ETHNIC CONFLICTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE CAUCASUS
(STUDY-CASE OF THE CONFLICT IN NAGORNY KARABAKH)
Ramiz Sevdimaliev, Learned Secretary, Human Rights Institute, National Academy of Sciences (Baku, Azerbaijan)
There are three sources of worldwide concern in Eurasia: the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, each having specifics of its own. There are many things in common, too: disintegration of the socialist system and setting up of new independent states; stronger influence of foreign geopolitical forces seeking energy fuels and geostrategic advantages. All of them have certain roles to play in worldwide political and economic processes; all are looking for new civilizational models of their newly found statehoods, the quest being accompanied by bloody ethnic and ethnopolitical conflicts.
The Caucasus stands apart. It is one of the most troubled places in the post-Soviet southern fringe and the world as a whole. It boasts of huge potentials of natural resources and a vast human market. The Southern Caucasus, the home of three independent states (Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia) forms a strategic link between Russia, Turkey, and Iran. It is the place where the North-South and the East-West axes cross and where interests of many countries clash. Russia describes it as a “zone of its foreign political priorities,” Iran refers to it as a “zone of state security,” while the United States and its partners, as a “zone of national security.” The region is a key to a restored transcontinental route known as the Great Silk Road that connected, in the past, the Far East, Central Asia, Europe and the Near East. Large oil and gas pipelines will cross the Caucasus to bring Caspian energy resources to the world market.
Today, the Caucasus remains a scene of political and military conflicts. What is more, new hot spots cannot be totally excluded. Territorial and ethnopolitical conflicts in Nagorny Karabakh, South and North Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Chechnia have been going on there since the late eighties. Each of them has produced millions of personal tragedies, refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Each has already cost tens of thousands of lives.
The Abkhazian, Ossetian and Chechen events are domestic conflicts. The Karabakh conflict, on the contrary, belongs to a different category. It is a conflict between states and is known as an “Armenian-Azerbaijanian Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”1 The conflict started with deportation of Azeris from their historical homeland which now belongs to the Republic of Armenia. The republic launched an armed aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan to obtain more territories.
It should be noted that the aggression against Azerbaijan started with anti-constitutional acts of separatists in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan encouraged by decisions of the Armenian authorities that contradicted international laws. For example, there was a decision of the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian S.S.R. of 1 December, 1989 On Reuniting the Armenian S.S.R. and Nagorny Karabakh, and the declaration of Armenian sovereignty of 23 August, 1990 according to which part of the territory of another state was described as “an inalienable part of the Republic of Armenia.” These parliamentary decisions were realized by the Armenian army, a large number of mercenaries, and stepped-up terrorist activities of the Armenian special services and Armenian terrorist organizations against the Republic of Azerbaijan designed to detach part of its historical territories. Armenia started full-scale military activities late in 1991 and early 1992. Since May 1992, military actions went beyond the former autonomous region to engulf other areas of Azerbaijan.2
In 1994, the sides signed a cease-fire protocol in Bishkek mediated by Russia.
Mass Violations of Human Rights
Armed aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan caused numerous flagrant violations of human rights that can be classed as crimes against humanity. Armenia has occupied about 20 percent of the Azerbaijanian territory—not only Nagorny Karabakh but also other territories four times larger than the contested autonomous region. Aggression and ethnic purges in Armenia and on the occupied territories drove away and displaced over one million, hundreds of historical monuments ceased to exist, Azerbaijanian graves and mosques were desecrated and destroyed; over 900 settlements and houses of common people (the total area of over 9 million sq m) were plundered; state enterprises and social objects were ruined.3
The Armenian armed forces supported by mercenaries and terrorist groups murdered over 20,000 and wounded and crippled over 50,000.4 Several thousand people are missing, civilians were executed without trial and killed en masse; prisoners and hostages were taken to be used as slaves. They suffered of inhuman treatment, they were beaten, tortured and subjected to other forms of flagrant violation of human rights; the wounded and ill were denied elementary medical attention. Today, Armenia is keeping the International Committee of the Red Cross in ignorance of the majority of POWs and hostages. They are counted as missing.
