Kosovo Ruling ‘New Political Situation,’ Says Karabakh President

President Bako Sahakian

STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)—Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian at a press conference Friday described last week’s ruling by the International Court of Justice on Kosovo’s independence as an “important event that creates a new political situation.”

Sahakian vowed that his administration will continue the pursuit of international recognition for the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

The Karabakh leader said that Armenia’s approach to the conflict resolution process is constructive and has been welcomed by the international community. On the other hand, he blamed Azerbaijan for taking “steps to derail the negotiation process.”

Sahakian said that official Stepanakert was doing its utmost to contribute to the OSCE Minsk-Group-led peace process, adding that the international body tasked with finding a final resolution to the conflict is not getting results because the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is not represented in the talks.

“The Co-Chairs have also come to understand that a resolution is impossible without the participation of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh,” said Sahakian.

Sahakian reiterated Karabakh’s long-standing position on the conflict by stressing that “the independence and security of the Nagrono-Karabakh Republic cannot become a bargaining chip.”

In discussing Armenia’s recognition of Karabakh’s independence, Sahakian explained that while the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was interested in Yerevan’s recognition, he could not ignore the fact that Armenia has a commitment to the international community.

“We believe that sooner or later we will approach [the launch of] a recognition process by Armenia,” added the Karabakh leader.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Ministry issued a statement Saturday reaffirming Sahakian’s position, which was also echoed in Armenia by government officials and political leaders.

“That decision has an extremely important legal, political and moral significance and sets a precedent that can not be confined to Kosovo,” the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Foreign Ministry statement said. It reemphasized that Karabakh’s population declared independence “in full compliance with the basic principles of international law” and is therefore also entitled to international recognition.

“Realizing their right to create an independent state, the people of Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh Republic] have been forced to endure military aggression launched by Azerbaijan, which has resulted in many human losses. Tens of thousands of people were displaced and became refugees. This reality has not yet been properly assessed by the international community,” said the Foreign Ministry statement.

“The people of Artsakh continue building a democratic state, turning it into a part of the regional security infrastructure of the South Caucasus,” added the statement.

“The right of the people of Artsakh to build their own state and determine their fate no doubt will be recognized by the international community, since it has been realized in accordance with the basic principles of international law,” concluded the statement.

The Motherland party, the Democratic Party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of Artsakh issued a similar statement Friday, highlighting that the December 10, 1991 referendum on the declaration of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s independence took place in accordance to principles of international law and requirement of Soviet legislation.

“During the course of the past 20 years, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic has been warding off military attacks by Azerbaijan, has achieved a ceasefire agreement and has established itself as a full-fledged democratic state. Our people aspire for the international recognition of Karabakh’s independence,” said the joint statement.

The three parties also voiced the Karabakh peoples’ commitment to resolve the conflict through peaceful negotiations and in accordance to international laws.

Armenia hailed the ICJ judgment shortly after its announcement on Thursday evening. Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian said the Hague-based court ruled that peoples’ self-determination should take precedence over territorial integrity of states in the resolution of territorial or ethnic disputes.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry insisted on Friday, however, that the ICJ ruling applies only to Kosovo and Serbia and cannot have any repercussions for the Karabakh conflict—a view essentially shared by the United States.

“Anyone who reads the ruling will see that this was a specific judgment based on facts unique to Kosovo,” U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Friday. “We certainly don’t think it applies to other circumstances.”

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