In a declaration released by the ARF Bureau on Tuesday, March 20, it was clearly stated that the Armenian Revolutionary Federation finds it imperative that any agreement aiming at the resolution of the Artsakh issue must recognize the unification of Artsakh with Armenia, or, at a minimum, the independence of Artsakh. ARF Bureau member Dr. Vicken Hovsepian was interviewed by Asbarez Executive Editor John Kossakian for additional explanations regarding the ARF policy on the Karabakh negotiations.
(Translated from Armenian)
John Kossakian: When the Bureau speaks about the independence of Artsakh or its unification with Armenia, what this essentially means is that the Bureau rejects the idea of Artsakh being part of a common state with Azerbaijan. Does this mean that the Bureau opposes political and territorial concessions? Is this the message being conveyed in the Bureau’s declaration released earlier this week?
Dr. Vicken Hovsepian: Yes, this is the message of the ARF Bureau which is conveyed in the declaration. Any serious negotiation process infers concessions. However, there are certain concessions which are acceptable, and others which are inadmissible. In this case, we are obviously not referring to political concessions, rather territorial concessions, which the ARF finds absolutely unacceptable. The territory, for which our people have paid a high price, is anchored in our psyche and history. Therefore, this is our position, and I believe we express the feelings and dispositions of the entire Armenian people when we find unacceptable the concessions of any territory under Armenian rule.
J.K.: The ARF Bureau declaration preceded the upcoming meeting of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Florida on April 3. Does the Bureau anticipate any surprises or negative results from these negotiations? Should it be concluded that the Bureau declaration was made in response to these concerns?
V.H.: We have always appreciated, and continue to appreciate efforts at finding a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict. We appreciate the efforts of both Presidents Kocharian and Aliyev in their commitment to hold meetings. We also appreciate the efforts of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. However, we are worried since these negotiations and the preliminary work involved, take place in a dark and non-transparent processes, which we find objectionable. With this in mind, we do not necessarily expect the Florida talks to bring about a final agreement. We expect one or two more phases in the peace process, for example the talks to follow in Moscow. Nevertheless, these talks cannot be underestimated because they will set the tone for future negotiations. The Bureau believes the Armenian people must voice its decisiveness at this critical phase.
J.K.: The ARF Bureau, in its declaration, also states that any possible communication between Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan cannot be realized at the expense of Armenia’s sovereignty. By making this statement, is the Bureau affirming the seriousness of talks aimed at conceding Meghri?
V.H.: There have been discussions involving the transfer of Meghri in the past. This issue has been examined by political circles, even during the Soviet era. However, we cannot accept such possibilities, since we do not picture any Armenian individual or government allowing itself to make such a transfer or similar concession. Nonetheless, the statement in our declaration does not touch upon the issue of conceding Meghri. It refers to the inadmissibility of any variant regarding the physical communication between Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan which would be realized at the expense of Armenia’s national security.
J.K.: What is your response to criticism from certain personalities and political circles who claim the ARF has no right to issue decisive declarations or assertions regarding Armenia’s foreign policy?
V.H.: It is the right of every political power to express its position on relevant policy issues. The ARF is an important aspect of Armenian political life, with a history spanning 110 years. The ARF’s political legacy, full of experiences and sacrifices, has earned it the right to express its decisiveness on critical issues such as the status of Artsakh, and in this respect, express the views of those circles who are concerned with the future of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Armenian nation.
J.K.: Would you like to add any comments to your conclusion?
V.H.: The Armenian people, in particular the political circles, must closely follow what is transpiring at this point in time, so that that they may voice themselves at the proper time