WASHINGTON—Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) chairman Ken Hachikian expressed “profound disappointment” at the unreasonable pressure being applied by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chairs, which could threaten the viability of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh.
The concern was expressed in a July 14 letter to President Obama, where Hachikian noted that the Minsk Group’s “heavy handed” approach to secure unilateral and dangerous concessions by Armenians regarding the Karabagh conflict would “imperil the security of Armenia, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR) and the Armenian people; increase the prospects of renewed Azerbaijani aggression; and undermine the ability of the actual parties to this conflict to reach a truly lasting and durable peace.”
Hachikian went on to argue that the Nagorno Karabagh Republic’s participation in the peace process is fundamental to the success of the endeavor. “As a direct party to this conflict, the primary victim of Azerbaijan’s aggression, and a full stakeholder in the search for regional peace, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic must be a full and equal participant in all aspects of the peace process,” explained Hachikian. Similar concerns were addressed in letters sent to French Ambassador to the U.S. Pierre Vimont and Russian Federation Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The ANCA has also initiated a letter writing campaign to Obama and the State Department, as well as to the embassies of France and Russia in the U.S., encouraging Armenian Americans and human rights activists to express their thoughts to Minsk Group co-chair country leaders.
The effort reflects worldwide Armenian apprehension following a July 10 statement issued by Obama, French President Nikolas Sarkozy, and Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev calling on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “to resolve the few differences remaining between them” based on an updated version of the “Basic Principles” advanced by the co-chairs in the November 2007 Madrid Document. According to a White House fact sheet, those principles include:
—return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control;
—an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and self-governance;
—a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh;
—future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will;
—the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence;
—and international security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation.
Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev are set to meet on Fri., July 17 in Moscow.
Concerns about the Karabagh peace process and ongoing Armenia-Turkey dialogue based on an undisclosed “roadmap” were presented at a pan-Armenian conference held in Karabagh’s capital, Stepanakert, from July 9-10. Over 120 Armenian leaders from 25 countries, representing a broad cross-section of the political, academic, religious, business, and civil society leadership from Armenia, Karabagh, and the diaspora, discussed the ongoing Karabagh negotiations and unanimously adopted a resolution urging Karabagh’s direct participation in the talks. They also called for vigilance in the face of pressure to adopt a “hasty solution to the problem and Azerbaijan’s belligerent statements.”
The full text of Hachikian’s letter to Obama is provided below.
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
In the wake of the G8 Summit and on the eve of the planned July 17th meeting in Moscow between President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, I am writing to share with you the profound disappointment of the Armenian American community over the undue and unreasonable pressure being applied in a heavy-handed manner upon Armenia by the Minsk Group co-chair countries to force unilateral and dangerous concessions by Armenians regarding the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. These concessions would imperil the security of Armenia, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic (NKR) and the Armenian people; increase the prospects of renewed Azerbaijani aggression; and undermine the ability of the actual parties to this conflict to reach a truly lasting and durable peace.
Mr. President, in 2008, you pledged to work “for a lasting and durable settlement of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict that is agreeable to all parties, and based upon America’s founding commitment to the principles of democracy and self determination.” Such a settlement is severely hampered by exclusion of the duly elected representatives of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic from the current peace process. As a direct party to this conflict, the primary victim of Azerbaijan’s aggression, and a full stakeholder in the search for regional peace, the Nagorno Karabagh Republic must be a full and equal participant in all aspects of the peace process. Without this participation, a fair and enduring peace is simply not possible.
Furthermore, the so-called Madrid Principles are not in line with the nature of the conflict and its history. They completely ignore the will of the NKR people that they have already legitimately expressed through the referenda of 1991 and 2006.
The concerns of the worldwide Armenian community are outlined in the attached resolution that was unanimously adopted at a pan-Armenian Conference on July 11th in Stepanakert, the capital of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic. This conference brought together Armenian leaders from over 25 countries, representing a broad cross-section of the political, academic, religious, business and civil society leadership from Armenia, Nagorno Karabagh, and the diaspora. After a detailed two-day review of the Nagorno-Karabagh peace process as well as the state of Armenian-Turkish relations, the Conference concluded that both the flawed framework of the current talks and the Basic Principles referred to by the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chair countries, France, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America, represent a direct threat to Armenia’s and NKR’s viability and hence should not be endorsed by the authorities of Armenia.
Mr. President, we look to your principled leadership to direct our Minsk Group representative to ensure that direct dialogue and the fundamental right to the self-determination of the people of NKR become an integral part of the Nagorno-Karabagh peace process to secure a lasting peace in the region.
Kenneth V. Hachikian