affect the process of internal political reforms. I think that after what happened the president will be more decisive and consistent in continuing the already-started political process. The Nagorno-Karabakh republic is to become a democratic–stable and independent state.
Armenpress: Right after the assassination attempt former defense minister Samvel Babayan and other well-known individuals were arrested on suspicion of being involved in it. Do you think the attempt was a move dictated by political–ideological–personal or some other motives?
N.M.: What has happened is a criminal offense and it is my opinion that the prosecutor’s office had sufficient grounds for arresting the aforementioned persons. I think that in a short period of time it will be clear whether there were grounds to arrest them. So let us respect the presumption of innocence.
Armenpress: It is not a secret that president Ghoukassian and Samvel Babayan were at odds. Do you think a third force might have used this disagreement?
N.M.: Your question leaves room for political or legal speculations. But one thing is clear; president Ghoukassian’s rating is very high outside Karabakh. His experience and abilities–his devotion to the peaceful resolution of the long-lasting conflict are highly estimated by super powers. I do not think there is a force outside Karabakh and Armenia that was interested in the elimination of president Ghoukassian.
Armenpress: Azeri president Haydar Aliyev has already announced that he will not link the assassination attempt with the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. What is your opinion in this respect?
N.M.: President Aliyev’s comment was very interesting. He considered it to be an internal affair of Karabakh. Let us make no conclusions–but I think that in Azerbaijan they are beginning to understand that Karabakh is an independent state and all their efforts to influence the process here are fruitless.
Armenpress: However–some Azeri politicians say that the negotiation process has entered a deadlock. They link the terrorist action with economic crisis here.
N.M.: These kinds of announcemen’s are made by people who have no relation to the negotiation process. Azeri foreign minister Guliev hurried to announce that Arkady Ghoukassian did not and does not play any particular role in the negotiations process. I would like to remind him that the fate of the Karabakh process is in Stepanakert and a final solution to it will be found and decided upon here. President Ghoukassian will announce the will of the Karabakh people who are masters of their own fate.
Armenpress: One can suppose that it was president Ghoukassian’s hard-line stance that angered many and they did not miss the opportunity.
N.M.: President Ghoukassian’s hard-line stance is the reflection of the people’s opinion. In this respect I would like to tell to all our enemies that irrespective of who is the president of Karabakh–he or she will carry out the policy–which would reflect the will and the dream of the people. I would also like to say that those people here who considered themselves to be in opposition should have understood that Karabakh has its own president. If they are trying to become an instrument in someone’s hands they have created basis to implicate themselves.
Armenpress: Opposition is an integral part of any democracy–but under these circumstances all political forces have to seek for accord in the name of the future of our state. Both Ghoukassian and Samvel Babayan say that they are reflecting the people’s will–but there are one people with one will.
N.M.: Any established democracy must also have opposition to keep the authorities on alert. Opposition also brings balance in all spheres of life. We too say that our opposition does not have any other political program–which would differ from the authorities’ program. We all pursue one goal in the name of independence and reunion. The current authorities’ rating is higher than that of the opposition–which is based on personal interests. I think that the assassination attempt is the continuation of the personalized opposition which is beneficial for our enemies only. The political responsibility for all this rests with the opposition. I would like to add one thing only–only those who are willing to struggle for their goals will achieve victory at the end.