Time to shoulder the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh

Time to shoulder the peace process in Nagorno-Karabakh
Update: 07 July 2022 20:57
A+ A-
Foreign and security policy analyst Sossi Tatikyan called on the international community to support the peacekeeping process and presented her proposals for a long term political solution.

Conflict resolution between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh should be sustainable and contribute to positive peace, said Sossi Tatikyan, a foreign and security policy analyst from Armenia, in an article for EVN report. The author also called on the international community to support the region until a definitive political solution can be established.

“Negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should continue in order to find a comprehensive and long-term solution for the conflict, address its root causes, provide long-term solutions for all of its aspects and build confidence towards genuine reconciliation and sustainable peace,” she said.

While the OSCE Minsk Group is currently not operational in light of the polarized geopolitical environment, meditation and negotiations should continue in complementary formats, such as Russian-facilitated working groups, EU-facilitated meetings between Armenia and Azerbaijan, shuttle diplomacy by the U.S., French and Russian Co-chairs of the Minsk Group turned into envoys and acting individually, she said. 

The Need for Grouping Issues on the Peace Agenda

Lessons learned from 28 years of negotiations have shown that attempts to find package solutions for all issues failed between the first and second Nagorno-Karabakh wars, she said and proposed to to cluster different problems of the Armenian-Azerbaijani agenda of peace and normalization of relations, under the topics of delimitation of borders, unblocking of communications, addressing humanitarian issues and ultimately resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh - to avoid an impasse in a fragile and dangerous status quo.

Azerbaijan’s Rhetoric and its Dearth of Constructive Proposals

Tatikyan also criticized Azerbaijan’s discrepancy between the rhetoric meant for international and domestic audiences about a peace agenda, while threatening Armenians with a new war and inciting ethnic hatred towards them at the state level.

“It is obvious that Azerbaijan is trying to capitalize on its military victory. However, Azerbaijan’s unconstructive behavior and aggressive rhetoric cannot be normalized by the international community, and some red lines were signaled in the May 31, 2022, statement by the EU,” she wrote.

The diplomat said that Nagorno-Karabakh’s claim for self-determination cannot be considered a violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. “First of all, it was never part of independent Azerbaijan––only Soviet Azerbaijan. Secondly, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1244, which confirms the territorial integrity of the Former Yugoslavia and Kosovo as part of it; however, it did not prevent the International Court of Justice from concluding that Kosovo did not violate international law by its unilateral declaration of independence, she said.

The author kept on comparing the legal position of Nagorno-Karabakh with Kosovo.

“The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs have not considered Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan but a territory the status of which must be determined based on compromise. Any further military aggression by Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh or Armenia proper will lead to Azerbaijan’s stigmatization in the same manner as that of Former Yugoslavia and Russia for their use of military force respectively in Kosovo and Ukraine. If Azerbaijan carries out more ethnic cleansing of Artsakh, whether through military force or making them leave through softer methods, not only Azerbaijan but the international community will suffer a huge reputational loss, constituting another major blow to the international order,” she said. 

She reminded that Armenians have always constituted a predominant majority of the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region (89.1% Armenians and 12.59% Azeris in 1926 and 75.9% Armenians and 23% Azeris in 1979). 

Armenia’s Role

Arguing some beliefs that Russia has taken Armenia’s role through its peacekeeping contingent, Tatikyan claimed the issue was more about the self-determination of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The local authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh have repeatedly stated they would not accept to be under Azerbaijan’s control. The right of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to determine their future has been recognized by major Western interlocutors, in particular by U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracey in May and Special Envoy Toivo Klaar in June 2022. 

At the same time, Armenia continues to remain an agent for Nagorno-Karabakh diplomatic negotiations since the latter is not directly involved in them. Armenia also continues to economically subsidize the region in the absence of international assistance to the territory. Armenia has no moral right to abandon Artsakh Armenians and has an obligation to maintain its role, she argued. 

The analyst criticized the international community of abandoning the region in violation of the UN’s “Leave no one behind” principle. There has never been any international organization to contribute to peacekeeping, a political resolution, institution-building or development in Nagorno Karakh. Even humanitarian assistance to it has been limited to the ICRC and HALO Trust. The November 2020 ceasefire deepened its isolation further, she said. 

Issues of Status, Governance and Human Rights 

The status issue should be suspended for several years, until the International Court of Justice makes a decision in relation to the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Armenia v. Azerbaijan), the analyst argued. 

“Meanwhile, Azerbaijan should prove its compliance with the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ to protect certain rights claimed by Armenia, and refrain from any action, which might aggravate or extend the dispute. Armenia should also ensure its compliance with the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ in relation to mirroring claims by Azerbaijan. Any violations of provisional measures by either Azerbaijan or Armenia should be reported to the ICJ.”

Limiting the wide range of universal human rights to only cultural and social rights while ignoring political rights and civil liberties is unacceptable, she said.

“The Azerbaijani leadership and public figures have stated that Armenians can stay in their homeland in Artsakh as Azerbaijani citizens. This sounds more like an ultimatum than an offer. What will happen to them if they do not accept Azerbaijani citizenship? Will they be massacred or deported from their indigenous land, or allowed to stay without rights and freedoms?” she asked.

Security and Peacekeeping

No contemporary inter-ethnic conflict with high intensity, armed clashes, threat of ethnic cleansing and military aggression has been de-escalated or resolved without international guarantees for security and human right, Tatikyan said and praised UN peacekeeping missions for helping countries make the difficult transition from conflict to peace, after which UN political or peacebuilding missions help with political dialogue and peacebuilding.

The analyst proposed a mission under the EU Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) framework to be deployed to ensure the softer aspects of security in addition to the Russian peacekeeping ensuring the hard security of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

“Azerbaijan values its relationship with the EU and there is no legitimate reason it should see an EU Mission in Nagorno-Karabakh as problematic and Russia may want to share the burden of peacekeeping in Nagorno-Karabakh, especially in light of the ongoing Ukrainian crisis that is stretching its military and economic resources. Russia may also be interested in finding a niche for cooperating with the EU, given its current international isolation,” she argued.

*Photo: https://evnreport.com/