15 Years: September 2 marks anniversary of NKR “independence”

Fifteen years ago, on September 2, 1991, a declaration was signed that would lead to Nagorno Karabakh’s provisional independence from Azerbaijan. It remains provisional, as the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is hardly recognized by international bodies. The bloody fighting has stopped, but the war of rhetoric wages between Armenia and Azerbaijan and 15 years of “independence” has produced neither legitimate statehood nor peace.

The historic proclamation was a reaction to Baku proclaiming – just three days earlier – that even in the post-Soviet reality, it claimed Karabakh (which had been annexed to Azerbaijan in 1920).

While Azerbaijan maintains its claim and Armenia maintains that the claim is groundless, the fallout is that borders are closed, and hostilities always a threat. International peace negotiators have effectively thrown in the towel, having reached an impasse in finding solutions that satisfy both sides.

Armenia-friendly analysts say that the means by which NKR pulled out of Azerbaijan, follow the same law by which Azerbaijan itself had quit the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

“Moreover,” says Karabakh issue analyst Alexander Manasyan, “the USSR Law adopted on April 3, 1990 ‘On the Order of Solving Problems Connected with a Union Republic’s Quitting the USSR’ supposed a right for autonomous units to independently decide their fate in the event of a given union republic’s quitting the USSR.”

Still before the adoption of the September 2 Declaration, the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR and the National Soviet of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region on December 1, 1989, adopted a joint resolution “On the Unification of the Armenian SSR and the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region.”

When Armenians elected their first president in mid-October, 1991, they hoped to install a single leader over a united state. However, the resolution intended to unite Armenia and Karabakh remained unapproved by the international community.

A year later East and West Germany reunited, while Karabakh and Armenia remained united only in theory and desire and in a willingness to go to war for the right. These years later, only paper and blood reflect the Armenian efforts.

“One should not forget that Nagorno-Karabakh was then in a fiery ring of the enemy. The referendum on the NKR’s independence held on December 10, 1991 in the presence of independent observers became the only elective action in the territory of the Soviet Union that took place against the backdrop of incessant firing,” says Manvel Petrosyan political analyst of the Caucasus Analytical Center. “In such conditions the Republic of Armenia had all moral bases to not recognize Azerbaijan as a member of the United Nations within the framework of its Soviet borders. Unfortunately, it wasn’t done.”

The recognition of the NKR’s independence is a national priority also today. The current world order tends to recognize new entities of the international law to a greater degree than to understand the act of reunification. In the last decade and a half more than 30 new states appeared on the political map of the world and this process is far from completion. The statements of official Baku that Azerbaijan was accepted to the U.N. within its Soviet borders (which it, by the way, rejected in a constitutional order) mean little anyway. The same U.N. members were Indonesia (from which East Timor separated) and Ethiopia (from which Eritrea separated). After all, the same Soviet Union was a U.N. member (and a permanent member of the Security Council), and declaring its sovereignty Baku for some reason did not reckon with those realities.

“Another major nuance that one should pay attention to is that the process of reunification as a maximum program from the outset presupposes independent existence of ethnically identical state units,” Manasyan says. “In other words – national integration through national differentiation. It is the road that Turks are traveling within the context of the establishment of Great Turan (today they are already working in the direction of the Xingjian Uygur autonomous region of China). There is also an example of the League of Arab Countries the activities of which are oriented to the maximal integration of Arab states.”