General Hayk Kotanjian, left, and Dr. Arthur Atanesyan

Karabakh Armenians Are Facing Direct Threat of Genocide: An Appeal to Presidents of Russia, USA, and France

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By Dr. Hayk Kotanjian and Dr. Arthur Atanesyan

Your Excellences, Presidents of the Russian Federation, the US, and France!

In the holy period between the Catholic-Protestant and Apostolic-Orthodox celebration of Christmas, we have the honor to apply to you on behalf of the expert community of the first Christian nation of the world-the Armenian people.

The Azerbaijani-Turkish military aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh in September-November 2020 violated International Laws on the prohibition of force and the threat of force  ended with a tripartite statement with the participation of leaders of the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, and Armenia on November 9, 2020. The Statement proclaims peace and cooperation in the region but does not contribute to the resolution of the Karabakh conflict, and launched the beginning of another stage of the deportation of Armenians from the territory of their autochthonous residence in Karabakh. To those Armenians who survived in Karabakh (Artsakh) after the war, the authoritarian leadership of Azerbaijan is applying medieval methods of intimidation, public violence, desecration of historical and religious places, and demonstration of corpses of raped and dismembered people.

The Lachin corridor which is the only way connecting Karabakh with Armenia has been blocked by the Azerbaijani forces in December, right before Christmas, depriving about 120 thousand Armenian civilians, including 30 thousand children, of food, warmth, and safety in the winter season. This Azerbaijani policy aims to deport Armenians from Karabakh and is being implemented in traditions of the Genocide of Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians in the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey allying to Azerbaijan in terms of “One nation, two states” geopolitical project.

A post-Soviet state with a tough authoritarian regime ruled by Heydar Aliyev the father and then transferred to his son, Ilham, with enforced militaristic resource and rhetoric, as well as endless territorial claims to neighbors, Azerbaijan is constantly threatening the security of Armenia as the first Christian nation and as a post -Soviet democracy.

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The historical persecution of the Armenian people because of their unique role and mission to become Christians in the non-Christian region, today continues in connection with the expansion of the regional role of Turkey as its return to the orbit of the ambitions of the Ottoman Empire; Azerbaijan plays a key role in this project.

After the Azerbaijani-Turkish war against the lawfully self-determined Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) in the fall of 2020, and then the massive attacks in September 2022 with the occupation of the border territories of Armenia by the Azerbaijani armed forces, Armenia does not show the ability to effectively and fully protect the interests of its people in Nagorno-Karabakh, while Azerbaijan proposes a “solution” of the Karabakh conflict which is typical for non-democracies, with no reference to human rights and freedoms. By blocking the Lachin corridor and making Armenians suffer from hunger and cold, Azerbaijan is going to solve the Karabakh conflict within the formula ”No Armenians, no problem”. Accordingly, the rightful solution of the Karabakh conflict cannot and should not be the subject of an agreement only between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The conflict itself and the post-war settlement are structural elements of the wider regional security system and stability in Eurasia, directly affecting the interests of the Russian Federation, the United States, and the European Union, and are to continue being a topic of negotiations between these international actors involved into the Co-chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group. Accordingly, the future relationships between Armenia and Azerbaijan with the priority on the rights of the people living in the conflict zone and continuously threatened by Azerbaijan, are to be a subject of International Law.

We consider it our professional and civic debt to urge the resumption of negotiations among the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs as the most appropriate platform for the search for effective ways to resolve the Karabakh conflict through joint efforts through the harmonization of the interests of national, regional, and global security priorities based on the norms of International Law. Attempts by Azerbaijan to exclude the Karabakh conflict resolution from the OSCE Minsk Group agenda through discrediting the OSCE and its previous efforts, unleashed Azerbaijani authorities’ new war and aggression against Artsakh and Armenia, resulting in thousands of deaths, and the deportation of the Karabakh Armenians from the territories of their original residence.

The constructive search for solutions over the Karabakh conflict as part of the strategic dialogue between the collective West and Russia on the platform of the OSCE Minsk Group from 1997-2018 is highly needed today.  Throughout its post-Soviet independence, Armenia has always tried to serve as a unique platform for strategic dialogue between Russia and the collective West (including the EU and the USA). The resumption of the consensus dialog between the United States, the EU, the Russian Federation on the regional security, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement with priority of human rights, is necessary without linking the decisions on Karabakh to the current misunderstanding between the leading powers over Ukraine. Armenian civilians of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) locked by Azerbaijan blockading the Lachin corridor, should not become hostages of other regional conflicts, including the Ukrainian one.

Besides the OSCE Minsk Group platform, any other format bridging the interests of Russia, the United States, and the European Union in the global and civilizational context must be applied to the ongoing conflicts threatening international order, including the Karabakh and the Ukrainian ones. Among the platforms demonstrated their effectiveness along with political decision-making, is a dialogue of religious leaders aimed at peaceful settlement of conflicts, where the Armenian Apostolic Church has played its visible role.

The dialogue based on confidence, trust, human rights and civilizational priorities, is extremely demanded not only on the Karabakh issue, but also as an effective approach to solving other regional conflicts that threaten global security, including the one around Ukraine. This dialogue is able to help prevent the sliding of the international security system toward global disaster.

(Professor. Dr. Hayk Kotanjian, Honorary President of Political Science Association of Armenia, Alumnus, former Distinguished Visiting Faculty, NDU, former Visiting Research Fellow, Harvard JFK School of Government. Dr. Arthur Atanesyan, Professor of Political Science, President of the Political Science Association of Armenia.)

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