The meeting of Armenia's and Azerbaijan's presidents, in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia, on June 24, did not produce the hoped-for signed document on the basic principles that are to lead to a fuller document leading to a peaceful resolution of what is now a two-decades long conflict. The Armenian side, which won the military battles, continues to insist that there is no alternative to a negotiated solution. The Azerbaijani side talks about its increased military budget. In this context, the Kazan meeting was both a source of hope and cynicism. The Civilitas Foundation hosted two roundtable discussions with Caucasus analysts on the expectations and the realities. The six -- three from within Armenia, Alexander Iskandaryan of the Caucasus Institute, Historian Vahram Ter-Matevosyan and Tevan Poghosyan of the International Center for Human Development, and three from international organizations, Liz Fuller of Radio Free Europe, Laurence Broers of Conciliation Resources and Lawrence Sheets of the International Crisis Group -- presented their thoughts as did former Minsk Group American co-Chair Carey Cavanaugh. This pilot program is one of the types of programs being planned for the soon-to-be launched news and research-based live internet channel.
In the President’s speech in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, and especially in the questions and answers that followed, there were many misrepresentations, but three in particular must be disowned by the administration.
First, to claim that Armenia has not recognized the independence of Karabakh because Armenia accepts the principle of territorial integrity is to misrepresent Armenia’s position of the last 20 years, including his own years.
The Armenian Statistical Service March report on Armenia’s economic activity is evidence that Armenia is not out of the woods of the economic crisis. Following 2009’s 14.3 percent decline – the second biggest drop in the world – it could have been expected that two years on, when the world has already come out of the crisis, our own economy would be growing at least 5 to 6 percent, year to year. Instead, it appears that Armenia’s economy in March 2011 grew not at all compared to the same period last year.
Today, I once again visited Raffi Hovannisian, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia and founder of the Heritage Party, who has been on a hunger strike for the past eight days. In speaking with him, it becomes clear that the leader of one segment of the opposition is determined to continue this political protest as an expression of his disagreement with current policies. Nevertheless, with every passing day, the hunger strike is affecting his health – the effects of which are visibly apparent.
The ruling coalition’s announcement highlights the authorities’ disregard of democracy, elections and the public will. The ruling coalition has openly declared that in the upcoming parliamentary elections they are not prepared to do what political forces are fundamentally meant to do: that is, to enter into open competition