Ruben Zargarian: The imperative of recognition of the Republic of Artsakh in the context of global and regional security
The situation in the world is far from stability: wars, rampant terrorism, double standards of law enforcement practice of international law, increased competition in the global hierarchy.
Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and Armenia are the system-forming factors of regional and global security. The Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) in the process of repelling an aggression of Azerbaijan in the years of 1991-1994 and in April of 2016, twice conducted a peace enforcement operation in relation to Azerbaijan. For many years, the NKR Defense Army has been carrying out a peacekeeping function.
The Republic of Artsakh (NKR) is a responsible state that does not threaten anyone with a war and does not make territorial claims against its neighbors, which does not require the immediate withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from the occupied lands of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Unlike Azerbaijan, the Republic of Artsakh, recognizing itself as a successful and competent state, is ready for direct Azerbaijani-Karabakh negotiations.
In Azerbaijan, it should be finally comprehended that Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is a neighbor for Azerbaijan, not an enemy and that the Karabakh people equip their home of Nagorno-Karabakh for a decent and free life, not for the detriment of anyone. Azerbaijan should recognize the concept of peaceful coexistence and co-prosperity on the basis of mutual recognition of the NKR and Azerbaijan. This obvious thought should be urged to the Baku administration by the great powers.
Geopolitical challenges and threats to security in the region are, firstly, delaying the recognition of the long-established and successful Republic of Artsakh (NKR) and thereby the international legal settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, and secondly, the aggressive policy of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is not ready for compromises, sabotages the negotiation process, promotes the arms race. Azerbaijan threatens with war and even jihad, arranges provocations and terrorist attacks on the border, uses heavy artillery to shoot populated areas, promotes a misanthropic anti-Armenian propaganda in the media and education system, and tries to roughly falsify the world history. Azerbaijan aggressively calls into question the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Artsakh Republic (NKR).
Azerbaijan is a weak link in the negotiations. The position of the Azerbaijani authorities, if it can be qualified as a serious negotiating position at all, consists exclusively of unjustified territorial claims to the NKR and is reduced to the demand for the transfer of the seven reintegrated historical regions of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to Baku at the first stage in order to create convenient bridgeheads for the military seizure of whole Nagorno-Karabakh at the second stage. Territorial claims are also growing towards to the lands of the Republic of Armenia, which are systematically called "Western Azerbaijan" by the Baku authorities and by the Azerbaijani President I. Aliyev.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), Masis Mayilyan (at the time of the statement he was the Ambassador at Large, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), in an interview with ArmInfo on June 26, 2017, states: "By conceding the territories it is possible not to achieve peace but to postpone war. And a new war will begin with more favorable positions for the enemy" (http://arminfo.info/full_news.php?id=26333).
Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is bigger in geographical and historical aspects than the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) and the modern Republic of Artsakh (NKR). According to international law, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) has the full right to restoration of its territorial integrity and self-determination in its natural historical borders, in which it was illegally occupied and annexed by Azerbaijan in 1921. According to the norms of international law, the division of the annexed Nagorno-Karabakh by the authorities of Azerbaijan on the territories with different administrative status does not change the status of the entire Nagorno-Karabakh as an occupied and annexed territory. Similar decisions of Nazi Germany on the division of the occupied countries of Europe were qualified as legally void.
What would be the reaction in France if someone would demand the restoration of the illegal division of France by Nazi Germany to the zone of occupation, the Vichy zone and the annexed Alsace and Lorraine, which is similar to the division of Nagorno-Karabakh on the territory with different administrative status and their annexation by the authorities of Azerbaijan in 1921, and would not recognize the independence and territorial integrity of the French Republic?
One of the most important principles for the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict is the need to restore the territorial integrity of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). President of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh Republic) Bako Sahakyan stressed on May 9, 2009: "There is only territorial integrity – the territorial integrity of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which is recorded in the NKR Constitution." (http://www.regnum.ru/news/1161578.html).
The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples that was adopted on December 14, 1960, by the UN General Assembly states: "All peoples have an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory […] the integrity of their national territory shall be respected" (http://www.un.org/ru/documents/decl_conv/declarations/colonial.shtml).
As examples of the international precedents can be regarded the following: the decolonization and reunification of Walvis Bay and Penguin Island with Namibia, the Spanish colonies of Ifni and Tangier from Morocco, Hong Kong and Macau with China, Goa and Diu with India, the Dodecanese islands with Greece, etc. In May 1987, the UN Council Namibia adopted the Luanda Declaration, which reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Namibia to self-determination and independence precisely in a united Namibia, with the preservation of its full territorial integrity, including Walvis Bay and the Penguin Island. (Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-second Session, Supplement No. 24 (A / 42/24), Part Two, Chapter III, paragraph 203). Previously, these territories were not administratively a part of Namibia but belonged to South Africa, but historically and geographically they were in Namibia.
