Kosovo Example?: NKR rejoins CUS, citing precedent

An interesting situation has formed on the diplomatic front of the Karabakh problem settlement. At present, there are all grounds to assume that in the visible figure the interests of Stepanakert will be represented not only by official Yerevan, but also by a structure known as the Commonwealth of Unrecognized States (CUS).

This commonwealth emerged along with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on the wreckage of the sunken USSR, however its members have never been recognized by the international community. This union includes the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia, which declared their independence on the territory of Soviet Georgia, the Transdnistrian Moldovan Republic, which declared its sovereignty on the territory of Soviet Moldova and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which declared its political independence on the territory of Soviet Azerbaijan.

Despite the fact that these countries de facto have existed for more than 16 years, the international community is not in a hurry to recognize either of them. However, it is in a hurry to recognize Kosovo as an entity of international law. It is this circumstance that prodded the members of the CUS to a new unification, despite the fact that in 2004 NKR quit this political structure.

A “Declaration on principles of peaceful and fair settlement of the Georgian-Abkhazian, Georgian-Ossetian, Azeri-Karabakh and Moldovan-Transdnistrian conflicts” was signed in the capital of the Transdnistrian Republic, Tiraspol, on June 16, by the ministers of foreign affairs of the Transdnistrian Republic, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and the advisor to the president on political affairs from the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

Immediately after the signing of the declaration, the advisor on political issues to the president of Nagorno-Karabakh Arman Melikyan, commenting on the Kosovo precedent, said: “The recognition of the independence of Kosovo as a legal precedent will, of course, be working. In this sense it may prove a certain acceleration in the recognition of our states. If Kosovo is not recognized, it will not become an occasion for us to give up our own independence, which we confirmed through a nationwide referendum.”

“The Kosovo precedent is a very important and difficult problem,” Transdnistria’s foreign minister Valery Litskay said. “Kosovo exists only seven years, and Transdnistria has existed for 17 years. It means we are much older. The institutions of the state that in Kosovo are just emerging, have worked in our republic in full strength. No referendums have ever been held in Kosovo, while it is a regular procedure in Transdnistria. There are many such examples. Kosovo residents still need to grow to reach our level.”

In his commentary South Ossetia’s Foreign Minister Murat Jioyev said: “When we declared our state independence, we did not look at Kosovo, it wasn’t an example for us. That’s why when they tell us that Kosovo should not be a precedent for you, it is not a precedent for us in the sense that we will in any case be seeking our independence. It is another thing that if Kosovo is recognized by the international community, it will automatically become a precedent for those states that are also seeking their recognition. It must be reckoned with.”

Abkhazia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Shamba expressed his opinion that “the recognition of the independence of Kosovo is the recognition of the current reality. The reality is that Kosovo exists as an independent state. Historically and legally we have incomparable situations and we have more grounds for being recognized. We are all different, but there must be a general principle, as everyone is seeking independence.”

Immediately after the Tiraspol meeting, Dashnaktsutyun Bureau member and Deputy Parliament Speaker Vahan Hovhannisyan made a statement in Yerevan: “I think that from now on Armenia must toughen its positions and put two tasks on the agenda: until Azerbaijan states about what concessions it makes and what specifically it can concede, we will not talk on this subject. And the second task is the participation of Nagorno-Karabakh in the negotiating process. Azerbaijan does not stop its attempts to shift the issue of the settlement from the OSCE to the United Nations, for it perfectly understands that more Muslim countries are represented there, and these countries do not understand the essence of the conflict, but, proceeding strictly from religious solidarity, will vote, as it often happens, for the pro-Azerbaijani resolution.”

Commenting on the statements that the recognition of Kosovo’s independence cannot become a precedent for settling the rest of the territorial conflicts, Vice-Speaker Hovhannisyan noted that these statements are not valid, since it will be impossible to explain to the people of Karabakh or any other people why they are not allowed to do what Albanians are allowed. “I am sure that the recognition of Kosovo’s independence will become a precedent for the settlement of other territorial conflicts,” he said.