On the night of 26 February, 1992 hundreds of innocent people of the city of Hojaly in Nagorny Karabakh were brutally exterminated: 613 were dead (106 women and 83 children), 487 were crippled; 1,275 were taken prisoner, 150 are still missing. Awful results of an awful night.5 The city was razed to the ground.
The crimes against humanity went on and on in occupied Nagorny Karabakh and territories outside it: thousands of peaceful people in the Lachin, Kelbajar, Agdam, Fizuli, Jebrail, Zangelan and Kubatli districts of Azerbaijan became victims of mass-scale terror.
According to law hostages and POWs belong to the categories protected by international humanitarian law which bans repressions against them and requires their security. Regrettably, according to the State Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for POWs, Hostages and Missing Persons there are numerous facts of inhuman treatment and violence, physical suffering, murders, deliberate crippling, medical experiments and tortures applied to civilians and prisoners of war. A greater part of hostages and POWs die violent deaths or because of unbearable conditions in which they are kept. Those who come back are crippled for life.6
Today, Azerbaijan is facing a hard humanitarian situation: every year hundreds of old people, women and children driven from their homes by Armenian aggressors die in refugee camps because of epidemics. Tent settlements are home to a new generation that is expected to organize our country in future. One is tempted to ask: Will those raised in inhuman conditions and deprived of adequate education, homes, and property do creative work and be of any use to society? Their minds are distorted by the so-called “tent-settlement psychology.” Nobody knows whether they will be able to adjust to cities and other settlements where they might go in search of a better life. This cannot but cause concern and anxiety.
Employment for refugees and forced migrants is another problem that has not yet been settled despite the government’s efforts. Sooner or later, the occupied territories will be liberated and people will go home. Their continued idleness and reliance on international and state organizations and NGOs for humanitarian aid breed in them psychology of dependents. It seems that they will be unable to take socially useful jobs when they come home.
There is another acute problem: the relations between the displaced persons and local people in large and small cities where they are temporarily living. In Baku, Sumgait and other cities the displaced persons sometimes capture flats of local people. They aggravate the already tense social situation, make unemployment even worse, economy burdened by all sorts of subsidies cannot develop, etc. Local people look at them as rivals. They violate the rights of the locals and cause a new wave of violations of human rights in places where they are temporarily settled.
Ethnic Purges and Territorial Claims—Two Main Threats to Regional Security
Those who think that the Karabakh conflict dates back to 1988 are wrong. I think that it is rooted in the Giulistan and Turkmanchai peace treaties of 1813 and 1828 which proved to be a “delay-fuzed bomb.” This and other conflicts are caused by the military, geopolitical, and geostrategic rivalry of certain states. The treaties divided the Azeris and their historical lands. They placed the “Armenian question” on the political agenda and altered the demographic situation in the Southern Caucasus. It was at that time that Armenians came in great numbers to Southern Caucasus; supported by czarist Russia they started to subjugate the autochthonous Azerbaijanian population.
It was late in November 1988 that Armenia launched ethnic purges: Azeris and the traces of their presence were removed from the republic with tragic results: the last of 250 thousand Azeris were deported from their historical lands in Armenia with full approval and support of Armenian officials. Mass eviction was accompanied by murders, tortures, deliberate crippling, etc.
It should be added that on the road toward a mono-ethnic state Armenians distorted and falsified historical facts and altered Azerbaijanian geographic names. To mislead the world public and the future generations and to erase from history the very fact that Azeris used to live in what today is Armenia throughout the twentieth century Armenians renamed thousands of settlements with Azerbaijanian names to be able to remove them from geographical maps.
According to preliminary calculations, in the twentieth century over two million Azeris fell victim to ethnic purges, were either murdered or driven from their historical homeland. In fact, all the tragedies the Azeris lived through in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were accompanied by seizure of their lands; each of the tragedies being but another stage in deliberate and consistent genocide pursued by Armenians.