The archaism of unjustified Azerbaijani territorial claims repeats and resembles the ridiculous demands of Al Qaeda leaders for Spain to withdraw their troops from the seven regions of South and Central Spain (the districts of Toledo, Granada, Sevilla, Cordoba, Cadiz, Valencia, Zaragoza) and transfer over more than half of the Spanish land to the Moors. Similar requirements are applied to Portugal – in relation to the Algarve, to Italy - in relation to Sicily, Sardinia, Calabria, to Greece – in relation to Crete, to France – in relation to Languedoc.
The territorial claims of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Artsakh (NKR) that are based on the falsifications and unjustified grounds should be regarded as inappropriate, unacceptable and irrelevant for the search for mutually acceptable solutions on the issue of concluding a peace treaty.
As in the years of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh war in 1991-1994, Azerbaijan continues to violate UN Security Council resolutions No. 822, 853, 874, 884, which is expressed in the continuation of hostilities in the form of escalation of terrorist attacks on the NKR and Armenia, threats to resort again to military force, refusal to stop hostile acts in terms of economic, transport and energy blockade of the RA and NKR, refusal from direct negotiations with the Republic of Artsakh (NKR).
Baku demonstratively ignores the agreement signed by Azerbaijan, NKR, and Armenia under the auspices of the OSCE on February 4, 1995, on strengthening the ceasefire.
The official Baku threatens to shoot down civilian aircraft flying to the NKR capital, Stepanakert. All these terrorist appeals are a challenge not only to the NKR but also to the world community.
The President of the Republic of Artsakh ( Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) Bako Sahakyan stated in an interview with "Ekho Moskvy" on May 22, 2011: "We believe that a new form of terrorism appears in the political leadership of Azerbaijan, and it does not concern only Karabakh and the Karabakh and Armenian people. This threat equally deals with the world community and the whole civilization" (http://echo.msk.ru/programs/beseda/777384-echo.phtml).
The second regional threat to security is Turkey's aggressive policy. The policy of the Turkish government "zero problems with neighbors" was transformed into "zero neighbors without problems". The aggressive policy of Turkey is characterized by the following factors: incitement of conflicts in the geopolitical space from the Balkans to China and from Russia to the Middle East; the development by the ruling elite of Turkey of the plans for the dismemberment of Russia and Ukraine; the actual participation of Turkey in the terrorist war against Russia in the North Caucasus and other regions of Russia; the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus; artificial ignition of the problem of Pomaks ("ethnic Turks") in Bulgaria; Turkish expansionism towards Georgia in Adjara, Kvemo-Kartli, Javakhk; the provocation by Turkey of a war with Greece and territorial claims to it; Turkey's non-recognition of the genocide against Armenians in 1915-1923; the unlawful blockade by Turkey of the Republic of Armenia; Turkey's delay in recognizing the independence of the Artsakh Republic (NKR), as international law imperatively demands; incitement of Turkish-Iranian and Turkish-Arab contradictions; terrorist intervention against Syria; the actual support by Turkey of the terrorist "Islamic State". In accordance with the plans of the political elites of Turkey, a number of the territories of Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia: Kosovo, Raska (the Turkish name is Sandzak), as well as the whole states like Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina must become a part of the new Turkish empire.
On the other hand, in recent years the Turkish press has published articles on the Karabakh issue, which are clearly addressed to the Azerbaijani side. Turkish political analysts-pragmatists (Emin Pazardzhi, Kadri Gursel, Beglul Ozkan, Ragip Zarakolu, etc.) state that the independence of the NKR is irreversible, that Azerbaijan will never be able to capture the NKR either by military or diplomatic means.
It should be noted that the genocide of Armenians in Turkey and Western Armenia in the years of 1915-1923, the delay of its condemnation and the liquidation of its consequences, which had a destructive influence on history, on wars and genocides of the entire subsequent epoch to the present day, is at the source of the process of degradation of security mechanisms in the world and the emergence of new conflicts.
It should be emphasized that the genocide against Armenians in Turkey, the dismemberment of the cradle of the Mediterranean-European civilization of Armenia, the occupation of 9/10 by Turkey and Azerbaijan of the territory of Armenia in the beginning of the 20th century, including occupation of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), became the greatest civilizational and geopolitical catastrophe in the history of mankind. If the genocide of Armenians had been condemned in time and its consequences had been overcome, then the course of the world history would have gone more constructively, and the likelihood of forming terrorist organizations in the Middle East such as the "Islamic State" would have been minimized.
