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The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Nagorno Karabakh commented last week on International Crisis Group’s “Nagorno Karabakh: Viewing the Conflict On the Ground” report published September 14. The Ministry’s comments show that Stepanakert is not satisfied with the Group’s report.

Political analyst Davit Babayan, aide of NKR President, told daily Azg that “the report is made in best interests of Azerbaijan. You have an impression that the document was prepared by an Azeri ministry” and “instead of approaching the day of regulation, the report had a negative influence on the regulation process”. In Babayan’s opinion, which is harmonious with the comments of Karabakh’s FAM, the report makes an impression that Nagorno Karabakh is a militarized state totally dependent on Armenia as well as it pictures Karabakh conflict as a territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan that came about as a result of Armenia’s aggression.

“A serious deficiency is that report passes in silence over the fact that 90 per cent of Armenians became refugees as a result of ethnic cleansings, pogroms and police’s castigations organized by the Azerbaijani authorities in 1988-1991. Whereas 85 per cent of the Azeris were compelled to leave their homes during the military operations beginning from 1993. Besides, no force was applied to get them out but they left with the retreating Azeri forces obeying Azeri authorities’ order”, the statement of the NKR Foreign Ministry reads.

The report seems more pro-Azeri when considering the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP). “The number of those Armenian refugees that the authors claim to belong to the most suffered category is curtailed by 35.000 (those are the IDPs from Shahumian, Martuni and Martakert). This number of Armenian refugees is contrasted with 425.000 Azeri IDPs. Favoritism towards Azerbaijan is obvious in figures too: the Azeri refugees are mentioned 186 times whereas the Armenian ones only 40. The Armenian refugees are often mentioned in negative context as illegal inhabitants of Karabakh-controlled territories”.

“The first sentence of the report’s first chapter informs that ‘NK is perhaps the most militarized society of the world’. Informing that NK armed forces count 18.500 soldiers, the authors fail to mention that Karabakh’s Defence Army is compelled to hold back the Azeri army of 40.000 on the opposite side of the border”, the Foreign Ministry’s statement says.

Yet, Stepanakert sees the positive sides of the report too. It points out particularly that Nagorno Karabakh has a point in claiming for its independence, the Karabakh-controlled territories were not occupied by Armenia and Azerbaijan’s claims of one and a half million IDPs and claim of 20 per cent of Azeri territory being under Karabakh’s control does not correspond with the reality. As negative aspects of the report Stepanakert points out to the neglected interests of Armenian refugees and IDPs, something that is a discrimination from the non-governmental organization, the report contains threat of resumption of military operations in the conflict zone, the ICG does not recognize the borders of NKR and proceeds from the Soviet administrative division, the authors tend to hold Armenia and Azerbaijan equally responsible for the outbreak of the conflict (this approach was used by the Soviet authorities in 1988-1991 opening doors for Azerbaijan’s aggression against NKR).

The ICG will make public its second report, “Voices From the Negotiation Table”.

By Tatoul Hakobian

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