Gambar, the leader of Musavat party is one
of the strong contenders in the presidential
race in Azerbaidjan.
Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh republic would
like Ilham Aliev to become the next president
of Azerbaijan, replacing his father, Heidar.
Presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan
October 15 and could have an impact on relations
with Karabakh and the two countries' nine-year-old
ceasefire and stagnant efforts at a peace agreement.
A recent poll by the socio-political organization
Democratic Reforms and Human Rights surveyed 500
Karabakhis. Sixty-three percent responded that
under president Ilham it will be possible to maintain
the ceasefire. They also don't rule out the possibility
that Ilham Aliev would agree to recommence negotiations
on the settlement of the conflict under the aegis
of OSCE Minsk Group with the participation of
Karabakh's elected officials. (As a "break-away
republic", most international diplomatic
agencies do not officially recognize Karabakh's
legitimacy, even in solving its own border disputes.)
Cautious Karabakh authorities are not saying
who their choice would be for their neighbor's
president. Informed sources say official Stepanakert
would prefer to see a predictable politician aimed
at constructive negotiations, and that Ilham Aliev
could become such a politician.
"Ilham Aliev can play a positive role in
the search of a mutually acceptable settlement
of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," said head
of Information and Analysis Department of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nagorno-Karabakh
As Martirosyan says one of the main contenders
of Azerbaijan opposition for the presidential
post, leader of Musavat political party Isa Gambar
had already been in power in 1992-1993.
"That power launched the war against Karabakh,"
reminds Martirosyan. He further expresses doubt
that after being elected neither Isa Gambar nor
Etibar Mamedov, leader of the Azerbaijan National
Independence Party, who is also a strong contender
in the elections, will wish to recommence negotiations
on the settlement of the conflict in a constructive
course with participation of the Karabakh side.
Haykaz Ghahriyan, chief editor of the governmental
newspaper "Azat Artsakh" (Independent
Karabakh) publishing in Stepanakert in Russian
and Armenian languages, takes a different view.
"After being elected none of the present
contenders will be holding negotiations with participation
of Nagorno-Karabakh," he says. "Constructive
approaches towards achievement of the mutually
acceptable settlement of the conflict are not
included into election programs of all candidates,
including Ilham Aliev."
According to Ghahriyan's opinion, there must
be political will for the dialogue with Karabakh
but all present candidates lack that will.
"It is confirmed by the public threats issued
during election speeches of all candidates promising
to resolve the Karabakh problem by military means
in case if Armenia doesn't agree with position
of Azerbaijan concerning the settlement of the
conflict," says Ghahriyan.
The head of Democratic Reforms and Human Rights
(non-governmental organization), Georgy Ghazaryan,
says not to trust pre-election speeches because
he believes they are of an openly populist nature.
"Azerbaijan is an unpredictable country
and that's why it is not clear what each of the
candidates is going to do in case of victory at
the elections," he says.
Meanwhile, many ordinary people of Karabakh (NKR),
especially in villages, are indifferent about
the upcoming presidential elections.
One reason for such indifference is the lack
of the access here to the statements of Azerbaijan
media. Programs of Baku television and radio are
not broadcast in Karabakh. Baku newspapers and
magazines are not sold in kiosks here. The population
of NKR gets all information about pre-election
situation in Azerbaijan mainly from Yerevan and
Stepanakert print and on-line media. As a rule
that information doesn't uncover the entire picture
of the events taking place in Azerbaijan.
Aliev son is likely to succeed his father
Another reason for the lack of the interest is
that most believe hostilities will not resume,
regardless of who gets elected. The majority of
Karabakh residents are mainly concerned with internal,
socioeconomic problems, solutions of which are
complicated by the fact of unrecognizing the self-proclaimed
However, independent observers agree that interest
of Nagorno-Karabakh rural population in the elections
is increasing with the approach of the election.
Observers explain their point of view with the
fact that with the approach of the elections main
Russian TV channels, which programs are broadcast
and enjoy great popularity here, will start presenting
much more broadcast time to covering the political
situation in Azerbaijan. Thus, elections in Azerbaijan
will be within eyeshot of the residents of NKR,
who have more trust in the Russian version of
the developing events.
(The Nagorno-Karabakh issue was raised in
February 1988. The population of mostly Armenians
wanted reunion with Armenia. However, on September
2, 1991 parliament of the autonomy proclaimed
Nagorno-Karabakh an independent state. Since 1992
settlement of the conflict has been taking place
under the aegis of OSCE Minsk Group. According
to the declaration of the OSCE Budapest Summit,
negotiations on the settlement of the conflict
had been taking place with the participation of
representatives of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
(Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia
and Azerbaijan as well as representative of Nagorno-Karabakh
in the name of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the self-proclaimed republic had been taking
part in those negotiations). Such a format of
negotiations had remained up to the OSCE Lisbon
Summit of 1996, after which new format including
meetings of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan
without participation of a Nagorno-Karabakh representative
had been introduced.
President of Karabakh Arkady Ghukasyan believes
that meetings of the presidents of Armenia and
Azerbaijan must not substitute the former format
of negotiations with participation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
He thinks that these two negotiation processes
can be conducted at the same time.)