The occupation and annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan in 1921, as well as the Armenian genocide in Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, became one of the consequences of the Armenian genocide in Turkey and Western Armenia and the dismemberment of Armenia.
Geopolitical challenges and threats to global security are the rampant terrorism, including the terrorist activities of the "Islamic State" and similar organizations, and their attempts to spread the terrorist jihad to the Caucasus.
Another problem is postmodernism in politics, which leads to chaos in international relations, discrediting international law. Thinking in international affairs becomes formalized and fragmented, as well as unable to calculate the consequences of actions and risks for the history of mankind. The postmodern approach attempts to level off the guilty and the right, denies the possibility of comprehending historical reality and historical fact, imposes an artificial notion of the plurality of truth, puts on the same board the victim of aggression and the aggressor himself.
The successful development of the Karabakh state is one of the system-forming factors of regional and global security. The 100-year-old Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, which began in1918, has been continuing too long. If in 1991, after the referendum on the independence of the NKR, which was held in a full accordance with the norms of international law, the international community had recognized the NKR, as imperatively was required by international law, there would have been no Azeri aggression in the years of 1991-19994 and in April 2016, and the conflict would have been settled long ago.
The stalemate in the negotiation process within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group is largely due to the fact that the Republic of Artsakh (NKR) continues to remain de jure the side of the conflict, but de facto illegally removed by Baku from participation in the negotiation process. The format of the negotiations, in which only Armenia and Azerbaijan participate, is a violation of the OSCE official decisions of the Budapest Summit of December 1994 and the Prague Executive Summary of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office of March 31, 1995, on three parties to the conflict and does not reflect the essence of the conflict, the main parties of which are NKR and Azerbaijan.
It is important to emphasize that Azerbaijan is not empowered to decide the issue of participation or non-participation of the NKR in the negotiation process since this issue of the trilateral format is legally enshrined in the fundamental documents of the OSCE and other international organizations.
The lesson of the unsettled Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict and the growth of the constant threats of the Baku administration to resume aggression and systematic Azerbaijani military-terrorist provocations on the border is that only negotiations are not enough to ensure peace and settlement. It is also necessary to have a responsible and obligatory attitude to the international law. The Baku administration demonstratively ignores international law. If Azerbaijan refuses to recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh (NKR), as international law imperatively demands, then the international community has no choice but to force Azerbaijan to respect international law. Delaying the resolution of this issue, in fact, encourages the destructive policy of Azerbaijan, pushing the Baku administration to act more aggressively, up to unleashing a new military and terrorist aggression. The maturity and civility of the world depend on overcoming the consequences of the Armenian Genocide and the recognition of the Republic of Artsakh (NKR).
The Baku Administration is littering the Earth's information field with its anti-legal theses that there is a contradiction between the right of peoples to self-determination and territorial integrity. In fact, the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination can in no way contradict the concept of the territorial integrity of states, since they apply to different spheres of international relations. The UN Charter regards the territorial inviolability of states as a ban on external encroachments. In the case of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, there is no external factor, but there is a conflict between the NKR and Azerbaijan, the two states formed on the territory of the former Azerbaijani SSR. This is realized by the Azerbaijani authorities and that is why they are trying to replace the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh with the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. But it is generally recognized and legally documented in the documents of the OSCE, UN and numerous other international organizations, that Nagorno Karabakh is the main party to the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict.
It should be noted that in international law there are no norms obliging the self-determining state to receive the consent of the metropolis, from which it is separated. In international mass media and expert analyses, the situation in the NKR and a number of other unrecognized states is characterized by a stable abbreviation "UDI", i.e. Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
In the conclusion of the International Court of Justice on July 22, 2010, it was recorded "that no general prohibition against unilateral declarations of independence may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council". The Court concludes that "general international law contains no applicable prohibition of declarations of independence". (International Court of Justice, «Accordance With International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo», Advisory Opinion of 22 July 2010, available at http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/141/15987.pdf; http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/newsline/78EC70B29CFE6B2144257C98004FF496).
A written US memorandum of April 17, 2009, on Kosovo states that the principle of territorial integrity does not exclude the emergence of new states on the territory of existing states (p. 79). "Undoubtedly, declarations of independence can - and often do - violate domestic legislation. However, this does not mean that there is a violation of international law" (p. 51) (http://www.mid.ru/brp_4.nsf/newsline/78EC70B29CFE6B2144257C98004FF496).
