The Armenian Ministry of Defense Press Office last week interviewed the Ministry’s Head of National Strategic Studies Doctor Major-General Hayk S. Kotanjian, who provided the press office with an in-depth analysis of recent adoption by the UN General Assembly of an Azeri drafted resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh. In his interview, Kotanjian, who holds a PhD in Political Science, explains Azerbaijan’s motives behind introducing the resolution and outlines the wider implications of such a maneuver.
Below is the text of the interview:
Press Office: What are the objectives pursued in the statement by the Deputy Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan claiming that "the status of Nagorno-Karabakh is not a target of the OSCE Minsk Group and a topic of discussion with Armenia"?
Hayk Kotanjian: The Baku authorities undertook to address a task that is quite obviously beyond their sole competence. The Azerbaijani authorities are trying to persuade the international community that the application of common principle of respect towards the Armenia’s of Karabakh based on the human rights and freedoms registered in the UN Charter as a universal norm is purely their own internal business.
They aim at disavowing the OSCE Minsk Group and removing Russia, the US and France from the group in connection with their systemic approaches to the application of the norms and principles of International law on the Karabakh Problem resolution.
P.O.: What is the underlying purpose of such a position?
H.K.: The Baku politicians are trying to impose their own opportunistic-local interpretation of the International law concerning the settlement and resolution of the Karabakh Problem and they are doing it with presumption of "lawmakers and indisputable interpreters" of international law not only domestically but also before the international community.
The statemen’s of both the Azeri President and officials in the Azeri Foreign ministry conform to only one of the common norms of the International law, namely, the principle of territorial integrity. They all ignore the other norms applied when dealing with problems such as Karabakh. In this context, it is the ignorance of the principle of peoples’ equality and their right to self-determination. This unilateral approach by Baku cannot be of serious influence upon the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs’ expert position.
P.O.: Let’s go back to the legal aspect of the problem and look at what the commitmen’s of each state is. Azerbaijan, for example, what are Azerbaijan’s commitmen’s within the framework of International law and in the system of the national law?
H.K.: The Azerbaijani official establishment announces that "the Karabakh status problem can be resolved only with internal legislation in Azerbaijan" and the activities of the Minsk Group, in consultations with the conflicting sides, are allegedly an intrusion into the domestic affairs of Azerbaijan.
A symptomatic illustration appears to be the incompatibility of the Republic of Azerbaijan’s Constitution with the essence of international legal norms on the principle and right of nations to master their fate independently by means of free expression of popular will in conditions of complete freedom, stipulated by the UN Charter and International Covenants on Human Rights of 1966.
As it is known, these documen’s in the international arena are treaties consolidating the states’ commitment to adhere to and respect universally recognized fundamental principles and norms of International law, first and foremost–human rights and freedoms. It concerns those principles of the International law, which comprise its most stable kernel and are a universal criterion to evaluate legitimacy of states’ conduct.
P.O.: Applying the legitimacy criteria that is accepted in the international community, how would you evaluate the conformity of Azerbaijan’s conduct with its international commitmen’s concerning the Karabakh settlement?
H.K.: The clause in Azerbaijan’s Constitution "on change of territory by holding a referendum among all the Azerbaijani population" contradicts another principle in the same document, namely, "the ultimate goal of the state". In accordance with the given definition "human and citizen rights and freedoms, enumerated in the present Constitution are employed in conformity with the international treaties, which are supported by the Republic of Azerbaijan". In this case the above mentioned international treaties should be touched upon.
Thus the assertions of the Azerbaijani authorities on their adherence to the international law in the Karabakh conflict resolution don’t correspond to reality. The conduct of Azerbaijan in terms of consistent reflection of universally accepted principles and norms of the International law in the Constitution, as well as in the Karabakh conflict settlement practice, doesn’t correspond to the international legitimacy criterion.
P.O.: What is your take on the position of the Minsk Group, which voted against the UN Resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh proposed by Azerbaijan?
H.K.: Judging from the official statemen’s made by Russia, the USA and France before and afterwards of the General Assembly, they voted against the resolution, because the Azerbaijan’s project contradicted, firstly, the common fundamental principles and norms of the International law, as well as the criterion of the international legitimacy of their application.
Secondly, the conduct of Azerbaijan does not coincide with the balanced approach of the Minsk Group which endorses the solution of the Karabakh conflict within the system of the International relations. 100 members of the UN abstained from the vote and virtually demonstrated their understanding of the balanced position of Russia, the USA and France.
P.O.: How would you explain the driving force of those 39 members of the UN, which voted for the resolution?
H.K.: The mentioned states, mainly representing the Organization of Islamic Conference and GUAM, backed Azerbaijan’s initiative from the position, which was more characteristic to the period of the Cold War, i.e. on the principle of bloc solidarity.
P.O.: Due to the results of the voting, Azerbaijan threatens to review her policy on Russia, the USA and France. How can we elaborate the disrespectful position of Azerbaijan to the contribution of the Minsk Group in the process of the peaceful solution and the ferociousness of Baku vis-a-vis Russia, France and the USA?
H.K.: Azerbaijan perceives its role in European Energy policy as a "historical" mission of geoeconomic and geostrategic importance to compete with Russia. Playing on the strategic interests of the EU, the USA, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Central Asia, Baku is trying to at most bid for the highest stakes and in this way to use their resources to illegally force its interests in the Karabakh settlement.
Azerbaijan will allow itself to blackmail Russia, the USA, France and the Minsk Group as it seeks to pursue these goals. According to many international observers Azerbaijan is losing its sense of reality.