An open appeal to the international community about the recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh Republic)

Posted on October. 17. 2020

From the Lieutenant General, Doctor of law
Armen Zalinyan

Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am Armen Zalinyan- Armenian, lieutenant general, jurist. I appeal to every member of the international community with love and faith that each of you has a desire to know the truth for yourself, so that when you make a decision – what to do, how to act – you could act with understanding and responsibility. With an understanding of the existing realities and with responsibility for the consequences of your position, your decision, because in life, as in politics, everything happens for a reason, everything is interconnected.

For already 19 days Azerbaijan, with open and active political and military support and participation of Turkey, has been committing aggression against the Republic of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, including bombing peaceful cities and villages, killing civilians. The Republic of Armenia has officially addressed the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – France, Russia, the USA – who have the mandate to resolve the Karabakh conflict. The Republic of Armenia also appealed to the UN and other international organizations. The whole world knows that a war is going on in Nagorno-Karabakh and peaceful civilians are dying. The Republic of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic present evidence that Turkey not only strongly supports Azerbaijan in this war with armament and military specialists but also transfers international terrorists from Syria to Azerbaijan to participate in the war. This fact was also confirmed by the intelligence services of other states. Therefore, it should be obvious to everyone that the issue has already gone beyond the framework of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Karabakh confrontation.

The co-chairs of the Minsk Group condemned the hostilities and called on the parties to an immediate ceasefire and sit down at the negotiation table, the UN Security Council announced the same, a trilateral statement of the foreign ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia on a ceasefire was adopted in Moscow, but nothing stopped Azerbaijan and Turkey. After that, in Nagorno-Karabakh, civilians continue to die. More and more victims every day. Obviously, the goal is the Armenian genocide in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Unfortunately, now I must admit that the international community lacks not only love and compassion but also order and a sense of responsibility. I am sure that many will now say that it has always been this way, it has long been known. In response to such a statement, I will say the following: in life, there are moments, especially on your deathbed, when you would like to sacrifice a lot to change something specific that you have not done. I am sure that someday you need to start with something, and something specific needs to be changed. And may this change, a change in thinking, a change in approaches and positions be manifested in the Karabakh confrontation, which lasts 32 years, which claimed tens of thousands of lives.

I am not a naive person to think that the practical geopolitics that has existed for centuries can change in a few days, but I am sure that if each of you can calmly, consciously think, and understand how safe and pleasant it is to live in peace, in love and order, it will sooner or later become a reality, but all members of the international community must comprehend this, and whoever opposes this order will be immediately and finally punished after an open warning from the international community. And there should be no exceptions, including those based on political expediency and practical geopolitics. This is an extremely subtle and global approach that must be learned to avoid mistakes, not to go against the idea and logic of the universe, which cannot be violated. This must be approached with unlimited responsibility.

The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have been fighting for 32 years and defending their right to life, to a safe and free existence on the land of their ancestors. From the very beginning of the fight, the Armenians believed that the international community would resolve the Karabakh confrontation based on the principles and norms of international law. But as life has shown, the leadership of Azerbaijan did not think about a legal solution to the confrontation. Over the years, it thought only about one thing – how to destroy the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian people never believed that the international community represented by international organizations: primarily the UN, the OSCE, in particular the OSCE Minsk Group represented by Russia, France, the United States, would allow Azerbaijan to ignore the legal resolution of this confrontation based on international law created by them, including the values of democracy, law, and civilization. However, over the past 19 days, Azerbaijan has fully displayed its dismissive, cynical attitude towards both international law and the OSCE Minsk Group. Azerbaijan together with Turkey want to destroy faith in the possible just world order.

For three decades, Azerbaijan has not wanted to recognize the legitimacy of the fait accompli of self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, hiding behind a falsified history, an imaginary, contrived hierarchy of principles of international law, subordinating the principle of equality and self-determination of peoples to the principle of territorial integrity of states, thereby violating not only the norms of fundamental international legal acts but also the whole logic of international law. And this is not a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as has been heard recently.

For many years, the cynical policy of Azerbaijan was supported by Turkey, which, in every possible way, tried to slow down the solution of the Karabakh confrontation and the implementation of international law, hindering the establishment of peace in the region, trying to turn the Karabakh confrontation exclusively into political bargaining, with a purely political decision. Today, Turkey once again cynically violates not only the norms of international law but also crashes into the territory, into confrontation, the regulation of which is under the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group, thereby destroying the existing geopolitical alignment in the region, the existing geopolitical balance, which proves the inconsistency and unpredictability of any practical politics, practical geopolitics, even such geopolitics, where the main actors are France, Russia, USA. I think there is something to seriously think about here.

