POLITICS


Elchin Ahmadov: Armenian-style interpretation of international law and self-determination principle

Baku, November 15, AZERTAC

“Views on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict recently voiced by the Armenian leadership do not reflect the historical reality and the true essence of the dispute. Armenia`s illegal actions in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, particularly the policy of resettlement and deliberate change of the demographic composition, the looting of the material and cultural legacy of the Azerbaijani people cause serious concern,” Chairman of the Coordination Council of “Azerbaijani Community of the Nagorno-Karabakh Region of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, doctor of political science, professor Elchin Ahmadov has told AZERTAC.

“Undoubtedly, the main purpose of the Armenian leadership is to try, by all means, to make Azerbaijan recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians as a party to the conflict in order to avoid the responsibility for occupation and military aggression. The speeches of the Armenian Prime Minister at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and at recent Paris Peace Forum as well as dramatization of the events marking the 30th anniversary of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic" serve this purpose and run completely contrary to the norms and principles of international law. It is Armenia that violated the fundamental principles of international law, in particular the principle of non-use of force, occupied Azerbaijani territories, committed the Khojaly genocide 26 years ago and expelled Azerbaijanis historically living in Nagorno-Karabakh from their native lands.

It is important to note that the position of Azerbaijan on the settlement of the conflict is unambiguous. The problem must be solved only within the territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. This position is based on the norms and principles of international law, the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and numerous international documents on the conflict. The documents adopted by all international organizations regarding the peaceful settlement of the conflict further cement Azerbaijan's standing and confirm that the problem must be addressed on the basis of international law.

The UN Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 adopted due to the expansion of Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan as well as seven statements made by the Chairman of the Security Council stress the necessity of territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of the borders of Azerbaijan. The UN Security Council documents demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. In this regard, the decisions of the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are of vital importance, along with the four resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council, and lay a legal basis for defending Azerbaijan`s fair stance at an international scale. The decisions recently made at the EU and NATO summits unequivocally support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and emphasize the necessity of putting an end to occupation.

However, serious differences remain in the positions of the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides on the conflict settlement. The position of the Azerbaijani state remains unambiguous: Armenia must step-by-step return the occupied territories around the Nagorno-Karabakh and the internally displaced persons must return to their homelands. At the next stage, after the internally displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh – more than 80,000 Azerbaijanis – return to their historical homelands, the issues relating to status should be clarified. President Ilham Aliyev stated that the issue relating to the status can be discussed only after the Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh returns there, including to Shusha. Undoubtedly, all these issues must be settled within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev noted that the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh should live in the conditions of high status of autonomy within the state of Azerbaijan in future. The Declaration signed by the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia at Maindorf Castle near Moscow on November 2, 2008 also envisages the settlement of the conflict within the territorial integrity. The document adopted at the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Athens on December 5, 2009 also confirms this approach.

As for the Armenian side’s position, using the principle of self-determination as a pretext Armenians strive for the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state. However, Armenians fully used their right to self-determination in the very beginning of the century when they created their own independent state, the Republic of Armenia. Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region are one of the national minorities living in the independent Azerbaijan. According to international law, national minorities have the right to self-determination. But it cannot be in the form of independence because national minorities living in the territory of an independent state do not have such a right. From this point of view, by using the right to self-determination as a pretext, Armenians grossly violate international law.

President Ilham Aliyev has therefore repeatedly stated that the Azerbaijani state and people will never allow the establishment of a second Armenian state on the Azerbaijani land. Nagorno-Karabakh can be granted a status only within Azerbaijan and only within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

In addition, the Armenian side wants to ensure the involvement of Nagorno-Karabakh as a third party in the negotiations. However, this claim is also groundless and does not comply with any logic because the participation of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians in the negotiations as an independent party contradicts not only the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group, but also the aforementioned Declaration signed in Moscow late 2008, which clearly states that only Azerbaijan and Armenia can participate in the negotiations on the settlement of the conflict.

The President of Azerbaijan, who has repeatedly stated that Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan, emphasized during the meetings that the negotiations are held between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In addition, in accordance with the OSCE mandate of 1992, it was decided that Azerbaijan and Armenia should participate in the negotiations as the parties to the conflict, while the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh as the interested parties. It is an international format. At the same time, if the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh had been a party to the conflict, then Armenia would not have participated in more than 50 meetings held both within the OSCE Minsk Group since 1992 and at the level of presidents of the two countries since 1999 and would not have signed relevant documents. (The declaration signed at the trilateral meeting with the participation of the Russian President in the Maindorf Castle in Moscow late 2008 - E. A). At the same time, if the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh would like to participate in the negotiations on the settlement of the conflict, they then can meet with the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia therefore should first of all recognize that Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan, put an end to the occupation policy and then voice its opinion on the options for settling the conflict.

