Karabakh Premier: “We are not going to cede lands”

News has been circulated recently that stand out even against the background of the heated discussions and arguments about the prospects of the development of Armenian-Turkish relations.

On October 31, Nagorno-Karabakh Prime Minister Ara Harutyunyan, in response to RFE/RL’s question, said that “Nagorno Karabakh is not going to cede lands.”

“Madrid principles cannot become a document for us,” said Harutyunynan.

The Madrid principles submitted in 2007 propose an Armenian withdrawal from seven former regions of Soviet Azerbaijan currently controlled by Karabakh forces.

It also envisages ‘liberation’ of Aghdam, Fizuli, Jebrahil, Kubatli, Zangelan, partly Lachin, and probably partly former Kelbajar regions.

The total area of all the regions is 8,810 sq. m., which is a little bit bigger than 10 percent of Soviet Azerbaijan’s territory (86,600 sq. m.).

The Madrid principles also propose stationing an international peacekeeping contingent along the line of contact, as a security guarantee.

In exchange for this kind of concession the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh would be granted an opportunity to hold a plebiscite in order to determine Nagorno-Karabakh’s final legal status.

A separate point in the document submitted to the negotiating parties by the international mediators in Madrid provides for the return of displaced persons and holding a referendum on Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence not only on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh but, possibly, also on the territory of the adjacent regions.

Consequently, the NKR Prime Minister’s statement that “Tte Madrid Principles cannot become a document for us” indicates that the Armenian authorities do not accept the fundamental principles of the proposed solution.

It is noteworthy that no such statements have been made until now.

This statement was voiced right after Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s visit to Nagorno-Karabakh, which, obviously, cannot be a matter of mere coincidence.

After President Sargsyan’s latest visit to Karabakh some rumors were circulated in the press and in some political circles of Nagorno Karabakh, according to which during his meeting with representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh’s military top brass, the president, allegedly, spoke about conceding Aghdam.

It is noteworthy that in March 2005 the then Defense Minister of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, while delivering his speech at parliamentary hearings on the Karabakh issue in Yerevan, said speaking about the possible territorial concessions that “after all, Aghdam is not our homeland.”

That sentence immediately attracted special attention on the part of the Armenian press and many politicians and was presented in the context of the authorities’ readiness to make territorial concessions.

‘Aghdam’ became the collective name symbolizing all the regions around Nagorno-Karabakh currently controlled by the NKR armed forced.

“We have no right to doubt that the Armenian president, who has devoted the last twenty years of his life to Nagorno-Karabakh, can take an anti-Armenian or erroneous step towards Artsakh,” stated the NKR Prime Minister.

Another sensational news was voiced, following Sargsyan’s visit to Stepanakert, in reference to the construction of a road connecting Martakert and Aghdam – two towns located on the historic territory of Karabakh.

The old road, ruined and deformed not only by the course of time but also by numerous shells during the Karabakh war, is still being used, however it is important that currently finances are allotted to laying a new asphalt cover.

This fact is now introduced within the highlight of impossibility of conceding Aghdam to Azerbaijan. Otherwise, as supporters of this interpretation assure, the authorities of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh would hardly spend money on building the new road.

Prime Minister Harutyunyan stated that the road connecting Aghdam to Martakert is being built upon President Sargsyan’s initiative.

“This comes to prove that the speculations on conceding Aghdam by Serzh Sargsyan are slander, fabrications which are in certain people’s interest,” stated Harutyunyan.