Self-Determination More Important than Borders, Says Goble

PARAGUE (RFE/RL)–The right to people’s self-determination far outweighs the concept of territorial integrity, said Paul Goble, director of research at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy in Baku, in an exclusive interview with Radio Liberty Thursday.

Goble, who in the 1990s authored the notorious Karabakh peace plan that entailed the exchange of Armenia’s southern region of Zangezour with Azebaijan for the Lachin (Kashatagh) corridor, also opined that the OSCE Minks Group was doomed from the beginning and urged the negotiations over the Karabakh conflict to take place between two parties.

“I find people’s rights more important than boundaries drawn on a map. The right to self-determination of peoples is far more important. I believe in that,” said the former CIA analyst and current Azeri operative, urging the US to stop guaranteeing what he called the “Stalin’s policies.”

Goble said, US foreign policy has ignored this aspect for 17 years and now “we are faced with a very difficult issue.”

The “father” of the Soviet Union, in delineating the borders was attempting to keep the fire of ethnic conflicts burning, with the assumption that for securing Moscow’s support the minorities would be forced to adhered to centrally dictated policies, said Goble.

“The frozen conflicts of the South Caucasus are Stalin’s poison pills,” Goble went on to say, adding the inclusion of mainly Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan was one of the most famous examples of that policy.

He explained that with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US opted to recognize the borders of the republics, which were not assigned to determine national homogony but were drawn to continuously fuel ethnic tensions, without taking into consideration that these borders were drawn at Stalin’s pleasure.

“The events in Georgia are only the latest example of what happens because governmen’s and peoples in the region continue to be forced 17 years after the end of the Soviet Union to swallow Stalin’s poison pill. These events will not be the last. And the ones ahead, including more ethnic conflicts and more authoritarianism will not only be more serious but will affect the Russian Federation first of all,” wrote Goble in a recent opinion piece in The Moscow Times.

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