By Garik Poghosyan
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
The dissolution of NKR was a major psychological blow to the Armenian people. The decree spelled the end of Armenian hopes pinned on a Russian peace-keeping force on the ground was a guarantor of the continuation of an Armenian Artsakh (the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh). Around a century ago, Diana Apcar, the honorary consul of the first Republic of Armenia to Japan, nicknamed “the stateless diplomat,” wrote a book, Armenia Betrayed in 1910 published by Yokohama: The Japan Gazette Press. The book described the Armenian massacres in Cilicia in 1909 and the helplessness of the civilian population vis-à-vis the great political game.
After more than a hundred years, the concept of betrayal seems to be haunting the nation both from within and externally. Much of what domestic political forces and factions have had to quarrel over since the end of the 2020 war in Artsakh has been about betrayal: who betrayed whom, how, when and why. Apparently, what Armenian politics is in dire need of are statesmen who can own up to their wrongdoings. The occasional admission of past mistakes on the part of the opposition seems to be procedural and merely spoken. Consequently, the absence of powerful and united opposition plays into the hands of the current government, which avoids any meaningful discussion of its dramatic trajectory despite the widespread public perception of having political prisoners, mounting foreign debt, a rising crime rate and rampant apathy.
In these circumstances, the fate of the people of the former de facto state of Nagorno-Karabakh is becoming increasingly vague. This article suggests that if the de facto state of Nagorno-Karabakh existed before (the infamous tripartite November 9, 2020 agreement between Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan that ended the 44-day war, ceded much of what remained under Armenian control to Azerbaijan, trusted the fate of Karabakh Armenians to the Russians and laid the groundwork for the eventual catastrophic exodus of the Armenians), then the recognition of the former NKR is still possible in a reverse order of state-building.
The formula is simple: if de facto states exist on the ground-physically and functionally but lack recognition, then a former de facto state can continue its legal existence through recognition and then claim ownership of the land that was occupied by a colonizing power, in this case, post-Soviet Azerbaijan nostalgic for Stalin’s territorial policies. Thus, the swap we suggest looks into the possibility of recognizing NKR first and then negotiating the territorial reemergence of the former de facto state. In other words, “first de facto, then de jure” is over and “first de jure, then de facto” begins its existence.