“Azerbaijani refugees naturally can return to the Artsakh Republic, if they recognize its jurisdiction,” Artsakh’s President Bako Sahakyan said in an interview with The Armenian Mirror-Spectator while on a visit to Washington earlier this month.
The situation of refugees in the region is often raised in international circles. Sahakyan said, “At present, it is Azerbaijani refugees that are chiefly talked about. We naturally are in favor of talking not only about Azerbaijani refugees but also about Armenian refugees.”
The President declared, concerning Azerbaijanis who used to live in Artsakh and who may wish to regain control of their properties, “We have said on multiple occasions over the course of recent years that Azerbaijani refugees naturally can return to Artsakh, to the Artsakh Republic, if they recognize its jurisdiction.”
He said that while no such applications have occurred so far, “if such applications take place, we will process them in accordance with the delineated norms and laws and present our conclusions and answers.”
President Sahakyan appreciated the ongoing diplomatic efforts of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Minsk Group, of which the United States is a leading member. He said, “We understand that the international community in the person of the Minsk Group is concerned with finding a solution to this complicated issue. However, the Minsk Group’s interest is not sufficient. Our profound conviction is that the non-constructive, extremist, bellicose position of one of the parties, Azerbaijan, toward this issue is the obstruction which we are unable to overcome to achieve more serious agreements.”
He also said that for the peace process to be successful, Artsakh must be one of the full parties or “sides” in negotiations along with Armenia and Azerbaijan, as was initially agreed upon at the 1994 Budapest OSCE summit, and that Artsakh continues to do whatever is in its power to restore that format.