The Interview of the President of the NKR National Assembly Ashot Ghoulyan to the Magazine “Nasha Vlast”
02 September 2016
  1. Mr. Ghoulyan, what is your opinion on the historical significance of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (Republic of Artsakh) proclamation, which took place 25 years ago, for the further destiny of the Artsakh’s people?

The decision taken on September 2, 1991, was crucial for the Armenian people of the former   region, which consisted of 95% of the Armenian population and in the 1920s has been divorced from the historical homeland and “donated” to the newly established Azerbaijan Socialist Republic. For the Artsakh people the declaration of independence was the only way towards preserving the identity and the attaining freedom. It proved to be a vital necessity for our people during the past 25 years. The process of self-determination of Artsakh people was carried out in a full compliance with then current USSR legislation and international law. Today, as well as 25 years ago, the best security steady and development guarantee of the Artsakh people is the existence of the independent statehood.

  1. Which are the main achievements over the years of the independence? Which are the main problems not solved yet?

The main achievement is the establishment of an independent state. After the republic proclamation we had to prove the validity and adequacy of the decision. In a challenging situation, even in the imposed war, the state-building process was going on in the country. One of the main achievements of the young republic was the formation and proper functioning of all the state institutions and steady moving towards democracy. As to the problems, they are the same like in any young state. In particular, we had many tasks to restore the country, to overcome the consequences of the blockade in which we found ourselves immediately after the declaration of the independence in addition to daily problems. Now we are focused on training competent and qualified personnel, especially in the sphere of economy, education and science.

  1. The history of Karabakh parliamentary Constitution dates back to the king of Artsakh Vachagan III the Pious – a collection of 21 of the canons adopted late in V – early in VI century by a popular assembly (Parliament). What is the role of the NKR National Assembly in the modern times?

A constitution, adopted nationwide during Vachagan the Pious, left a deep mark in the life of not only Artsakh but also throughout Armenia, becoming the country’s basic law governing all the rules of life, including the formation of legal consciousness, law- abiding , legal culture and public thinking. As a legal and political establishment, Ashkharhazhoghov (General Assembly), in general, served a sort of democratic structure with national decisions making. Under the current Constitution, the National Assembly exercises the legislative branch of power in the Nagono Karabakh Republic. The operating procedures of the National Assembly, the formation and activities of its bodies are defined by a special law, the Regulation of the National Assembly.

  1. What is the structure of the NKR National Assembly? How many parties are represented in the Parliament, which factions are operating there? In which areas do the permanent government bodies work?

The National Assembly consists of 33 deputies. The Parliament operates through the calling of sessions, meetings, and the work of its bodies, the National Assembly President, Vice-President, committees and factions. Based on the results of the last parliamentary elections held in May  2015 the National Assembly included 5 parties that formed the appropriate factions: “Motherland”, “Democracy”, “Dashnaktsutyun”, “Movement-88” and “Renaissance”. The National Assembly consists of 7 standing committees: Foreign Relations; Defense, Security and Law Enforcement; State and Legal Affairs; Social Affairs and Health; Production and Industrial Infrastructures; Fiscal and Economic Management; Science, Education, Culture, Youth and Sports.  The peculiarity of the 6th convocation’s Parliament is that is professional and it operates on a permanent basis.

  1. How many laws did the Parliament pass for 25 years? Which of them you consider the most important?

In total during over 25 years of its existence the NKR legislative branch of power passed 1447 laws. One of the greatest achievements in building a legal independent state is the preparation and adoption the NKR Constitution on December 10, 2006 through a referendum. Today we have an accomplished legal framework which regulates the normal functioning of the country. Over the last years the Parliament has mainly made amendments and changes to the already existing laws. 

  1. What is the main role and tasks of the Youth Parliament at the National Assembly?

We have placed the idea of creating a political leadership school in the base of this structure. This school should play a distinctive role in the Karabakh youth life, conducing the political responsibility and legal consciousness of pluralism and strengthening the culture of debate. At the stage of forming our young state which was formed in a democratic way, we need support of conscious and devoted citizens of nation-building, especially the younger generation. In fact, the future of our state and society determine the level of youth’s perception of the national and democratic values.

  1. NKR President Bako Sahakyan signed a decree to establish a specialized commission on constitutional reforms headed by you. According to the decree, the commission is aimed at presenting the concept and the project of the constitutional reforms. It is assumed that in case of constitutional reforms Nagorno Karabakh, like in Armenia, will go to a parliamentary regime. What is your view on the issue?

The system of public administration is one of the areas that needs constant improving. During the years of Artsakh independence a governance model has changed several times. The idea to start the process of constitutional reforms in the country belongs to political parties. The presidential decree created a specialized committee on constitutional reforms under the President of NKR, which is currently working on a concept of the future Constitution. We discuss the whole range of issues, including the difference of governance models. As a result of the public discussion the final choice will be done, and the concept will be presented to the president. After approval they begin working on the draft new Constitution, which will put to a national referendum.

  1. It is well known that the priority of the NKR foreign policy is to achieve an international recognition of the republic’s independence.

In our case it is the parliamentary diplomacy which helps us to overcome the stereotypes and ossified thinking in international relations. We believe that a deputy, whom people trust, must deal with all the problems of his people, all the more if these issues are related to security and prosperity of the country. In addition to stable relations with parliamentarians from different countries, in the National Assembly of the 6th convocation there are also some institutionalized structures, such as a friendship circle “Artsakh-France” (since 2013), a group of friendship “Artsakh-Lithuania” (since 2013), a friendship group “Artsakh-EP” (since 2014). Since 2006, we have been regularly conducting various activities dedicated to the NKR independence in the US Congress building. Since the late 1990s close relations with the parliaments of the Republic of Abkhazia, the Republic of South Ossetia and the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic have been formed. Of course, we have established close interparliamentary relations with the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia. From the very beginning of the independence not only communal but also the institutional relationship were established between the two Armenian states. This primarily concerns close cooperation in legislature. For many years the “NKR National Assembly- the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia” interparliamentary commission has been operating there. It holds meetings alternately in Yerevan and Stepanakert with the approved agenda twice a year.

  1. Azerbaijan constantly violates its obligations under the international agreements and the UN Security Council resolutions. Are the Azerbaijani authorities ready for the agreement?

Azerbaijan is very clever in using the “forgetfulness” of the international organizations, and tries not to remember that the condition of its membership in many international organizations was its obligation to resolve the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict in a peaceful way. Official Baku often refers to the UN Security Council resolutions but always “forgets” that those resolutions especially urged to stop hostilities. The last Azerbaijan aggression once again showed that Baku is not ready to lead a normal, civilized dialogue on the peaceful settlement of the conflict with Armenia, and especially Nagorno Karabakh.

  1. How do you imagine the final settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict?

This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic in Artsakh. Our way of nation-building taking form in the conditions of war and blockade can hardly be called an easy way, but during this period we succeeded in building a viable state based on modern democratic system of values, which is able to defend the security of the Artsakh people. In my opinion, only a recognition of the current realities, especially, the existence of an independent, democratic and sovereign the Artsakh Republic, is the only path to lasting peace.

  1. According to the polls, more and more Russians believe the NKR as an independent state. In your opinion, what is the reason the growing weight of the NKR in Russia?

The world recognizes and respects the peoples and countries which are able to defend their independence. Many Russians sympathize with the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and the fact of its 25-year existence. It’s important to note that Nagorno Karabakh is a Russia-friendly country, both countries have strong connections. There is a deep layer of common and positive historical memory between the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Russia, and this is one of the main components of today’s positive attitude of the Russians to our country.