The Armenians believed and continue to believe that the international community will not show indifference to the people who know firsthand what genocide is.

But at the same time, the Armenians know that they should argue to the international community that all actions of the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh, since 1988, comply with the principles and norms of international law so that they could have the right to become a part of this community in the person of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

And today, as before, we argue the legitimacy of the actions of the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

So, we are deeply convinced that there is not only no hierarchy between the principles of self-determination and territorial integrity and do not contradict each other, moreover, they are closely interconnected.

The question about the relation between the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and the territorial integrity of states, understanding their philosophy and legal content is important not only for resolving the Karabakh confrontation, but also other similar international conflicts. It is an imperfect understanding of the philosophy and legal content of these principles and their relation that is a restraining factor, which is why some states – members of the international community seek to emphasize the importance of the principle of territorial integrity of states in the Karabakh conflict, thereby seeking to protect themselves from possible separatist manifestations in their states.

For the first time, the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples as a basic principle has been fixed in a universal international treaty, which is the UN Charter.

Protection of the territorial integrity of states has been fixed in the UN Charter within the context of the principle of non-use of force or threat of force.

The essence of the territorial integrity of states has been interpreted in the “Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations of 1970” (further – the Declaration on Principles of International Law of 1970). And as a separate, independent principle, the principle of territorial integrity of the states has been fixed in the CSCE (Helsinki) Final Act of August 1, 1975.

Both the Declaration on Principles of International Law of 1970 and the CSCE Final Act has also been confirmed the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

It is irrefutable, that the International law is an integrated system of legal regulation, and any discrepancy of principles, norms of the International law can result in its disintegration, undermining the very existence of the International law. In the “Declaration on Principles of International Law of 1970,” the following is fixed:

“In the interpretation and application the above principles are interrelated and each principle should be construed in the context of the other principles”.

While implementing this provision, the following conclusion suggests itself: principles of self-determination and territorial integrity are not conflicting, and, what is more, are tightly bound.

In compliance with the “Declaration on Principles of International Law of 1970” and the 1975 CSCE Final Act, the right to self-determination is an inalienable and permanent right of peoples, both possessing statehood and stateless.

In the 1970 Declaration, the following is fixed:

“Creation of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence of any other political status, freely determined by a people constitutes modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people”.

The CSCE Final Act states:

1. “The participating States will respect the equal rights of peoples and their right to self-determination, acting at all times in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the relevant norms of international law, including those relating to the territorial integrity of States”.

2. “By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, all peoples always have the right, in full freedom, to determine, when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference, and to pursue as they wish their political, economic, social and cultural development”( Article VIII ).

Moreover, the state must not only respect the right of peoples to self-determination but also promote its realization. Each state is obliged to abstain from any violent action, depriving peoples of their right to self-determination. While resisting such actions, the people, implementing its right to self-determination, have the right to request and receive support in compliance with the UN Charter and other international legal acts.

At the same time, the right to self-determination cannot be regarded as a right without any restrictions, and in this respect, the integrity of the International law becomes apparent.

Revealing the necessity of understanding, formulation and emphasizing of the importance of the principle of self-determination, the legal conscience of the civilized world, the history of the development of the mankind, and the practice of the interstate relations would not allow the states to neglect the maintenance of one of the basic sovereign rights of state – the right to territorial integrity. And here appears an approach, an idea, which importance is also difficult to overestimate. The International law, as a product of the culture and civilization of the mankind and not an individual state, is called to provide harmonious development of the international community, and the pledge of such a development is the balance between the common to all mankind and the national, the state interests; the balance, regulated and controlled by the international community by means of the International law.

So, what mechanism is fixed in the International law which allows assessing and guaranteeing the legitimacy of the actions, introduced as the realization of the right to self-determination and, at the same time, violating the territorial integrity of a state?

The essence of this mechanism is that in such cases, the parity of the principles of self-determination and territorial integrity each time should be regarded as a concrete case-problem: in some circumstances there can appear the need for the establishment of order inside a state by lawful means, in others – there can appear the need to enable international sanctions against the state, which does not voluntarily recognize the legitimacy of a people’s actions, directed to self-determination, and allows violence against it.

