Levon Gevorgyan, a lawyer specializing in international law, answers Hetq’s questions
– Mr. Gevorgyan, after Nikol Pashinyan stated that Armenia recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan with the CIS documents, you stressed that those documents are about the principle of territorial integrity and not the recognition of the USSR administrative borders, that is, Armenia is not Recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, as presented by the Prime Minister. I would like to clarify the nuances of the problem and why the chief negotiator made such a statement, in your opinion.
– First of all, there is a misconception about what territorial integrity means. In other words, recognizing or not recognizing the territorial integrity of a state does not mean recognizing the title of a state in relation to a territory. These are completely different things. States cannot but recognize each other’s territorial integrity, it’s in line with the UN Charter. Here we need to understand what territorial integrity means in general. This means that states commit themselves not to use force against each other in order to seize each other’s territories. But this does not mean that states can not dispute which territory belongs to whom.
The founding documents of the CIS clearly state one thing – the principle of territorial integrity of states, which also follows from the UN Charter. But the founding documents of the CIS do not mention the continuity of the Soviet borders. These are completely different things. That is, the continuity of the Soviet borders is not a principle that presumably determines which territory belongs to whom. The principle of territorial integrity begins to work when it is already clear to whom the territory belongs. In this case, the territory of state A or B is already protected from the aspirations of others on the principle of territorial integrity.
To say that the state has recognized the territorial integrity, therefore, can not demand anything from it, is almost the same as the principle of property in our Civil Code, and as if it means that my neighbor’s house is mine. This is nonsense ․ It is one thing to talk about property rights and say that property rights are inviolable, it is quite another to say what belongs to whom.
– If we talk about principles, then the founding right of the CIS, as well as the UN documents, the Helsinki Final Act enshrines the inalienable right to self-determination, on the other hand, it is a fact that Artsakh declared its independence from Azerbaijan and the USSR before the CIS Observing all the norms of the Soviet legislation. Do you agree that the founding documents of the CIS have nothing to do with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
– Not that they can not have, but simply the CIS founding documents have no impact on the settlement of the Artsakh conflict. I repeat, the founding documents of the CIS state that all states recognize each other’s territorial integrity, the inseparability of borders. This does not mean that the CIS member states declare that they recognize each state within the Soviet administrative borders. These boundaries are disputed in many places. Well, now South Ossetia and Abkhazia are vivid examples of that, the other examples are. In other words, there are many examples when the Soviet borders were disputed by the newly created states.
There is nothing in the founding documents of the CIS that would rule out the possibility of territorial disputes between the newly created or, more precisely, newly independent states. Newly independent, newly created states, yes, can and do have territorial disputes. This is normal.
And the Artsakh conflict, naturally, is a bit more multipolar ․ There is both the issue of self-determination and the question of whether Azerbaijan can consider itself a Soviet state in relation to the territory of Artsakh or not (in 1991, Azerbaijan declared itself the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan and the non-Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic in 1918-1920. legal successor – group ․).
–Pashinyan has repeatedly stated that the process of delimitation and demarcation and the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict do not intersect in any way, while in May of this year the RA Foreign Ministry spokesman stated that delimitation and demarcation should be part of the process of comprehensive peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Do you share Pashinyan’s approach or do you agree with the opinion that the separation of the two issues contains dangers in terms of advancing the interests of the Armenian side in the Artsakh conflict?
– Regardless of everything, if the process of Armenian-Azerbaijani delimitation and demarcation is carried out, it must clearly state that it does not predetermine or determine the status of the territory of Artsakh.
The issue of the status of Artsakh is settled in a completely different political format – the OSCE Minsk Group, whose powers are delegated by UN Security Council resolutions. The UN Security Council has never relinquished its powers to the Minsk Group. The OSCE has never relinquished that mandate. Therefore, if there is any demarcation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the issue of Artsakh’s status should be clearly left out of that process. If this is not done, Azerbaijan will insist that the issue of Artsakh’s status is also closed by delimitation.
Photo from ey.com
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