The conversation was held between the journalist Barkhatov and Robert Kocharian.
The conversation was recorded by Bakour Karapetyan, 22.10.1988, Stepanakert, Ghar-silk industrial complex.
Barkhatov: - How will the events develop? The army is a part of Moscow and it is an obstacle as well. Anyway, it will not assist.
R.Kocharyan: - Poor army… to be in such a situation. Every side wants to strengthen its positions. Such suspending situations lead to it. The army is equally bad for both sides. And the situation itself outgrows into a hostility towards the center, towards the army.
B.: - Is the army a unique factor which disturbs some forces? Can a little protest from both sides lead to the war?
R.K.: - The removal of the army must be followed by granting the population with weapons which aims at the provision of security to the country. This will be a restraining action.
B.: But it is important to remove the “Berlin wall”. The aim is not seen in this or that operation. It was not so in Afghanistan. The existence of the army here is senseless. It is just the third party of the hostile forces. How will the events go on?
R.K.: - We have already solved our questions, i.e. – we made up our decision at the session.
B.: - But where is the compromise?
R.K.: - Total independence of Nagorno-Karabakh from the political structure of Azerbaijan.
B.: - And how do you imagine its truly political accomplishment?
R.K.: - So, on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh the laws and land code of Azerbaijan SSR should not function. Our regional structures must be restored and be subject to the Center. That is the compromise.
B.: - Such a counteraction exists from the side of Azerbaijan party against Armenian party. You spoke about the arithmetic division of the land, i.e. – Shoushi, which will not become Armenian in the recent years.
R.K.: - But if we speak about the regions, then there are more Armenians there.
B.: - I speak about the plateau where there are more Azeri. The Azeri factor from the other side exists as in your side, and they are inclined not to compromise. One Karabakh against the other.
R.K.: - The total bringing out of Karabakh will create equal opportunities for both the Armenians and Azeri. And we will see together what is better…
B.: - This is the first step. But it will not happen as they consider Karabakh their land for the beginning and as to them, this step is considered to be some retreat.
R.K.: - Principally, the separation already took place and we should realize it. Their position is different now. They have a legislative support of Moscow, they have their own power, extra-Soviet power.
B.: - But they created a simple mechanism of monkey-houses, you know what kind of level is.
R.K.: - There is something more there – coincidence of the interests. We were considered to be the disturbing side of the tranquility. We tried to change something, but the constitutional, empirical and original opposition to our reaction was obvious. Our position is more complex, but we will try to change something. The interests of the Azeri side coincided with the interests of the Center – to keep status quo! We felt it here. But there, the fear of Moscow before making decision of such kind of problem because of the chain reaction, the collapse of the Empire and so on. Then Sumgait… The coincidence of the interests of big and small Empires. But it is a temporary coincidence, it worked out a temporary position. Now we are disentangling the consequences of such a position. Then the chief of the Council of Ministers Nikolai Rizhkoff directly says: “Yes, we didn’t estimate the conditions at first…”, I spoke to Ligachoff, he also says about it as well as other members of Politbureau of Central Committee of CPSU speak about it. The impression on all of it is rather unbiased, of course, with a delay of 6 months. Nobody told us that we were not right from the beginning. But we were told all the time: the Azeri factor exists, the fear of the recurrence of Sumgait. It means that Armenia will be trampled down and the problem will be solved. But it was said that if we recognize 19 similar problems in the state, so we have to solve them. 2 years ago I said: if you don’t solve the problem, we will make these problems become 50 and even more. If our problem is not solved, then other small nations will solve their problems de-facto.
B.: - Let it pass. Non-interference of Moscow is beneficial to Azerbaijan. So what should we do?
R.K.: - And we didn’t step aside starting from February. We build our life according to our perception of it.
B.: - There is no other way.
R.K.: - We don’t want to attack anybody. It is absurd to think that Armenians want to attack Azerbaijan and to sink them in the Caspian sea. Common sense suggests that we are a defending side. So we are going to build our internal life basing on the fact that we are independent people.
B.: - If we take into account the position of power, it turned out that you are condemned by this policy, with 150 thousand people.
R.K.: - Why so?
B.: How will you be able to resist such a policy?
R.K.: - But we look into the future…
Bakour Karapetyan: - To speak the truth, the story recurs. It was like this in 1918s and 1920s. Karabakh was blockaded.
B.: In modern times, the blockade is different…
R.K.: - So what do you offer?
B.: It is interesting, what will happen, whose support do you reckon on?
R.K.: - Anyway, we have Armenia from which we are cut off by 4 km long barrier.
B.: - If the army really leaves, it will be the war not only between Karabakh and Azerbaijan, but Armenia will also become involved, because your brothers will not allow to enthrall Karabakh. But the war will be long, uncompromising. Finally, the common consent will be found between the hostile sides – Armenia and Azerbaijan.
R.K.: - Armenia is not a hostile side. One can find common interests between Karabakh and Azerbaijan at this time.
B.: - I also think that it is possible.
R.K.: - But, unfortunately, the National Front of Azerbaijan, while setting in front of it the problem of gaining the maximum, that is, the joining of Iranian Azerbaijan (Atrpatakan-Azerbaijan) to this Azerbaijan, while the first one is an indivisible part of Iran, but it leads such a policy towards Karabakh that it denies its own program. I think that there are forces in Baku, who would like to have a good neighbor rather than an enemy.
B.: - Blood-letting, although being a term of surgery, can lead to an acceptable condition of both sides.
R.K.: - Anyway, there will be no attacking side.
B.: - Yes, in such a war it loses its meaning.
R.K.: - We rely on the assessments of the common sense of Azeri politics. We aim at own independence. Azerbaijan is the Republic which tries to keep us in the borders of its own State system.
B.K.: - But the war will be on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, but not somewhere in Baku.
R.K.: - But we should precisely define today, who the aggressor is. Now everything is clear. If they speak about the sovereignty, then the initial question is the circumstance that the owner of the land is the nation that lives on that land.
B.: - But the separations will be as well.
R.K.:- Then let’s look deeply. The first Azeri family appeared in Khodgalou only in 1948.
B.: - The history is always…
R.K.: - In that case, we have the notion of forcible capture, which doesn’t know temporary notions.
B.: - One can’t do much with the historical information on hand.