Ahead of a week of talks that are likely to have serious impact on the future of the peace efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a leading Armenian diaspora organisation, the American National Committee of America, has lashed out against the principles that form the basis of the discussions on the future of the region, describing them as "reckless". ANCA has called on its members to write to US congressmen telling them that "U.S. and international mediators need to reject the deeply flawed and highly reckless Madrid Principles, a one-sided proposal that demands upfront, strategic, and irrevocable concessions from the Nagorno Karabakh in return for only vague, deferred and reversible promises regarding status from Azerbaijan".
The ANCA statement carried on its website says that "the Madrid Principles would frontload all the risk on Nagorno Karabakh and deliver every reward to Azerbaijan, the aggressor state, - setting back the cause of peace and setting the stage for continued conflict and increased regional instability. A real and lasting peace must be based on the right of free people to live free from foreign rule".
The statement comes at a delicate monent, ahead of a week of talks that are likely to be crucial for any progress in the settlement of the conflict. The meetings are spearheaded by Russia's president Putin and will focus on a nuanced variation of the Madrid principles, known as the "Lavrov ideas", that Russia has put to the two sides in the conflict. President Putin is due in Baku on Monday where he it to meet President Ilham Aliev, and hold trialteral meetings with the President of Iran. On Tuesday, Putin hosts Turkish president Recip Tayip Erdogan in St petersburg, and later in the week Putin will meet President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia. It is likely that the outcome of these discussions will determine future prospects of settlement of the conflict.
The ANCA statement does not make any reference to the Lavrov ideas, but it is understood many diaspora activists are concerned that the Armenian government may be about to offer concessions on Karabakh under Russian pressure. Earler this week President Sargsyan, already under considerable domestic pressure, sought to reassure critics, saying that Karabakh will never be part of Azerbaijan (See report of Sargsyan's speech on commonspace.eu. here).
ANCA does not often criticise the Armenian government openly. The timing of its appeal to US congressmen is odd, given that the Madrid principles have been in the public domain for many years and seem at the moment overshadowed by the newer Russian version, known as the "Lavrov ideas". It is likely that the organisation is using the campaign to send a thinly veiled message to the Armenian leadership ahead of next weeks talks.
The meeting in Krakow between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan did not lead to a breakthrough, and none was expected. But there appears to be a change of gear in the negotiations, says Dennis Sammut in this week's Monday Commentary