ARMENIA RAPS EU PARLIAMENT OVER KARABAKH RESOLUTION
Karine Kalantarian, Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia -- Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian at a news conference
on March 2, 2010.
Armenia criticized the European Parliament on Friday for demanding
the "withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied territories of
Azerbaijan" in its latest resolution on the South Caucasus.
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said the demand contradicts
international mediators' existing plan to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh
which has been endorsed by the European Union.
The non-binding resolution adopted by the EU legislature on Thursday
does not specify whether the Armenian side should pull out of only
Azerbaijani districts surrounding Karabakh or the disputed region as
well. It only rejects the notion that "Nagorno-Karabakh includes all
occupied Azerbaijani lands surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh."
Nor does the resolution, drafted by Bulgarian Socialist lawmaker
Evgeni Kirilov, explain whether the Armenian troop pullout should start
immediately and unconditionally or after the signing of a comprehensive
Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement. The latter condition is a key element
of the so-called Madrid Principles of settling conflict that have
been proposed the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the
OSCE Minsk Group.
Nalbandian said that the resolution demand is at odds with both those
principles and a joint statement on Karabakh that was made by the
presidents of the three mediating powers in July. "There is an obvious
confusion in the formulations, and I think one of the reasons for that
is that the author of the resolution has never been in Karabakh and the
[broader] region, and did not consult with representatives of France,
an EU member state and OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, when drawing up
his report," he told a news conference.
"That is the reason why some of the [resolution] provisions also
contradict the EU's position, which has been repeatedly articulated,"
The European Parliament did make clear that it supports the Madrid
document and the mediators' efforts to have it accepted by the
conflicting parties. The proposed framework accord calls for the
liberation of virtually all Armenian-controlled territories around
Karabakh in return for a future referendum on self-determination in
the disputed territory itself.
In what appears to be a message primarily addressed to Azerbaijan,
the resolution also says the EU legislature "condemns the idea of
a military solution" to the dispute. It further stresses that "the
Armenia-Turkey rapprochement and the OSCE Minsk Group negotiations
are separate processes that should move forward along their own
Nalbandian's criticism was echoed by parliamentary representatives
of the three political parties making up in Armenia's coalition
government. "Drawing up incomplete and unprofessional reports on such
crucial and sensitive issues is unacceptable," said Eduard Sharmazanov
of the Republican Party of Armenia led by President Serzh Sarkisian.
Opposition leaders also described the European Parliament resolution
as pro-Azerbaijani, blaming the Sarkisian administration for it. Levon
Zurabian, a leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK),
charged that the document's passage was a "disgraceful defeat" for
Another opposition force, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(Dashnaktsutyun), was more cautious in criticizing the document. One
of its parliament deputies, Artsvik Minasian, called it "unbalanced"
but said the initial version of the resolution was even less favorable
for the Armenian side. He said it was amended under pressure from
Armenian diplomats and Dashnaktsutyun's lobbying structures in Europe.
Meanwhile, European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA), a Brussels-based
non-governmental group, took issue with the highly negative reaction to
the resolution from Yerevan. While agreeing that its Karabakh-related
wording is "confusing," the EuFoA insisted that the European Parliament
endorsed all of the Madrid principles.
"This means concretely that the withdrawal of troops can only take
place, if there are sufficient security guarantees for the population
of Karabakh, a corridor to Armenia, an agreement to the final status
of Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will and the
right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to
their former homes," EuFoA said in a statement. "No EU institution has
ever demanded the withdrawal of troops without such a comprehensive
solution - this EP resolution has not changed that."
"The same report for the first time calls for extending EU programs
to Karabakh, ending the de-facto blockade for EU officials to travel
to Karabakh. This would have a very positive effect of stabilization
and progress for Karabakh and would no longer submit such actions to a
veto from Azerbaijan," said the statement. It added that the European
Parliament also endorsed Yerevan's insistence on a normalization of
Turkish-Armenian relations regardless of a Karabakh settlement.
ARMENIA RAPS EU PARLIAMENT
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