Initiative: Karabakh starts lobbying for international recognition

Armenian political parties have welcomed the initiative of the Public Council for Foreign and Security Policy of Nagorno-Karabakh to start lobbying for the international recognition of the self-declared republic. Earlier this week the Council appealed to influential Diaspora lobbying groups and traditional Armenian parties to step up efforts on an international recognition of NKR. Artyusha Shahbazyan, secretary of the parliamentary faction of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a party that has strong influence in the Diaspora, said that if Stepanakert considers it expedient now to come up with such an initiative, it is necessary to support it. The head of the ruling Republican Party’s parliamentary faction Galust Sahakian also says that time has come when Nagorno-Karabakh itself should be able to raise issues before the international community.

Chairman of the Board of the opposition Heritage Party Armen Martirosyan thinks the initiative should have been taken a long time ago. “Before we turn to the parliaments of foreign countries to recognize the independence of the Republic, Stepanakert should resolve the issue with Armenia,” said Martirosyan. Heritage twice initiated the recognition of Karabakh by Armenia, but the initiative was dismissed by the government.

(Authorities in Armenia deem a formal recognition of Karabakh’s independence inexpedient at the moment as it will draw unnecessary international backlash, including accusations of Armenia as being an ‘aggressor’ state. Besides, such a decision would turn one of the main subjects of the current negotiations, i.e. the status of Karabakh, into a moot point thus making further talks meaningless and the likelihood of a new war higher. At the same time, Armenia says such a decision could be the ‘last bullet’ in its arsenal should Azerbaijan decide to torpedo the talks and opt for a military solution.)

In an interview with ArmeniaNow chairman of the NKR Public Council Masis Mayilyan said that the reason for passiveness in the matter of pushing for the recognition of Nagorno Karabakh was the hope of resolving problems with Azerbaijan as part of the negotiating process.

“Now that it is clear that the proposals of the [OSCE] Minsk Group clash with the interests of Artsakh [Karabakh] and Armenia, when the West and Russia have set precedents of recognizing new states without considering the opinion of the former ‘center’, threats of destabilization have been heard from Baku, and lately also from Ankara – the issue of NKR’s recognition as a mechanism to enhance the security of Karabakh has become quite urgent,” said Mayilyan.

He considers that Armenia should continue to participate in the Minsk process and simultaneously it is necessary to work purposefully towards the international recognition of Karabakh. “A recognized NKR will become a legitimate part of the regional security architecture, ensuring its own protection,” said the expert.

Mayilyan believes it is necessary to take measures to neutralize the Turkish-Azerbaijani military threat. “There may be two options: the first is the supply of arms and military equipment to the Armenian sides free of charge to maintain the balance of power in the region, the second is the international recognition of NKR and its invitation under one of the existing ‘security umbrellas’,” said Mayilyan.

Expert for the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) Mavel Sargsyan says there is one solution – the international recognition of the reality. “If the realities are recognized, the conflict is exhausted. That is what the policies of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh should be directed at,” said the expert.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a former autonomous oblast in Soviet Azerbaijan, declared its independence from Baku in 1991 after several years of ethnic tensions. The Armenian republic’s de jure independence has not been recognized by the world community or any country yet. In 2006, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan stated that Karabakh’s recognition [by Armenia] is possible if the talks with Baku on the Karabakh conflict reach an impasse.

While negotiations have been stalling, Armenian authorities have been reluctant to formalize the recognition of Karabakh, presumably not to provoke an escalation of conflict.

Azerbaijan’s leadership has repeatedly warned that it will consider renewing military operations should Armenia choose to recognize Karabakh’s independence de jure.