Everything that the Armenians did to the Azeris in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can be described as genocide7 and crimes against humanity according to international documents and the principles of international law.
Position of International Organizations
Contrary to international legal norms Armenian officials and politicians refer to Art 1.2 of the U.N. Charter to describe armed aggression against Azerbaijan as “the national-liberation movement of the people of Nagorny Karabakh for its right to self-determination and national independence.” By “the people of Nagorny Karabakh” they mean the ethnic Armenians who live in the autonomous region which is part of Azerbaijan. One should bear in mind in this connection that, first, before the conflict and deportation there were over 50 thousand ethnic Azeris living there and about 70 thousand Armenians. The latter cannot be called “the people of Nagorny Karabakh” from the point of view of international law: they are the Armenians living in the autonomous region or an ethnic minority in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Second, the Armenian nation has used its right to self-determination within the Republic of Armenia. Third, the right to self-determination belongs to the entire population of any territory, not to one of its parts. Fourth, the right of nations to self-determination and respect of it should not be interpreted as a permission for or encouragement of any actions that either cripple or violate, completely or partly, territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent states. Fifth, by virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the entire people always has the right of choice. It is carried out by a legitimate government that expresses the interests of all those living on the territory without any discrimination.8 Finally, the principle of self-determination does not encourage the right to cessation as leading to division of territory and violating the state’s territorial integrity. According to the international documents, when realized the right to self-determination demands that all other fundamental international legal principles be observed. This is especially true of the principle of territorial integrity. All these principles are of equal value and are interconnected.9
It should be noted that in its resolutions adopted in 1993 (No. 822 of 30 April, No. 853 of 29 July, No. 874 of 14 October and 884 of 11 November) the U.N. Security Council condemned violence against peaceful population and occupation of Azerbaijanian territories. It also confirmed the principle of inviolability of frontiers and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The U.N. SC pointed out that the use of force for territorial acquisitions could not be accepted and demanded that military actions and hostile acts be stopped immediately. It also demanded that the occupation forces be withdrawn, immediately, completely, and unconditionally, from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. In violation of Art 25 of the U.N. Charter and international laws, and in disregard of the demands of the U.N. SC Armenia still remains on the occupied territories and is piling up its military presence there.
It should be noted that according to the U.N. Charter: “A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council” (Art 6). Art 40 of the U.N. Charter says: “In order to prevent an aggravation of the situation, the Security Council may... call upon the parties concerned to comply with such provisional measures as it deems necessary or desirable... The Security Council shall duly take account of failure to comply with such provisional measures.” One is tempted to ask: What does it mean “duly take account”? Arts 41 and 42 provide the answer. Such measures include, first and foremost, severing economic and diplomatic relations: “These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations” (Art 41). The Charter says in Art 42: “Should the Security Council consider that [such] measures... would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate,” it may resort to stricter measures. “...it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.”
Regrettably the U.N. has not yet taken any measures in relation to the aggressor despite the fact that Armenia ignored and is ignoring the U.N. Charter and decisions of the U.N. SC. What is more, despite a clear and obviously aggressive nature of the events in Nagorny Karabakh the U.N. has not yet recognized Armenia as an aggressor state.
In March 1992, an OSCE Minsk Group was set up to settle the Karabakh conflict. The United Nations referred the problem to its competence. The Budapest OSCE summit of 1994, the Lisbon summit of 1996 and the Istanbul summit of 1999 discussed how to settle the conflict by political means.