The Chairman of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matvienko, on March 11, 2014, stressed that "the precedent in international law is the law", recalling: "There is already established an international practice. In particular, I want to recall the decision of the International Court of Justice of the United Nations on Kosovo of June 22, 2010, which, based on the paragraph 2 of the Article 1 of the UN Charter, created a precedent that does not require a mandate of the central authorities to hold a referendum and to resolve the issue of self-determination of a part of the state" (http://www.tvc.ru/news/show/id/33794).
The international law enforcement practice of resolving ethnopolitical conflicts is based, first of all, on holding a referendum on independence. Referendums have already been or are being planned in East Timor, Eritrea, Quebec, the Faroe Islands, Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Crimea, Gibraltar, Falkland, Aland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Catalonia, Western Sahara, New Caledonia, Southern Sudan, Greenland, Montenegro.
The Republic of Artsakh (NKR) was formed as a result of a nationwide referendum on state independence held in Nagorno-Karabakh on December 10, 1991, in full compliance with both international law and the legislation of the USSR that still existed at that time.
On March 11, 1999, in Strasbourg, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh, which stated that "in September 1991 the NKAO declared its independence after the collapse of the USSR and similar declarations of the former Union Republics" (June 21, 1999. Official Journal of the European Communities, C175 / 251 http://www.mfa.am/u_files/file/nk-rus_2014.pdf). Thus, the international legal validity of the proclamation of the Karabakh independence, similar to other union republics, was recognized. The NKR has the all necessary grounds for membership in the UN.
In 1905 in Norway, in 1944 in Iceland, in 1962 in Western Samoa, in 1974 in the Comoros, in 1977 in Djibouti, in 1993 in Eritrea, in 1999 in the East Timor, in 2006 in Montenegro, in 2011 in Southern Sudan similar referendums were held on independence, the results of which served as the main factor for recognition of these states by the world community as sovereign states.
On November 8, 2002, a referendum was held in Gibraltar, in which 98.97% voted against the project of creating a model of "joint sovereignty" between Spain and Great Britain in this self-governing British colony. The UK referred to the results of the referendum as the basis for a final settlement of the Gibraltar issue in the negotiation process. British Deputy Foreign Minister Denis Makshayn stressed that we are now living not in the seventeenth or nineteenth century when diplomats could sign treaties and people had to obey them.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin, explaining the decision on the Crimea, in an interview in the film "Crimea. Returning to Motherland" on March 9, 2015, stated:" We know the results of the referendum. And we did what we had to do"(http://russia.tv/brand/show/brand_id/59195).
Thus, the final recognition by the international community of the long-established and successful Republic of Artsakh (the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) is fully in the line with contemporary realities.
The delay of the final recognition of the NKR, ignoring the objective reality of international life, has long become a factor that seriously complicates interstate relations. According to the declarative theory of recognition of states, recognition recognizes the appearance of the addressee of recognition and serves as a mechanism facilitating the implementation of contacts with it. Most international lawyers believe that it is the declarative theory of recognition that corresponds to the realities of international life.
Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, which was signed in Montevideo (Uruguay) on December 26, 1933, states that "the political existence of the state does not depend on recognition by other states." Article 1 provides the legal definition of a state: it is a subject of international law, which should have the following characteristics: a) a permanent population; b) a certain territory; c) the government; and d) the ability to enter into relations with other states. (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Montevideo_Convention). It is obvious that the NKR has all of the above characteristics. Thus, the signing of the "Convention on the Rights and Duties of States" by such countries as the United States, Honduras, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Argentina, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile , Peru, Cuba, imposes on them a legal obligation to qualify the NKR as an independent state.
The civilized and lasting settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict should be based on the following principles: determination of the status of the Republic of Artsakh (NKR) the exclusive right of the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), the international final recognition of the state independence of the Artsakh Republic (NKR), the mutual recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh (NKR) and the Republic of Azerbaijan, restoration of the territorial integrity of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), peaceful settlement of disputes and non-use of force or threat of force.
The UN Charter and international law imperatively dictate the need for recognition of the NKR. The uniqueness of the situation in the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, unlike other conflicts, lies in the fact that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs of Russia, the United States, and France have no disagreements; all three powers recognize the right of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to self-determination. A joint final recognition of the independence of the NKR would contribute to regional security and stability, ensuring their national interests, and would create a precedent for a civilized settlement of the conflict. Whether the country is responsible or not is also determined by whether it is able to prevent and stop aggression against other countries and peoples. This recognition will be a preventive measure against the new aggression of Azerbaijan and will give dynamism to the negotiation process.
Ruben Zargarian, Candidate of Science (History) Degree, Advisor of the 1st class of the MFA of the Republic Artsakh (NKR)
(Translated by Nelli Efremyan)