Yesterday, in the city of Nagorny Karabakh, president election took place.
To the post of the self-declared republic, four candidates pretended: the president Arkady Gukasyan, speaker of the local parliament Artur Tovasyan, the chairman of the public and political organization Unity, Grigory Afanasyan, and the chairman of Christian-Democratic Party, Albert Gozaryan.
As it could be expected, the victory belongs to the today’s head of Nagorny Karabakh. 89 percent of the electorate voted for Arkady Gukasyan. The other three candidates did not managed to compete with Gukasyan: Artur Tovmasyan gathered 8.1 percent of the vote, while the two others – only 3 percent each.
Arkady Gukasyan is known as supporter of state independence of Nagorny Karabakh, and not only from Azerbaijan, to which Karabakh belonged till 1980s, but from Armenia, too. Though, this does not exclude close relations between Yerevan and Stepanakert (the Nagorny Karabakh capital). It should be reminded that today’s Armenian President Robert Kocharyan was president of Nagorny Karabakh till 1997. That was Gukasyan who replaced him on this post.
Today, Armenia is the only state which acknowledged the Nagorny Karabakh independence. The election in Nagorny Karabakh was called by UN, EU, and OSCE representatives “untimely.” Russian Foreign Ministry, in its statement on the election in Karabakh, stressed that although Moscow acknowledges the Azerbaijan territorial integrity, the course of peace settlement of the conflict between Baku and Stepanakert cannot depend on carrying out the election in Karabakh.
The Azerbaijan reaction was, certainly, much harsh. Official Baku called the election in Karabakh “dirty play” and appealed to boycotting it. Though, local citizens did not listen to this appeal. There are not so many Azerbaijanians now in Karabakh, and they hardly could seriously influence political processes in the self-declared republic.
The latest election in Karabakh hardly will cause aggravation of situation in the region. Remembrances about the 80s war between Armenia and Azerbaijan are fresh enough. So escalation of conflict is now not profitable either for Baku, or for Yerevan, or for Stepanakert. The question is only about when the way from “Karabakh cul-de-sac” will be found. All the negotiations about the Nagorny Karabakh status have brought no results yet. It looks like this problem hardly will be solved in the nearest future.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/08/12/45523.html