Throughout the period of its activity the Minsk Group put forward three suggestions one after another.10 The first of them, an All-round Agreement on Settling the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict (better known as a package solution), was put forward in July 1997 and consisted of two agreements.11 One of them was designed to stop the armed conflict, the other, to give Karabakh a definite status. According to it Azerbaijan and Armenia had to accept territorial integrity of each other while Nagorny Karabakh was declared a territorial and state entity within Azerbaijan. This suggestion was not free of definite shortcomings. First, it was not based on the U.N. SC resolutions enumerated above and, therefore, was not legally binding. Second, it failed to indicate how the conflict could be discontinued and within which period of time—the process could have been prolonged indefinitely. Third, the proposed status contradicted the Azerbaijan’s territorial and state structure. Nagorny Karabakh was expected to have its own state symbol, anthem, and flag, a constitution adopted by a referendum, a national guard and the police, become a free economic zone, have a right to enter into relations with other countries and to open its own representatives abroad—all this within the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Its laws would have been valid in Nagorny Karabakh if not contradicting the local laws; the republic’s law enforcement bodies would not have been able to operate in Nagorny Karabakh if not invited by the local authorities.
The second suggestion that came from the OSCE Minsk Group, an Agreement on Stopping the Nagorno-Karabakh Armed Conflict (known as a step-by-step variant), was submitted in December 1997.12 It was expected to be realized in two stages. The first stage envisaged certain military technical measures: liberation of the Agdam, Zangelan, Fizuli, Jebrail, Kelbajar, and Gubadlin districts; removal of the Armenian armed forces within the Armenian borders and the so-called Army of Nagorny Karabakh, to the territory of the former autonomous region; stationing of peacekeeping OSCE forces in the so-called separation zone, that is, in the Azerbaijanian areas adjacent to Nagorny Karabakh (with the exception of Lachin); return of all forced migrants from the above districts to their homes and normalization of communication means in the conflict zone. At the second stage the OSCE Minsk Conference was expected to identify, on the one hand, the status of Nagorny Karabakh within the Republic of Azerbaijan. On the other, the conference had to sort out the situation around the Lachin, Shusha and former Shaumian districts. It was also planned to outline a mechanism and time schedule for each of the above measures and sanctions applied to the side failing to observe these principles.
The step-by-step variant looked more acceptable than the other suggestions, yet it was not free of fundamental shortcomings, either. First, it failed to envisage mutual obligations to accept the principle of territorial integrity of both sides. Second, the document failed to specify how the migrants from the Lachin District and the autonomous region could come back. Third, peace and security in the former autonomous region were to be entrusted to the “Karabakh law enforcement bodies.” Fourth, the text suggested that the agreement be signed by three, rather than two, sides, the third being the so-called Republic of Nagorny Karabakh as a side in the conflict.
The third suggestion presented in November 1998 was called the Common State, it was also of a package nature. Under it Nagorny Karabakh, first, remained outside Azerbaijan. Instead, it and Azerbaijan were expected to form a “common state” with no precedence in international practice: the partners were to mutually delegate their powers, open missions, etc. Second, Armenian was expected to be the state tongue of Nagorny Karabakh, Azerbaijanian being “the second tongue.” Third, Nagorny Karabakh acquired all the rights to the attributes of an independent state.
Two independent states on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan and Nagorny Karabakh to which the former had no right) violated the Republic of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. This also violated all relevant international legal norms. Obviously, the Azerbaijanian side could not agree and had no moral right to discuss it. This was interpreted as a provocation of the OSCE Minsk Group against Azerbaijan.
The 1975 Final Act (Point IV. Territorial Integrity of States) said: “The participating States will respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating States.
“Accordingly, they will refrain from any action inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United States against the territorial integrity, political independence or the unity of any participating State, and in particular from any such action constituting a threat or use of force.” Further the document said: “The participating States will likewise refrain from making each other’s territory the object of military occupation or other direct or indirect measures of force in contravention of international law, or the object of acquisition by means of such measures or the threat of them.” Armenia has flagrantly violated and continues to violate these and other principles of international law. In so doing, it challenges not only Azerbaijan but also the entire international community, including the U.N., OSCE, and other organizations. In this connection the OSCE stated in the Final Act (IV): “No such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal,” cannot but cause regret and bewilderment when, instead of insisting that Erevan should observe the international legal norms and liberate the occupied territories, it put forward three capitulatory variants and demonstrated lack of respect for its own principles.
