Politics 13:21 02/12/2020 World

Harut Sassounian: Artsakh agreement should be amended

The “Statement” issued jointly by the Prime Minister of Armenia, and the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia on Nov. 9, 2020, was described by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as merely a ceasefire document and not the final resolution of the Artsakh issue.

While this agreement brought to an end the ongoing war, it was in reality much more than a ceasefire. It included the return to Azerbaijan most of the territories liberated by Armenians in the 1990’s. It also made other concessions to Azerbaijan which are unrelated to Artsakh. Therefore, this document signifies a capitulation on the part of Armenia.

This “Statement” is a loosely worded document which needs serious clarification, if not renegotiation, to make it more precise. I will comment on all nine points of this “Statement.”

The first unusual point in this “Statement” is that while the three leaders agreed to stop the fighting “in their current position” (point 1), the Armenian side is obligated to return territories that were not conquered by Azerbaijan. Most ceasefires indicate a stoppage at the point of contact and the differences between the sides are later settled at the negotiating table. This is why I call this agreement a capitulation, not a ceasefire.

My second observation is that the “Statement” calls for the return of the Aghdam District to Azerbaijan without referring to the Armenian side as the one returning this territory (point 2). However, in point 6, the “Statement” names the Republic of Armenia as the side obligated to return the Kelbajar and Lachin Districts to Azerbaijan. This is a serious error on the part of Armenia since the liberation of Artsakh and the surrounding territories have always been presented as the work of the Armenian forces of Artsakh, not Armenia. With this sentence in the “Statement,” Armenia accepts that it was the one that occupied these territories, thus assuming legal liability for any compensation to Azerbaijan ordered by an international court. The reference to the “Republic of Armenia” should be amended to “Armenian forces.”

Point 3 of the “Statement”: The number of Russian peacekeeping forces in Artsakh is stated as 1,960. However, there are reports that there are many more Russian troops there now and possibly even more would be coming in the future. This is a deviation from the “Statement,” which means that other changes can also be made to this agreement.

Point 4 of the “Statement”: The Russian peacekeepers are mandated to remain between the two sides for five years, unless Armenia or Azerbaijan asks them to depart six months prior to the five year period. While it is understood that no peacekeepers can remain forever, this provision should alarm Armenians because Pres. Aliyev has announced that Azerbaijan wants all of Artsakh back, not just a part of it. Therefore, Azerbaijan will most probably ask Russia to withdraw its troops in 4.5 years, opening the door for a complete Azeri takeover of Artsakh. Even worse, Russian troops could withdraw much earlier should a new war break between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Point 5 of the “Statement” mentions that a “peacekeeping center shall be established to oversee the ceasefire” without mentioning who will manage such a center. Several days after this “Statement” was signed, it was disclosed that Russian and Turkish troops will jointly manage this center to be located on Azerbaijan’s territory, outside of Artsakh. This was probably a concession by Pres. Putin to Turkey for not allowing its troops to join the Russian peacekeepers.

Point 6 of the “Statement” asked Armenia to return Kelbajar to Azerbaijan on Nov. 15, 2020. However, this date was later changed to Nov. 25. Once again, this indicates that it is possible to amend the terms of the “Statement.” Point 6 also calls for the construction of a new route “within the next three years,” to connect Artsakh with Armenia, bypassing Shushi which is now occupied by Azerbaijan.

Point 7 of the “Statement” provides that “internally displaced persons and refugees shall return to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas under the supervision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.” It is assumed that both Azeri and Armenian refugees will have the right to return to their homes in Artsakh and the surrounding territories. It is doubtful that Armenians would want to return to the territories under Azerbaijan’s control. It is not clearly stated if Azeri refugees have the right to return to the Armenian controlled part of Artsakh which could lead to clashes between the two communities.

Point 8 of the “Statement” calls for the “exchange [of] prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons, and dead bodies.” However, there is no deadline specified for such an exchange. Since there are many more Armenian captives than Azeris, this has created a serious problem for the Armenian families of the captives who are subjected to barbaric treatment by Azerbaijan.

