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Foreign Minister Denies Armenia Has Endorsed Madrid Principles


Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian

Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian

The release on July 10 during the G8 summit in Aquila of a statement by the French, Russian, and U.S. presidents calling on Armenia and Azerbaijan to endorse the most recent draft of the so-called Madrid Principles for resolving the Karabakh conflict triggered anger and outrage in both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Speaking at a press conference in Yerevan on July 20, Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian sought to ally fears of an imminent capitulation by the Armenian leadership, saying that Yerevan has not endorsed the Madrid principles, but merely regards them as "a basis for negotiations." He also shrugged off opposition demands that he acknowledge his own incompetence and resign.

The Aquila statement listed only six of the Madrid Principles; there are reportedly some 15. But there are major discrepancies between the six principles as outlined in the July 10 statement and the original "Basic Principles" unveiled by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen three years ago.

On July 13, former President Levon Ter-Petrossian's Armenian National Congress (HAK) claimed that the most recent Madrid Principles require from Armenia concessions of a magnitude that is tantamount to "treason." That capitulation can only be averted, the statement continues, if "the population of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and all concerned political forces" align to demand the resignation of Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian.

David Shahnazarian, who served under Ter-Petrossian as national security minister and is now a leading HAK member, on July 20 described the Madrid Principles as "alarming." He said they do not "even hint at self-determination" for Nagorno-Karabakh.

Like the HAK, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation--Dashnaktsutiun (HHD), which quit the four-party ruling coalition three months ago to protest Sarkisian's policy of rapprochement with Turkey, warned on July 16 that it would demand Sarkisian's resignation if he endorsed the Madrid Principles. The HHD later raised the possibility of demanding that Nalbandian too step down on the grounds that "Armenia's foreign policy has deviated from the main provisions of the national security strategy."

On July 17, 24 NGO heads and independent experts in Nagorno-Karabakh released a statement denouncing the Madrid Principles as "illegal, unjust, amoral, and detrimental to the entire South Caucasus." The statement alleged that "the security of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia is under threat," and accused the Minsk Group co-chairs of "ignoring completely existing realities and the legal rights" of Karabakh's population.

At his July 20 press conference with visiting Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country assumed the EU rotating presidency on July 1, Nalbandian insisted that Armenia has not formally approved the Madrid Principles. He also rejected as untrue the claim by his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov that during their talks in Moscow on July 17-18, President Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev discussed the timetable for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from seven districts of Azerbaijan contiguous to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Karabakh Defense Minister Lieutenant General Movses Hakopian was quoted on July 9 as saying no one has asked Karabakh to withdraw from those districts, and that the unrecognized republic's leadership does not intend to give them up.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.

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