Karabagh Issue on World Agenda


By Edmond Y. Azadian

While the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan continue meeting and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) representatives continue visiting the region, the Karabagh conflict is still far from being resolved.

It is fairly obvious that the parties involved in the negotiations have a vested interest in keeping the issue unresolved, so that it may be used as bargaining power in order to wield pressure on Armenia and Azerbaijan.

People in Karabagh have held a referendum to declare independence, which no country has recognized yet. Armenia is in a precarious situation and should Yerevan recognize Karabagh’s independence, it will risk war with Azerbaijan. Since Armenia has not yet recognized Karabagh’s independence, it cannot ask nor expect other countries to recognize it.

Cynicism is rampant in international politics. Russia waged a war against Georgia and recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, ignoring Western calls for the principles of territorial integrity. Similarly, Europe and the United States forcibly partitioned the former Yugoslavia to grant independence to Kosovo.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many minorities have broken away from the main countries to attain independence. For example, East Timor was emancipated from Indonesian rule, and more recently Southern Sudan became a new country. The issue of territorial integrity was not raised in any of those cases, certainly not loudly enough to stop the process.

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When the issue comes to Karabagh, however, territorial integrity becomes a sacrosanct principle and statesmen who are not embarrassed to apply double standards, go to great lengths to explain that Karabagh is a “different” case and that each case has political parameters different from the others. But, in essence, these arguments are falsehoods created to mask the duplicity of cynical parties. Even Russia upholds the principle of the “square” wheel (equating the principle of territorial integrity with the right to self-determination).

Thus, since Armenia cannot recognize Karabagh’s independence and Russia does not wish to offend Azerbaijan, the issue remains at a stalemate.

Western countries are eager to preserve Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, albeit on false promises; additionally it is the Western powers’ declared policy to break up Iran and to attach its northern region to the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Time is against Armenia as Azerbaijan is being armed at a rapid pace and the partition of Iran looms on the horizon.

The Armenian Diaspora, with its limited resources, can make a difference and the case in point of Australia proves it. Indeed, heartening news came from Australia’s premiere province, New South

Wales, whose Parliament has just adopted a resolution recognizing the right of self-determination for the people of Karabagh. New South Wales is the largest province with a population of 7,273,000 out of Australia’s 21 million — one third of the country.

This move may not result in recognition by Australia’s federal government, but it is a significant first step. More than 40 states in the US have individually recognized the Armenian Genocide, which has not amounted yet to the recognition by the federal government.

It is believed that Uruguay may follow suit; it was one of the first countries to have recognized the Armenian Genocide.

Armenians settled in Australia beginning in the 19th century. The 60,000-strong Armenian community is mostly in Sidney (New South Wales) and Melbourne.

The recent tour of Armenia’s Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian in Central and South American countries may yield some political dividends, especially in generating some movement on the Karabagh issue.

It is an interesting coincidence that while the New South Wales parliament was voting to uphold Karabagh’s right to self-determination, the Baku government announced that it was recognizing Southern Sudan’s independence, thus placing on the back burner the principle of territorial integrity which constituted the center- piece of that country’s foreign policy.

Baku, citing this principle, had even refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence despite some prodding from Washington.

Victory in Australia may reflect only minor progress, but any pos- itive move by diaspora forces will complement and serve as an exten- sion of Armenia’s foreign policy.

Credit is due to the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Australia for pushing through the resolution in the New South Wales Parliament, as other Armenian political parties are either virtually nonexistent or are ineffective there.

Some people have given up hope that political activism would pay off, but Australia seems to disprove that pessimism. Also, the victory achieved in the French Parliament, through the cooperation of combined political forces, is another example that there is light at the end of the tunnel, although President Francois Hollande has to keep his pledge assuring the passage of the resolution criminalizing the denial of the Armenian Genocide in France.

ANCA remains the major force in the US, lobbying to influence legislation as the Armenian Assembly is bogged down in lawsuits with Gerard Cafesjian. They both seem to be determined to destroy all hopes of completing the Genocide Museum in Washington by the year 2015. This is a historic watershed when Armenians may be engaged in self-flagellation, while the Turks celebrate our failure.

Meanwhile, although we have scored a minor victory in Australia, its significance and impact is greater, as it places the Karabagh issue on the world political agenda.

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