Armenia’s recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh could trigger a war

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The occupied territories of Nagorno-Karabakh (in yellow). [Wikimedia]

Recent preparations by Armenia to recognise as independent the occupied Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabkh will stop the negotiation process and give free hand to Baku to take advantage of its military superiority, writes Najiba Mustafayeva.

Najiba Mustafayeva is an expert at the Center for Strategic Studies (SAM) in Azerbaijan. She specialises in international law, human rights and conflict resolution.

Armenia’s government approved on 5 May a legislative initiative of opposition lawmakers on recognizing of the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” and sent it for consideration to the parliament. The draft law was initiated by MPs Zaruhi Postanjyan and Hrant Bagratyan.

The international organisations and third states adhere to the position that Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, and the military forces of Armenia must be withdrawn from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan, as stipulated by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, which are ignored by Armenia.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Shavarsh Kocharian said that the approval of the draft law by the Armenian government is linked with the results of the discussion between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, taking into account other developments, including external.

Both Russia and the US disapproved of the move by Yerevan.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the Kremlin called on all the parties involved in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to avoid steps that could violate the fragile ceasefire and lead to the escalation of tensions in the region.

“We are calling both sides of the conflict as before to avoid any steps that could destroy the rather fragile ceasefire and lead to an escalation of tension in Karabakh”, Peskov said.

US Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner restated his country’s position. “The United States, along with the rest of the international community, does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh,” Toner said, adding: “Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status will only be resolved in the context of a comprehensive settlement, so we urge the sides to come to the negotiating table in good faith in order to reach a settlement that achieves those goals”.

Following these clear signals of international disapproval, the Armenian government issued a clarification that it did not approve the bill which would recognise the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, but made an assessment of a legislative initiative by the two MPs. In Armenia, any legislative initiative of parliamentarians needs to get a preliminary assessment by the country’s government.

Armenia’s spokeswoman for the prime minister, Gohar Poghosyan, said that the government “has not approved the bill on recognising the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh at this stage”.

The National Assembly of Armenia has abstained for the time being considering the bill that would officially recognise the independence of the so-called “Nagorno Karabakh Republic”, the Armenian Parliament said.

Novruz Mammadov, Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, called the proposal a provocation of the Armenian leadership – aimed at spoiling the negotiation process, maintaining the status quo and disrupting the negotiation process, in affront to international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Mammadov also called  on the Minsk Group co-chairs to express their opinion on the issue.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan said that by regularly perpetrating provocative acts, as well as violating the ceasefire, firing at the cities and villages of Azerbaijan along the line of contact of armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the border of two countries, Armenia aims to freeze the situation and block any progress in the negotiations process. By such acts, the leadership of Armenia also attempts to justify the obvious failure of its aggressive and annexationist policy and satisfy the demands of various military and extremist circles of Armenian society for the sake of its own internal political ambitions.

The recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh is an attempt to stop the signing of a compromise on the basis of the “Kazan formula”, involving, in particular, a long-term discussion of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. By recognizing the independence of the so-called “NKR”, the Armenian government will waive this part of the “Kazan formula” and would destroy its integrity, built on a complex system of balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Thus, Yerevan is breaking a temporary compromise, not leaving Azerbaijan, to prepare for a military solution to the conflict.

As Russian political analyst Aleksandr Karavayev noted, Baku would evaluate the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as an act of abandoning the negotiation process that lasted for more than 20 years, under the guise of Minsk Group Co-Chairs. It was obvious that Co-Chairs, diplomats and heads of the states would also condemn the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh by Armenia. This would give a free hand to Azerbaijan, which has an overwhelming military advantage over Armenia.

Due to the controversial nature of the subject, euractiv.com will be happy to publish other views as well.

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