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ArmInfo’s interview with Masis Mailyan, Head of the Public Council for Foreign Policy and Security, former deputy foreign minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
by David Stepanyan
Do you think certain changes will emerge in the Karabakh peace process after the presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan regardless of the fact that the incumbent presidents will obviously gain the victories?
Since internal or regional parameters of the Karabakh conflict are unlikely to change, it is transformation of the international parameters of the Karabakh-Azerbaijani confrontation that may influence the process.
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Paris on January 28. The OSCE Minsk Co-chairs are supposed to have offered new ideas to Nalbandian and Mammadyarov. What do you think the matter may concern?
So far, these new ideas are known only to a small group of officials. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the first to speak of possible new approach on the Karabakh peace process when traveling to the South Caucasus in the summer of 2012. Afterwards, the OSCE MG co-chair-states in the person of the Russian Foreign Minister, US Secretary of State and Minister-Delegate for European Affairs of France came out with a joint statement in Dublin on Dec 6. They urged the conflicting parties to display more insistence on the peace process and cooperate with the co-chairs to thoroughly study the ideas introduced by them during the November visit to the region. It is more than obvious now that it is impossible to achieve durable peace building on the former approaches and philosophy of the Karabakh peace process. The mediators should work up the courage to offer all the three parties to the conflicts approaches reckoning with today's international legal realities and the recent precedents in settlement of other conflicts.
The EU, USA and Russia can jointly influence not only the Karabakh conflict, but also other developments in the Caucasus. Do you agree with this?
The Karabakh conflict has various aspects. The force centers you have mentioned have reached a consensus on some of those aspects. For instance, I mean the peaceful settlement of the conflict. At present, these power centers are interested in stability in our region for various motives. At the same time, these superpowers may have different goals in other regional issues and aspects of the Karabakh conflict. Such balance of interests ensures maintenance of the status-quo around the Karabakh conflict.
Do you think the final agreement on Karabakh peace process may be signed without taking into account the opinions of Iran and Turkey? What is their role in maintaining the status quo?
The future peace treaty on Nagorno-Karabakh, if signed, should first of all take into account the interests of the parties to the conflict. As for the role of Iran in the conflict, its leadership is trying to preserve neutrality. Iran is the only country which has a common border to all the three parties to the conflict. In February-May 1992 Iran came forward like a mediator. Iranian officials have been recently coming forward more and more often with statements about their readiness to take the role of the mediator in the Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict. This should become a signal to the OSCE Minsk Group and stimulate its activity. The role of Turkey is non-constructive and extremely contradictory. On the one hand, Turkey is among the nine countries of the OSCE MG, but on the other hand, it is a strategic partner and the closest ally of Azerbaijan, and often comes forward like a party to the Karabakh conflict.
Earlier you said that Armenia could suspend its participation in the Minsk process. How reasonable is it for the Armenian parties given Azerbaijan’s aspiration to change the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group?
Firstly, the Armenian parties to the Karabakh conflict should be guided by their own interests without taking into consideration Azerbaijan's aspirations, especially as some of these "aspirations" may be false. Secondly, my statement was a reaction to "Safarov's case", which demonstrated once again that the Azerbaijani policy of bribing international and national functionaries is a true threat to security of Karabakh and Armenia, and casts doubt upon fair settlement of the conflict. In such conditions Armenia could suspend its participation in the Minsk process. Moreover, for resumption of the talks the Armenian parties to the Karabakh conflict had a right to require reliable security guarantees from the co-chair states of the OSCE Minsk Group - the USA, Russia and France. Such guarantees may be the international recognition of Karabakh and its involvement in the international security system.
At the past presidential election in Artsakh, one-third of the population supported the opposition candidate Vitaly Balasanyan, whereas the latter lacked any administrative resources. What prospects may such a high index of Artsakh opposition have for the following country-wide elections and international recognition of Artsakh as a democratic independent republic?
Vitaly Balasanyan's participation in the presidential election in the NKR and the votes he received have already brought certain results for Artsakh, in particular, the Artsakh people have shown that they are not indifferent to the fate of the country. The presidential election was a chance to upgrade the country's rating of political rights and civil freedoms. And we achieved restoration of the former status of a partially free country by Freedom of House. We lost that status due to the parliamentary election of 2010. Now the opposition pole in the NKR Parliament has been restored. Other democratic processes have been launched in the country, in particular, a civil movement "Constitutional Artsakh," a new political party "National Revival". It should be noted that strengthening of democracy is necessary for the good living standards of Artsakh's population and international recognition of the NKR, which is the key foreign political task of the country. The success of the opposition forces at the future country-wide elections will depend on their consistent measures to protect the rights of the citizens and create the necessary conditions for formation of the state power through legitimate elections.