SOCHI, Russia (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian on Monday publicly criticized Central Asian states nominally allied to Armenia through a Russian-led defense pact for endorsing Azerbaijan’s position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Sarkisian appeared to point the finger at Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan during a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) held in the Russian Black Sea city of Sochi.
“In recent years there have been official documents, including at the presidential level, which at the behest of the Azerbaijani side selectively single out the principle of territorial integrity to the detriment of other principles,” he told the fellow heads of state from the two Central Asian states as well as Russia, Belarus and Tajikistan.
He argued that the United States, Russia and France — the three mediating powers — believe that the Karabakh conflict must be resolved also on the basis of the principles of people’s self-determination and non-use of force.
“Naturally, many countries have their own interests connected with Azerbaijan,” continued Sarkisian. “But we cannot agree when those relations lead to the adoption of documents directed against the interests of CSTO member states and the image of the organization as a whole.”
“This issue is especially pressing against the background of the Armenophobic rhetoric of Azerbaijan’s president and constant threats to use force against Nagorno-Karabakh’s civilian population,” he said in televised remarks.
As recently as on August 16, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev backed a Karabakh settlement “within Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders” in a joint declaration adopted at a summit of Turkic-speaking states in the Azerbaijani city of Gabala.
The two Central Asian states as well as Tajikistan previously signed even more pro-Azerbaijani statements by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The grouping of more than 50 predominantly Muslim states has repeatedly condemned Armenian “aggression” against Azerbaijan.
The foreign ministers of OIC member states issued one such declaration at a meeting held in New York in September 2012. The meeting chaired by Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov said the Karabakh dispute should be settled “on the basis of respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan.”
Armenian leaders protested against the CSTO member states’ endorsement of such statements even before the CSTO summit in Sochi. Sarkisian said on Monday that they are acting against “the spirit of decisions” made by the Russian-led military alliance. He cited a December 2012 declaration by the CSTO heads of state that backed application of the principles of both territorial integrity and self-determination to the unresolved conflict.