A survey of 1,950 citizens of Armenia has found that 67.7 per cent say they are ready to “participate to their utmost in the defense of Mountainous Karabakh in the event of a fresh outbreak of hostilities”.
The survey, which also includes the opinions of 50 policy analysts revealed, too, that 40.7 per cent of the general public would agree to peace agreement compromises “only in case of Azerbaijani recognition of Karabakh’s independence”.
The Armenian Center for National and International Studies conducted the survey during late May until mid-June.
Raffi Hovannisian says public opinion remains determined to support Nagorno Karabakh in its struggle for recognition.
“It is our hope that the relevant republic-wide institutions will draw appropriate conclusions for the charting of Armenian national policy,” said ACNIS founder Raffi Hovannisian.
An ACNIS expert who participated in the survey said the most unexpected reaction from respondents is that 14 per cent said the only way to solve the Karabakh question is through war.
“We didn’t expect the number would even reach 10 per cent,” said political analyst Hovsep Khurshudyan.
Khurshudyan said the overall reactions reveal a surprising degree of commitment to Karabakh by the Armenian citizenry.
“When we would approach someone and ask them to participate in a questionnaire about Karabakh, the first reaction would be ‘I’m tired of hearing about Karabakh’ and some even said ‘Let them give it back.’
“But as soon as they sit down to answer, with every next question you see that these people are not going to give in, they are just regretting that the question hasn’t been resolved.”
Khurshudyan said the survey reveals that perceptions that Armenians have grown apathetic about the Karabakh issue may be over stated.
“The impression (before the survey) was that there was some estrangement among society and that disappointment and hopelessness has reached such a high level that nobody is interested in the Karabakh issue,” the analyst said.
Even though it was the very issue of Karabakh compromise that led to the political downfall of former president Levon Ter-Petrossyan, the ACNIS survey found that, among average citizens, only 29.5 per cent blame a lack of settlement on the former administration, while 34.6 per cent blame the current powers.
The performance of the OSCE Minsk Group (charged with negotiating a peace settlement) did not score well with either experts or other citizens. Seventy per cent of the specialists are dissatisfied with the Minsk Group and 54 per cent of the general citizenry are not even familiar with them.
The poll also found that 40 per cent of the experts are “completely dissatisfied” with the negotiating process, as opposed to only 13.5 per cent of the general public.
Khurshudyan said ACNIS will continue to analyze the numbers and dissect answers according to gender, age, etc.
The initial report and complete responses of the extensive survey can be found (in English and Armenian) at www.acnis.am.