Point 9 of the “Statement” is the most critical one and the most dangerous for the future of Armenia. It calls for the establishment of a corridor between the main territory of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan through the southern part of Armenia, near Iran’s border. This is a red line that no Armenian leader should have crossed. It endangers the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia. Such a corridor has been the dream of all Pan-Turanians to connect Turkey by land to Azerbaijan and beyond to the remaining Central Asian Turkic Republics. This is one point that Pashinyan should have adamantly refused to accept. I hope it is not too late to change this treacherous provision. One possibility is that should Azerbaijan violate any of the points of the “Statement,” Armenia would then declare point 9 of the agreement to be null and void.

For example, if Azeri forces attack the currently Armenian inhabited part of Artsakh or shut down the new Lachin corridor, Armenia could then close down the Azeri corridor in the South of Armenia. Another opportunity could come in five years, if Azerbaijan asks the Russian peacekeepers to leave Artsakh. Armenia could then close the Azeri corridor crossing its territory, since the “Statement” requires that Russian troops guarantee the safety of this corridor. Pashinyan’s explanation, that this provision would allow Armenia to use the existing railroad through Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan to transport cargo to Russia, is a fantasy. No Armenian cargo will be allowed to cross through Nakhichevan or Azerbaijan. Furthermore, this corridor isolates Armenia from Iran, a critical border for Armenia.

To make matters worse for Armenia and Iran, Azerbaijan plans to build a gas pipeline and a rail line through this corridor, thereby circumventing Iranian territory which would deprive Iran of lucrative revenues.

Most surprisingly, the ‘Statement’ makes no mention of the Jihadist mercenaries brought to Azerbaijan by Turkey. The presence of these terrorists is a violation of international law and poses a grave danger to Russia, Iran as well as Armenia. This is exactly what the French Foreign Minister pointed out during his recent visit to Armenia. This oversight must be corrected immediately by adding a new point to the ‘Statement,’ asking Azerbaijan to remove the Syrian mercenaries from its territory.

In addition to these specific points, the signed “Statement” should not be considered a legal document, since neither the Armenian Constitutional Court nor the Armenian Parliament has approved it. Pashinyan has no right to single-handedly sign a document on behalf of the Republic of Armenia without the consent of the appropriate bodies, as required by the Constitution.

Armenia now has at most five years to strengthen itself militarily by building or acquiring advanced weapon systems so it can repel a new attack by Azerbaijan and Turkey on Artsakh or Armenia. As mentioned before, Armenia should immediately recognize Artsakh either as an independent state or as part of the Republic of Armenia, thereby using this recognition as a bargaining card in negotiating a better agreement with Azerbaijan.

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
www.thecaliforniacourier.com



Source Panorama.am
Share |
Տեքստում սխալ կամ վրիպակ նկատելու դեպքում, ուղարկեք խմբագրին հաղորդագրություն` նշելով տվյալ սխալը, այնուհետև սեղմելով Ctrl-Enter:

Newsfeed

16:14
There is no panic in Shurnukh village, yet residents still face certain concerns - village mayor
The situation in Shurnukh village, part of which came under Azerbaijani control as part of the demarcation process, remains calm. There is no...
15:22
Protest staged outside the Russian Foreign Ministry calling for support to free Karabakh war prisoners
A group of citizens are holding a peaceful protest outside the Russian Foreign Ministry building in Moscow, demanding to release the Karabakh...
14:54
Rouhani says "ball in U.S. court" over nuclear deal dispute
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged the incoming U.S. administration on Wednesday to return to a 2015 nuclear agreement and lift sanctions on...
14:40
UNDP to provide 250 mln drams worth of support package to farmers in Armenia's regions
In total 250 million drams worth of support package will be provided by UNDP in Armenia to more than 50 farmers in Lori, Shirak and Tavush...
14:31
Analyst calls for specific measures, certainty concerning developments around Artsakh
Henaket Analytical Center head Tigran Abrahamyan on Wednesday called for specific measures and certainty in regard to the developments around...
14:10
Fallen soldier Grigor Ghazaryan would have turned 20 today
Today, January 20, marks the birthday anniversary of Armenian soldier Grigor Ghazaryan, who fell defending Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) in the...
13:56
Melania Trump has not reached out to Jill Biden, Biden's daughter says
While it is customary for an outgoing first lady to welcome her predecessor for a tea-and-tour of the White House, Melania Trump has not reached...
13:15
Lawyer says claims that MP retains only right to vote after leaving a faction are ‘complete nonsense’
The claims that a lawmaker retains only the right to vote after quitting a faction are “complete nonsense”, Doctor of Law Gevorg...
12:45
Biden’s nominee for secretary of state says Turkey not acting like an ally
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state on Tuesday accused NATO member Turkey of not acting like an ally and said...
12:38
Artsakh reports 17 new COVID-19 cases
Artsakh reported 17 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the national tally to 2,257. The new cases were identified in the capital...
12:29
Azerbaijan hasn’t allowed search operations in Artsakh on Wednesday
The body of an Armenian serviceman was found in Jabrayil during the search operations carried out in the settlements under Azerbaijan’s...
11:53
Famous actor Vigen Stepanyan’s memorial service to be held on January 21
The memorial service for famous actor, stage director, Honored Art Worker of Armenia Vigen Stepanyan will be held at St. Hovhannes Church in...
11:24
Armenia’s coronavirus cases top 165,000 on January 20
Armenia has confirmed 309 new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in a 24-hour period, bringing the national tally to 165,221 as of 11...
11:15
Mediaport: Hovhannes Harutyunyan to be named as new Shirak governor
Armenia’s former Deputy Minister of Health Hovhannes Harutyunyan is set to be appointed new Governor of Shirak Province on Thursday,...
10:58
Ombudsman calls for disclosing number of Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan
Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan urged the competent state body of Armenia to disclose the number of Armenian prisoners of...
10:39
Analysis: Armenia’s defeated leader is unable to resolve problems from the lost war
By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier There are three reasons why Armenia is in such a state of chaos and confusion:...
10:16
Germany warns of border closures amid fear of coronavirus mutations
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany may need to consider border crossing curbs if other European countries do not act to halt...
20:35
Prosecutors didn’t take part in discussions on returning Robert Kocharyan's passport, his lawyers say
The Prosecutor General’s Office did not participate in the discussions on returning second Armenian President Robert Kocharyan's...
19:56
‘We will continue to fight to make your dreams come true’, Garo Paylan says on anniversary of Hrant Dink’s murder
Istanbul-Armenian MP Garo Paylan, representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), took to Facebook  to pay tribute to...
19:37
Woman freezes to death in Armenian city
A 70-year-old woman was found frozen to death in a home in Armenia’s second largest city of Gyumri, President of the Shirak Center NGO...
19:05
Vazgen Manukyan offers condolences on demise of merited actor Vigen Stepanyan
Vazgen Manukyan, the candidate of the opposition Homeland Salvation Movement for interim prime minister, expressed condolences on the demise of...
18:39
Prices of sunflower and corn oil grew globally, Armenian official says
Armenia’s State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC) is studying the oil, butter, flour and patrol markets in...
18:00
Joe Biden plans to propose 8-year citizenship path for immigrants
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year...
17:47
Armenian Defense Ministry reports ‘stable situation’ along border with Azerbaijan
The operational situation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border remained stable on January 18 and in the morning of January 19, the Defense...
17:32
MP: 197 historical and cultural monuments in Shushi fell under Azerbaijan’s control
A total of 197 historical and cultural monuments, about 800 paintings, graphic works and sculptures of the Museum of Fine Arts in the Artsakh...
16:46
Armenian opposition movement denies media reports about Syunik visit
The Homeland Salvation Movement comprising Armenia’s 17 opposition parties dismissed media reports alleging residents of Syunik Province...
16:14
Artsakh reports 6 fresh coronavirus cases
Artsakh reported 6 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the national tally to 2,240. The new cases were identified in the capital city...
15:59
Israel calls for closure of Hamas’ Istanbul office to normalise relations with Turkey
Israel relayed a statement to Ankara that there would be no thaw in relations until the military wing of militant Islamist group Hamas in...
15:46
Bodies of seven more servicemen found in search operations in Artsakh
Eight more bodies of killed were found during the search operations in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) on Monday, Hunan Tadevosyan, the head of the...
15:25
Robert Kocharyan greeted with applause outside the Yerevan court
Armenia's former president Robert Kocharyan approached his supporters outside the Yerevan Court of General Jurisdiction on Monday, where he...

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}