Alexander Murinson: For Armenia, international law is an empty notion

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Baku, October 6, AZERTAC

The Washington Times has published an article by Alexander Murinson, a researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

In his article, headlined "Revisiting events in Nagorno-Karabakh, Murinson calls Nagorno-Karabakh “an unhealed wound in the very psyche of Azerbaijan”.

Emerging as a result of an interethnic war of secession in a region of the Soviet Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet empire, it is one of the bloodiest conflicts in the post-Soviet space. Between 1992 and 1993, as the result of hostilities, Armenians expanded their occupation of the regions outside of the Nagorno-Karabakh proper, namely, Khojaly, Kelbajar, Agdam, Fizuli, Jabrail, Zangilan and Lachin. The internationally recognized International Crisis Group concluded that the war, in fact, created one million of refugees, who to this day exist as internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan. The conflict was "frozen" by the cease-fire agreement signed in Alma-Aty in 1994.”

“Although mutual accusations are only natural in any interethnic conflict, particularly one such as this marked by extreme violence and disproportionate use of force, what remains is the incontrovertible fact that it was the Armenian side which was the aggressor. Armenia, today, continues its illegal occupation of the territory recognized by international law as the sovereign territory of Republic of Azerbaijan.”

“U.N. Resolution 822 of April 30, 1993, "calls for the cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of local occupying forces troops (in this case, the "local occupying forces" refers to the Armenian forces-ABM) from Kelbajar district following its occupation on April 3, 1993. United Nations 853 of July 29, 1993, "demands the immediate cessation of all hostilities, calls on withdrawal of local Armenian troops from Agdam district of Azerbaijan occupied on June 23, 1993 and reaffirms U.N. Resolution 822," says Murinson.

“Enter the recent judgment in the case "Chiragov and others v. Armenia" on 16 June 2015 in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Emerging from an unexpected quarter, the European Court's ruling, the most definitive statement based on international law to date, made Armenia culpable as the aggressor and the "occupier" of Azerbaijani lands. A ruling by such an institution as the European Court of Human Rights, which cannot be suspected of favoring Azerbaijan, finally confirmed and took away any question that Armenia, in fact, is the culprit in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh occupation.

In this case, a group of former Azerbaijani residents of Lachin filed a lawsuit in the ECHR with a single goal: to return to their homes and property, after having been forced by Armenians to leave in 1992. The Court ruled: "[t]here had been violations on all accounts of the complaint (violations of several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, on protection of property, of right to respect for private and family life, of right to an effective remedy)." But most importantly, the court's ruling dismissed several objections put forward by the government of Armenia, including the one that this country didn't have effective control over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding territories, and thus lacked jurisdiction. According to Yerevan, Nagorno-Karabakh is a sovereign state called "NKR." The European Court of Human Rights produced a definitive conclusion in that case: "Armenia thus exercised effective control over Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding territories."

“Azerbaijan justifiably responded to this ruling with calls for an immediate withdrawal of occupying forces. In fact, the ministry of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan published a statement, saying among other things: "Consequently, Armenia is under the obligation to withdraw immediately, completely and unconditionally its armed forces from these territories."

Murinson says: “Armenia's response in their official statements was to disparage and attempt to humiliate the European Court. Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said that "the negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement are not conducted within the framework, under the umbrella, or through the mediation of the European Court of Human Rights" and that "the Co-Chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group is the only internationally mandated format dealing with the resolution of the issue."

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