NAGORNO-KARABAKH – THE WINNER’S RESPONSIBILITY – THE WEEKLY 144
Unfortunately, we have no reason to be overly optimistic; the settlement of the Karabakh issue still seems far from a happy end.
Massive waves of the Armenian population have been fleeing from Karabakh, and the Azerbaijani authorities have been making vague and controversial statements about the area’s future.
It is a fact that Karabakh and the surrounding territories were occupied in violation of international law amidst the Soviet Union’s collapse, and the local Azeri population was driven away against all norms of humanity. Nagorno Karabakh’s Armenian authorities clearly had a responsibility in the destruction of villages and towns.
However, it does not provide any grounds for Azerbaijan to take revenge on Karabakh’s Armenian population now, thirty years later.
Responsibility clearly lies with the winner. Now we and the European Union must remind Baku that the restoration of territorial integrity and sovereignty does not grant an unlimited mandate. The norms of international law must still be respected under any circumstances.
We must make it clear that just as Azerbaijan has the right to its own territory, Karabakh Armenians also have the right to live in their homeland and preserve their linguistic and religious legacy.
Furthermore, Nagorno-Karabakh was already an autonomous republic within Azerbaijan during the Soviet times – although we do have our suspicions as to what such autonomy exactly meant back then; its symbolic value is nonetheless significant.
So, Azerbaijan is absolutely rightfully expected to guarantee the territorial autonomy and collective rights of Karabakh Armenians as well as to treat the area differently from its other territories. It is a key condition, not only for the survival of local Armenians but for the peace and stability of the Caucasus region, too.