In the conflict settlement process, the Azerbaijani state and President Ilham Aliyev give preference, first of all, to the peaceful option. However, noting that the Azerbaijani state and people will never reconcile themselves to this occupation, policy of ethnic cleansing and temporary loss of our lands, President Ilham Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan has all grounds for liberating its lands and that it is confirmed by international law norms. The head of state emphasized that there will be no progress in the region unless the conflict is resolved and Armenia leaves the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, adding that Azerbaijan will continue to fight for its national interests till the end. At the same time, saying that justice is on Azerbaijan`s side in this fight, President Ilham Aliyev declared to the world that Azerbaijan will not deviate from its principled position either in the negotiation process or in any other processes developing in the region.

It is also important to note that in no case may the right of self-determination of peoples be interpreted in the context of political independence in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The issue of self-determination of peoples should not violate the principle of territorial integrity, which is one of the fundamental principles of international law, and should not contravene this principle. Armenia always voices aspirations of the Armenian community living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan to self-determination, namely to a new artificial state there. If all the Armenian communities living in foreign countries establish new artificial states, on the pretext of self-determination, in the territories of the countries where they live, then hundreds of new so-called Armenian "states" may emerge in those countries, including France, the United States, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Argentina and other countries where the Armenian communities live.

In this regard, Armenia's using the right to self-determination as a pretext is a gross violation of the norms of international law, particularly, the OSCE Helsinki Final Act principles such as sovereign equality of states, non-use of or threatening by force, inviolability of borders, territorial integrity of states, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in other states' internal affairs. Armenia should realize that it is not in a position of power either legally or politically. On the contrary, all international organizations recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and affirm the necessity and inevitability of resolving the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.

In addition, the Republic of Armenia has grossly violated all the international legal documents, particularly, the fundamental principles stipulated in the Articles I and II of the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration on the Principles of International Law of October 24, 1970, as well as in the CSCE / OSCE Helsinki Final Act of 1 August 1975. At the same time, Armenia deliberately mixes the rights of the Armenian communities living in the territory of other states with the rights of the majority of the independent peoples and groundlessly gives preference to the rights of the Armenian ethnic groups in relation to the territorial integrity of independent states. This kind of Armenian-style interpretation of international legal norms is completely unacceptable and incompatible with the Charter of Paris for a New Europe of 21 November 1990 on the territorial integrity of states and inviolability of state borders.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly stated in his speeches that the claims to the right of self-determination of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh run contrary to international law, and noted that the Armenian people already used their right to self-determination and created an independent state called Armenia. As the President of Azerbaijan said, if the Armenians decide to claim the right to self-determination in all the other countries they live in, one can hardly say what the situation will be and what will happen in the world in this case.

The UN Security Council Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 on the expansion of Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan emphasize the necessity of inviolability of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and state borders of Azerbaijan. Despite the fact that the UN Security Council documents demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, the efforts the OSCE Minsk Group has made over the past 26 years have not yielded any effective results because of Armenia`s open policy of military aggression. The main reason behind the failure of the OSCE peacekeeping mission in the region is the fact that the direct Armenian aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan has not been admitted. Seizing the opportunity, the Republic of Armenia is doing its utmost to avoid the responsibility for the aggression it waged with the aim of seizing the territories of Azerbaijan and press Azerbaijan to recognize Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh as a party to the conflict.

However, President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly and unambiguously underlined that "the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan cannot be a subject of negotiations", which has boosted hopes that the conflict will be solved fairly and the territorial integrity of our country will be ensured. At the same time, the head of state stressed that the Nagorno-Karabakh will never be granted independence and the world community will never recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh: "…However, the main reason of the campaign of slander and insult being waged against us by Western media and nongovernmental organizations, as well as the use of the "fifth column" which receives orders, is to force us to agree to the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. This will never happen."

Azerbaijan's stance on the settlement of the conflict is unambiguous. The problem must be resolved only within Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and internationally recognized borders of our country. This position is based on the principles and norms of international law, the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and numerous international documents on the conflict. In addition, documents of all international organizations demanding peaceful settlement of the conflict cement Azerbaijan's position and confirm that the problem must be solved based on the principles of international law. In this respect, four UN Security Council resolutions and decisions of the OSCE, Council of Europe and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are also of pivotal importance and lay a legal framework for defending Azerbaijan's fair position on the international level.

If superpowers want to stop the aggressor, who threatens modern international relations, they should take resolute practical steps in accordance with the Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and force Armenia to follow the will of the international community.

Azerbaijan urges the world community to take effective measures by warning the world of the possible threats that Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan may cause in the region and force Armenia to abandon its policy of occupation. We think that if the aggressor is not stopped, the international community`s efforts to restore peace and stability in the world will be ineffective and the gravity of ethnic conflicts will expand.

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