In January 2001, an event with no precedence in international practice took place: the members of the Council of Europe admitted Armenia, an aggressor state, into their organization. By that time Armenia had occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijanian territory and was insisting on its policy of state terrorism. The Republic of Azerbaijan, the victim of Armenian aggression, was admitted into the Council of Europe together with the aggressor which made this more puzzling.
One is tempted to ask: Was Armenia rewarded for having made the human rights one of its priorities? M. Danielian, Chairman of the Helsinki Association of Armenia and prominent human rights activist, has made a special statement to the effect that his country was not ready to join the Council of Europe: “If units of the national army of Armenia are stationed on and, therefore, control the territory of another state this is called occupation. There is no other word for this. As a citizen of Armenia I believe this is my duty to say this.”13 When analyzing the situation in the field of human rights in Armenia Danielian has said: “Look into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All 30 articles are violated in Armenia... The main thing is that constitution is impotent in Armenia. It cannot be applied because the president of Armenia, the guarantor of the constitution, is not legitimate. In the last ten years when he was ‘appointed’ president he was not an Armenian citizen. The judicial system in Armenia is corrupted from top to bottom. Police arbitrariness has reached unprecedented proportions. The future of the detained are sealed during preliminary detention, they are doomed before reaching courts. Nearly all of the detained are subjected to psychological and physical pressure. The army is a very said case indeed. It seems that the human rights situation in the institution is identical in all former Soviet republics—arbitrariness and death. Everything that is connected with the army is protected by the most scary concept—the state secret.”14
Everybody can see that the Council of Europe, the U.N. and OSCE do not follow their own principles declared by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. They cannot always insist that their members observe international laws, sometimes the mechanisms of realization of the proclaimed principles do not correspond to contemporary conditions.
Despite all this Azerbaijan is favoring a peaceful settlement of the conflict with active participation of international organizations and the OSCE Minsk Group.15
Security and Cooperation
Today, the still smoldering conflicts that have already violated rights of millions of people are the worst threat to the region’s security. The conflict in Nagorny Karabakh is the worst case of human rights violation in the Caucasus. Political scientists are convinced that if it remains unsettled other ethnic conflicts in the Southern Caucasus will also remain burning thus threatening peace and security in the strategically important region.
We all should realize that the present security systems and the military-political alliances that have taken decades to take shape are influencing, in one way or another, the Caucasus as a whole and Azerbaijan in particular. It should be noted that while the Soviet Union was alive it entered into several agreements with the United States on limitation and non-proliferation of nuclear and strategic arms, on anti-ballistic missile defense, etc. The anti-ballistic missile defense is subject to the 1973 treaty between the U.S.S.R. (and the Russian Federation as its legal successor) and the U.S. and the START-1 treaty of 31 July, 1991. On 19 November, 1990 NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization signed in Paris a Treaty on the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (the CFE Treaty) under which the sides agreed to cut down dramatically offensive conventional armaments and the level of confrontation between the two military-political blocs.
In the early nineties, the Soviet republics acquired independence, and the Warsaw Treaty Organization as a military-political alliance of the socialist countries fell apart. Some of its former members have already joined NATO which means that each of them has experienced serious qualitative changes that, in their turn, caused certain quantitative and qualitative changes in the opposite side. For this reason, the limitations envisaged by the above-mentioned documents (the CFE Treaty in particular) no longer ensure security in the Southern Caucasus. In fact, under these agreements the independent states in the region remain part of Russia’s responsibility zone. What is more, within the CFE Treaty these and certain other elements can be temporarily stationed there. This does not meet the national interests of certain states, Azerbaijan and Georgia in particular. This treaty does not allow to regulate local ethnic conflicts, the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh in the first place. In fact, the CFE Treaty cannot protect the Southern Caucasus.16
Today, another military-political alliance has come to the scene—the CIS Collective Security Treaty. As distinct from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have preferred to remain outside it, therefore it obviously cannot ensure the region’s security.
