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Caroline Cox: Nagorno Karabakh Republic Has To Be Part of Negotiation Process

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"Armedia" IAA presents an EXCLUSIVE interview with a member of the British House of Lords, who last month, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Artsakh’s (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) independence visited NKR, had meetings with number of NKR officials and among others also visited NKR Defense Army front line troops to express her gratitude to Armenian soldiers.

- Lady Cox as you know, on September 2 and on September 21 respectively Armenia and Artsakh celebrated the 25th anniversary of independence. How will you evaluate the past 25 years of  NKR (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) and Armenia?

- First of all, my congratulations to Armenia and to NKR for celebrating 25 years of Independence. Obviously, there are quite different stories. Armenia is recognized internationally and as I always used to say for the Armenians in Armenia and Artsakh, you are the people, who have survived through the years of destruction, people who always create a beauty. Armenia, as we all know, had a really very difficult times in early 1990s. There was no electricity. There was a common phrase that was actual for that time: "If electricity is on, fill your bath with water". And whenever possible, people had a bath filled with cold water.  And I was particularly too sorry for elderly people that were living in the big high-rise apartments, because in the dark, in the cold, when there was no electricity, they didn’t and couldn’t get food. They have to climb up fifteen floors in the dark and to carry food. There were very difficult days.

Now years later, you see beauty, creative dancing fountains, very beautiful and stylish reconstructed buildings in Yerevan..You are full of warmth and love… Walking yesterday, I met two young people. They have recognized me and stopped. They greeted me so warmly that I was pleased. One of them was a writer, the other one was a lawyer. Talking to them, I understood that there is a huge reserve of intelligence and talent. And at the end I come to the conclusion that I am so happy to be here.. Unfortunately, there are also different kind of challenges in Armenia. I know about the economic problems, I know the problems regarding the demography. Many people have left Armenia. This challenges need to be overcome.

Karabakh similarly… Karabakh has a horrendous war. Early this year there was the resurgence of the war again. So these are extra-challenges that Karabakh ought to overcome. But people of Karabakh are still there. They won an impossible war. Like people in Armenia, they are continuing to create beauty. There are beautiful, newly reconstructed buildings in Stepanakert (capital of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), in Shushi (town in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic). Two years before there were 3 new museums in Shushi. They are so creative and so different. But unfortunately, people in Karabakh have still a security problems, a permanent military threat from Azerbaijan.

- Now we can say, that there is a breaking point in the history of both Armenia and Artsakh. Considering them separately, what do you think what priorities and issues have to be raised and determined for the future?

- Clearly, one of the most important things is the attempt to try to insure some kind of understanding to reduce the military threat in Karabakh. One thing I think should feature more in the Minsk discussions is the whole situation in Nakhijevan. I’ve never quite understood why it is not featured more predominantly. I was there in Nakhijevan in 1991, when the Azeri tanks were firing Armenian villages, and destroying about 1000 Armenian khachkars (cross-stones) and churches. In that way engaging in cultural destruction and ethnic cleansing in Nakhijevan. I was expected to see an   emphasize on forbidding that in discussions about the future of Karabakh. But the red point is that Armenia lost  Nakhijevan. What Azerbaijan has done and is doing in the current time is a vicious crime. And the truth has to be told to the world.

For Armenia it’s a question of economic development. And there has to be created a possibility for wonderful and creative Armenians to live in their land, with jobs and employment. I think Armenia has a huge potential in terms of very well-educated younger generation that has to be given the opportunity to develop Armenia in all spheres.

- Taking into account the recent military operations in April initiated by Azerbaijan, how can you evaluate  Azerbaijan’s position during the whole process of conflict resolution?

- I would like to present my perception, considering the conflict settlement process from outside. Azerbaijan has a very high level of financial resources to spend it on a propaganda, on influencing the international community. But it seems to me that Azerbaijan so far is continuing to develop very aggressive propaganda against Armenia and Karabakh.  It is not being particularly constructive in any of the discussions about the future of the conflict. It focuses on the reoccupation of Karabakh and refusal of self-determination of Karabakh people.

Besides that Azerbaijan is continuing to form a very aggressive doctrine within the country. It was illustrated some years ago, when Azeri officer hacked to death an Armenian officer during the joint military training course. After that Azerbaijan has recognized him as a hero and gave the promotion to such an activity.  For me it is extraordinary. In the result, this perception is maintained in mentality of Azeri people. I mean not all of them, but for most of them the Azeri officer, who hacked to death an Armenian officer, is a hero.

- Are there any tools and mechanisms that have not been exerted during the negotiation process till now, in the result of which finally we’ll have a positive results ?

- I hope Minsk Group will see the reality and will come up with just and fair recommendations. My position has always been based on two fundamental principles: first of all NKR has to be part of negotiations in the future and the second, people of Karabakh have to be given the right of self-determination. They have to be recognized internationally and  respected. Since the declaration of Independence NKR has shown that it has a good governance, free and fair elections, accompanied by the participation of international observers, who give very high recommendations and evaluations. They proved that they are democratic, they can be economically viable, as Karabakh has huge potential for foreign investments. This conditions show that Nagorno Karabakh Republic both politically and economically has to be recognized and respected. 

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