Armenia Has to Rethink its Foreign Policy

“If Armenia recognizes Kosovo that will become another step against international law. But such a move would cause problems for Armenia and not for Azerbaijan.”
Araz Azimov,
Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan

The presidential elections in Armenia will hopefully change the economic and social fabric of Armenian Society, but most importantly the foreign policy of Armenia will undergo a major rethinking of stated goals, strategy and tactics.
What is of concern at this time in our history is the state and content of ongoing negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, that which is being done for the plight of our brethren in Javakhk and the efforts regarding the Armenian Genocide issue.
What is being done currently is defensive in nature and does not follow a bold vision of our goals and the strategy necessary to realize those goals. It seems that everything that is done is a reaction to events that are forced upon us. Proactive bold steps to create a new set of circumstances are seemingly non existent.
Armenia has been unable to break the embargo and the stranglehold imposed on it by Turkey and Azerbaijan. It has been unable to stop the oil pipeline from bypassing Armenia as well as the upcoming railway that will similarly bypass Armenian territory and further isolate Armenia politically as well as economically.
On the Nagorno-Karabakh question, an analysis of the various proposals that have been considered over the years reveals that they are all dangerously detrimental to Armenian interests. It seems that we have simply navigated from one unacceptable proposal to another without rethinking our strategy, perpetuating a negotiating process that is devoid of the basic principles that are acceptable to us and that in essence are half solutions and do not guarantee long-term security for the People of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Today the greatest danger facing Armenia is not the state of the economy in Armenia, it is not the fate of the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, it is not even who is to become the future president of Armenia. It is the danger of losing Nagorno-Karabakh, a land for which so many have sacrificed their lives.
At this time when we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Nagorno-Karabakh liberation movement, there could be a sudden unprovoked, unanticipated war forced upon us with some encouragement from Turkey; or for political expediency and to gain the good graces of oil producing Azerbaijan, or by being forced into an interim and unbearable compromise that future generations will live to regret. According to Canada Free Press, Azerbaijan and Armenia are preparing for a %u218second round’ which some predict will break out towards 2012, when Azerbaijan’s oil and gas production will peek. The reasons for our concern are very evident:
First, the current leaders in Azerbaijan are on a fast-track military buildup, hoping that oil revenues will permit them to outspend Armenia on military hardware. This is in violation of parity agreemen’s. It is a fact that energy-rich Azerbaijan can afford to spend four times as much on weapons, as Armenia.
Second, Turkey is prodding the Azeri appetite for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by military means, supplying Azerbaijan with military hardware and training.
Third, Azerbaijan is bidding its time in the negotiation process upping the ante as time goes by and becoming more intransigent as oil revenues increase.
Fourth, some in Armenia’see the Nagorno-Karabakh issue as a hindrance against development and would like the matter to go away.
Finally, the stance of the Armenian Government that is not proactive in the negotiations; it has entered into negotiations without insisting that authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh – that were original signatories to the cease fire – be part of the negotiations; and has entered into talks over territories to be ceded with no discussion of the territories occupied by Azerbaijan.

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With the declaration of independence by Kosovo on February 17, 2008, there is a rush to artificially differentiate the case for Nagorno-Karabakh from the Kosovo Case. Those who insist that recognition of Kosovar independence does not constitute any kind of precedent will have to demonstrate what makes Kosovo unique. The west claims that Kosovo is a special and unique case. There is no similarity between the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Kosovo on their historical-geographical and procedural mechanism.
Apparently the world is oblivious of the pogroms committed by Azerbaijan in Baku, and the indiscriminate bombardment of civilian targets in Nagorno-Karabakh, a crime against humanity that has not been internationally pursued by Armenian Authorities. This is evident in a preposterous observation made by Jose Ignacio Torreblanca, a specialist on the Kosovo problem who states that “Kosovo’s independence is precedent for those who committed ethnic cleansing and genocide or ignored the human rights. The main feature of Nagorno-Karabakh is that, Azerbaijan is not a side which pursued such policy. Azerbaijan is a victim of this policy”.
Azerbaijan knows very well that the precedent set by Kosovo could be detrimental to its pursued goals and fears a similar faith for Nagorno-Karabakh which leads Deputy foreign-Minister of Azerbaijan, Araz Azimov to declare: “If Armenia recognizes Kosovo that will become another step against international law. But such a move would cause problems for Armenia and not for Azerbaijan.”
Azimov has the temerity to admonish Armenia’s leadership to act within the boundaries of international norms. He was quoted as saying: “In order to resolve the conflict Armenia will have to take measures and realize that there is no alternative to peace with Azerbaijan and for that it must in the first place recognize its territorial integrity.”
Turkey was one of the first to recognize Kosovar independence hoping that international support for Kosovo might help mitigate the overwhelming international opposition to the partition of Cyprus. However Azerbaijan -fearing a situation in which Nagorno-Karabakh is permanently separated from Azerbaijan- declared its refusal to recognize Kosovar independence.
The U.S. Government is being accused rightfully of a double standard. While the U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro D. Wolff states “It is the consequences of the ethnic cleansing policies of Slobodan Milosevic and his government, which ensured that Kosovo will never again be ruled from Belgrade.” The U.S. Government is well aware of the ethnic cleansing that was perpetrated by Azerbaijan against Armenia’s in Baku and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The west is quick to disavow any connection between the case for Kosovo and that of Nagorno-Karabakh. The fact is that for the first time since the World War II ended in 1945, the borders of a sovereign state were unilaterally changed.
Even more surprising and ominous is Russia’s stance on the frozen conflicts within the former Soviet Union. Russian policymakers have hinted that their rhetoric vis-?-vis Georgia’s separatist republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as well as Moldova’s Transdnestr might change in the wake of Kosovo’s independence. They have, however, kept silent on Nagorno-Karabakh. Is this President Putin’s way of courting Azerbaijan? Clearly, Russia is guilty of the same double standard that the west is accused of.
While the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia Vartan Oskanian seems to be reluctant to take a position and fails to seize the moment, stating that “Armenia will express its position on the situation in Kosovo in the near future.” Tigran Torosyan, the president of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia’speaks in clearer terms: “It is possible to prove scientifically that the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh is indisputable.”
The Foreign Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgi Petrosian gives the following realistic assessment regarding the Kosovo model: “Recognition of Kosovo independence by the world community will become another factor strengthening the position of Nagorno-Karabakh in the settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan. He also added that %u218the approaches and decisions that proved effective in the settlement of a problem can be applied in settling another problem. Rejecting this would be equal to rejecting the nature of precedent and its role in the formation of international relations.”

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It is clear that history is evolving faster than our young fledgling country can master. Armenia’should be more assertive with its negotiating stance and should do so from a position of strength, especially in light of what is happening with Kosovo and in light of Azeri aggressive and intransigent declarations. Armenia and Armenia’s around the world can impose their will. Azerbaijan is as responsible as Armenia for peace and stability in the Caucasus and stands to lose much more if war breaks out. Armenian Authorities should cease the negotiation process until the following conditions are agreed upon:
First ‘s A non-aggression pact is signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as proposed by presidential candidate and Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau member Vahan Hovannesian.
Second ‘s all cease fire violations by Azerbaijan, its military buildup as well as its calls for a military solution to the conflict should cease.
Third ‘s the duly elected representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh should participate in the negotiations.
In the event that an agreement of these three conditions are not met, Armenia’should reevaluate its options and recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh at an opportune time of it own choosing.

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