Obviously, the current security systems do not embrace the Southern Caucasus and do not meet the national interests of, at least, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
It should be added that driven by its foreign political priorities Russia is willing to preserve its military presence in the Southern Caucasus. It signed a Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance with Armenia under which the sides are considered to be strategic partners and have to act together in case of a military aggression by a third country. Today, over 20 thousand Russian military and a joint air defense system armed with S-200 missiles are stationed in the military bases in Giumri (former Leninakan) and Erevan. Joint security forces are being formed.17
In 1994-1996, Russia illegally supplied Armenia with armaments and materiel to the total amount of over $1 billion. They were delivered along the Volga and across the Caspian and Iran. At first Russian officials denied the fact, yet there is information about criminal charges brought by the RF Military Prosecutor Office against those responsible. Personally, I am convinced that the weapons and materiel were to be used against Azerbaijan either as an instrument of pressure at talks or as military equipment against civilians if the war resumed.
On the other hand, there is information that Armenia signed agreements on military cooperation with certain radical Middle Eastern regimes (Syria and Lebanon, in the first place) based on their common distrust of Turkey.
There are analysts who believe that Russia’s military presence in Armenia and the building up of its own military potential is not targeted at Azerbaijan. Who, or which country, is the target?
It should be said that there are Russian military bases in Georgia with Russian border guards stationed there. In November 1999 at the OSCE Istanbul summit Russia and Georgia signed an agreement (an official appendix to the CFE Treaty) under which some of the Russian bases in Georgia had to be removed. Part of the combat materiel has been moved out (partly to Armenia), however the Russian side insists that the process cannot be speeded up “for technical reasons.”
Azerbaijan is the only South Caucasian state free from foreign bases. There is still a Gabalin radar station in the north, part of the early warning system that used to protect the U.S.S.R.’s southern sector.
The military-political alliance between Armenia and Russia has militarized the region and forced Azerbaijan and Georgia to seek alternative alliances and partners outside it. These rely on Turkey’s support and are convinced that stability and security in the Southern Caucasus are impossible without a final settlement of the conflicts in Nagorny Karabakh and between Georgia and Abkhazia.
I believe that all countries (Russia and the United States that have made the Caucasus the zones of their national interests, in the first place) and international organizations (the U.N. and OSCE included) should prevent the Caucasus from becoming an arena of arms race. Its strategic importance for the world and the current situation demands that it should be made a demilitarized zone in which all interested countries should cooperate on the basis of a geostrategic compromise.
Security is a multisided concept that cannot be reduced to the military-political sphere. It embraces economic, social, psychological, information, ideological and other non-military aspects, including the human dimension. We should look at all of them in their interconnection and interdependence.
Mutual security should be based on cooperation—none of the states should strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others. The cooperation-based security calls for genuine partnership. From this it follows that official diplomacy by which I mean peace talks based on international law and designed to bring long-lasting and stable peace to the region should have a major role to play in settling conflicts, the Karabakh conflict, in particular.
Aware of the complexity of the situation and being unprepared to offer reliable methods of conflict settlement certain political circles offer their own recipes.
Some of them suggest that the leaders of the Republic of Nagorny Karabakh should be invited to talk as the third part. It is based on the practice of direct talks of official leaders with heads of separatist terrorist groups (UK leaders talked to IRA heads while the Irish Republic remained neutral). As distinct from other regions the Republic of Nagorny Karabakh cannot be regarded as one of the sides in the conflict as it can decide nothing and Azerbaijan is facing a full-scale Armenian aggression.
