BRUSSELS (RFE/RL)–The United States, Russia and France will likely vote against a resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which Azerbaijan is trying to push through the UN General Assembly, a Brussels-based pro-Armenian organization said on Wednesday.
The non-governmental group, European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA), said the draft resolution could derail a peaceful Karabakh settlement and urged all European Union member states to join the three mediating powers in opposing it.
The document, which the General Assembly is due to consider next week, upholds Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the unresolved dispute and the right of Azerbaijanis “expelled” from Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it to return to their homes.
President Serzh Sarkisian said on Sunday that its approval by the assembly would be a “serious blunder” by Azerbaijan. The Armenian Foreign Ministry similarly warned last week that the resolution would cause “serious damage” to Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by Washington, Moscow and Paris.
“The Azerbaijani draft resolution to be discussed at the UN General Assembly on Thursday, September 9, is expected to be voted against by the three Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group, France, Russia and the USA,” EuFoA said in a statement. “But according to EuFoA’s sources, a common response by all EU countries is not yet clear, despite the longstanding and clear EU support for the Minsk Group.”
“The UN is not the right level to discuss this question because there is only one international mandate to resolve this issue and it lies with the OSCE Minsk Group,” the EuFoA secretary general, Michael Kambeck, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
“This process has been going on for a long time,” he said. “It is very delicate, it is full of specific sensitivities, and the OSCE Minsk Group is doing a good job. I think we should first let them finish their job.”
“If Azerbaijan really thinks that this has come to a total end, then they should stop the negotiations and cancel everything. But they are not doing that,” added Kambeck.
The three nations co-chairing the Minsk Group made similar arguments when they voted against a similar non-binding resolution adopted by the UN assembly in March 2008. It was backed by 39 mainly Islamic states.
EuFoA statement warned that by capitalizing on Muslim support for its cause Azerbaijan risks adding a “religious component” to the Karabakh conflict. “This conflict has never been about religion, about Islam versus Christianity,” argued Kambeck. “This is an ethnic conflict, and if now we start adding a religious component to it, it will become even more difficult to resolve the whole conflict.”
Kambeck said the draft resolution is “dangerous” also because it overlooks other principles of international law that are at the heart of the mediators’ existing peace proposals. “This resolution is very single-sided,” he said. “You basically have only two options, as an international body. You either rewrite it completely, or you reject it, if you want to make it a balanced text.”
EuFoA was set up in early 2009 by European parliamentarians and intellectuals to promote Armenia’s integration into European political and economic structures.