Others prefer popular, or unofficial, diplomacy. They want broader contacts between members of public organizations, former politicians and diplomats, and professional groups (journalists, academics, etc.). NGOs are setting public associations to work on joint projects. All of them hope that personal contacts and cooperation between citizens of these two countries will promote the peace process and bring the conflicting societies closer together. There is no doubt that personal communication and exchange of opinions can produce positive effects, they help change distorted ideas about the opposite side based on deliberately distorted information. They bring out common interests. Yet these measures are limited to the individual level, they are necessarily selective and do not involve the entire society. They do not create any agreements while the unresolved conflict still divides both nations. Individual unofficial contacts cannot replace official political and diplomatic efforts to bring about a peaceful settlement—they can create a favorable background for such settlement. Unofficial contacts should be regarded as a valuable part of other, more effective measures without which the value of personal contacts remains relative and their efficiency non-existent.
There are people who are talking about economic cooperation between the conflicting sides that will help them develop their economies and strengthen confidence. The Armenian side is especially fond of the idea. Erevan wants to preserve the existing military and political realities in the region. Translated into common tongue this means that Armenia wants to preserve the occupied territories contrary to international law.
I have used the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh to discuss certain aspects of security and stability in the Southern Caucasus. I am convinced that neither peace, nor stability and economic development are possible while the conflict remains unresolved. At the same time I do hope that reason will prevail and this and other conflicts will be resolved to allow the Caucasus to develop into an economically and socially flourishing region.
I think that the following measures may help bring the conflict to a peaceful settlement. First, all occupied territories should be immediately liberated; refugees and forced migrants should be returned to their homes; the policy of ethnic purges and territorial claims should be abandoned. Second, the region should be made a demilitarized zone with no military bases of other states and blocs stationed there. Third, the ethnic Azeris in Armenia should be given an autonomy, the same should be done for the ethnic Armenians and Azeris living in Azerbaijan (in Nagorny Karabakh) within the pre-conflict (1988) administrative borders. Fourth, all international legal requirements should be observed that are based on the sovereignty of states, inviolability of their frontiers and territorial integrity. There should be no use of force or threat of it against territorial integrity of other countries. Finally, fifth, the international legal human rights doctrines should be observed as well as the basic freedoms that demand that the states should assume unilateral obligations to protect human rights of those under their jurisdiction.
One hopes that this will bring a stable and lasting peace to the region. So far, the conflict is frozen, the Armenian and Azerbaijanian nations are waiting while the “no war, nor peace” situation continues.
1 “Speech of the President of the Azerbaijanian Republic Heydar Aliev at the meeting of Milli Mejlis on 23 February,” Bakinskiy rabochiy, No. 39 (23969), 24 February, 2001.
2 See: Human Rights Questions. Letter dated 25 October, 1996 from the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary General [http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/51/c3/ac351-9.htm].
3 See: Ibidem.
4 See: E. Nuriev, “No War, No Peace in the Caucasus: The Geopolitical Game Continues!” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 6, 2000.
5 The figures supplied by the State Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan for POWs, Hostages and Missing Persons [http://www.human.gov.az].
6 See: Human Rights Questions...
7 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Approved on 9 December, 1948, entry into force on 12 January, 1951.
8 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, 1970; Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Final Act, Helsinki, 1975.
9 See: Ibidem.
10 See: Bakinskiy rabochiy, No. 36 (23966), 21 February, 2001; Azerbaijan, No. 42 (2755), 21 February, 2001.
11 The Azerbaijanian side accepted the agreement that went against the republic’s state and national interests but was rejected by Armenia.
12 It was accepted by the Azerbaijanian and rejected by the Armenian side.
13 N. Aliev, “Mikael Danielian: ‘Karabakhskiy vopros nuzhno reshat bez Minskoi gruppy,’” Ekho, No. 24 (24), 1 March, 2001.
15 See: Kh. Ismailova, “Azerbaidzhan ot uslug Minskoi gruppy ne otkazhetsia—zaiavil glava MID Azerbaidzhana Vilaiat Guliev,” Ekho, No. 95 (95), 20 June, 2001.
16 See: T. Zulfugarov, “Azerbaidzhan i sistemy ego bezopasnosti,” Ekho, No. 8 (8), 7 February, 2001.
17 See: D. Malysheva, “Security Problems in the Caucasus,” Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 1 (7), 2001, p. 44.