The legitimacy of actions, presented as the realization of the right to self-determination, is assessed in the following way: to what extent the equal coexistence, the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples are fulfilled in a state without any discrimination, which is a radical precondition for effective maintenance and observance of human rights; a pledge of peace and stability both within the state and in the international arena. If a state demonstrates a high level of the democratic development and adherence to the legal values, observes the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the right of peoples to be the masters of their destinies, thus providing the highest possible conditions for the harmonious development of all ethnic groups and peoples and securing human rights without any discrimination, then the actions, presented as the realization of the right to self-determination and violating the integrity of the territory of the given state would be illegal. So, in cases, when self-determination is realized under the influence of unjustified aspirations to separation, the violation of the territorial integrity of the state covered with the right to self-determination will not be lawful.

As logically appears from the above: if a state wishes to retain its territorial integrity and political unity, then it similarly, in the same volume, should express and confirm the desire to see harmonious development of all ethnic groups and peoples composing its society, and undertake effective steps in this direction.

That the stated position is fully consonant to the concept of justice as well as to the values and the legal approaches, serving as a basis for the notions of “self-determination”, “territorial integrity”, whose interconnections and harmonic combination only can move the international community towards securing universal peace, international stability, and security. Namely, this interconnection of the principles (the right to self-determination and the territorial integrity of states) is established by the International law.

The 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law emphasizes the importance and necessity of the creation of conditions for the free implementation of the right to self-determination, and at the same time fixes the following:

“Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be construed as authorizing and encouraging any actions which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples as described above and thus possessed of government representing the whole people belonging to the territory, without distinction as to race, creed or color”.

From the analysis of this provision follows, that in case of absence of the conditions specified in the above-stated provision, the realization of the right to self-determination can dismember or impair, totally or in part, “the territorial integrity or political unity” of a sovereign and independent state.

Thus, International law does not consider the territorial integrity and political unity of states as absolute and unconditional values.

The said is also proved in the CSCE Final Act, which concerning the territorial integrity of states fixes prohibition of any actions against the territorial integrity or unity of states, except for the cases, compatible with the UN Charter, its purposes, and principles.

So, the fundamental conditions in the above-stated provision of the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law, intended for the legal protection of the state from unjustified aspirations to separation, are those, absence of which makes the self-determination that breaks the territorial integrity of the state, will be justified and lawful from the legal perspective.

There are three conditions:

1. The state should “observe the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples in its actions”;

2. It should “thereof has the government, representing the whole people, belonging to the given territory”;

3. At the same time, there should not be pursued any discrimination based on race, creed, or color.

It is impossible to say that such conditions are secured in Azerbaijan. Moreover, we can bring any amount of examples of rough and regular violations of equal rights and the right to self-determination, human rights, outrageous facts of large-scale arbitrariness, and violence of the Azerbaijani Government against the Armenian population everywhere, where it entrusted its state to this government.

For 70 years (from 1921 to 1991) it had demonstrated itself by a state policy of oppression and discrimination, consistently carried out in political, cultural, social, and economic spheres; by outrage, despotism, illegality, and violence towards Armenians; by the creation of conditions in all spheres of life, that nullified not only Armenian autonomy in the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region within Azerbaijan, but has also had catastrophic consequences for the preservation of the Armenian ethnos in Azerbaijan. The Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh have never put up with the deprivation of their freedom, the right to a safe existence, the right to life, and have always opposed the lawlessness and violence by the government of Azerbaijan. And the culmination of the state policy of Azerbaijan was the deportation and genocide of Armenians in Azerbaijan. These are not just words. These are facts, this is pain.

Based on the above-mentioned, we state the presence of legal arguments in favor of the admission of the legitimacy of the fact of self-determination of the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh through the creation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic:

1. In their actions the Azerbaijani authorities have never observed the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples;

2. The Azerbaijani authorities have always acted as the organizer or the patron of rough, regular, large-scale discriminations, mass and severe violent actions against the Armenian people of the Nagorno Karabakh, up to genocide;

3. Starting from the above-stated and taking into consideration the fact of the decades-long counteraction of the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh to the Azerbaijani authorities, we have no bases to state that the Azerbaijani state has had a government representing all the population, more exact – all peoples of Azerbaijan, especially – the Armenian people of Nagorno Karabakh.

And here, there cannot be room for statements about the violation of the interests of Azerbaijan, something that we quite frequently hear.

It is impossible to understand how can a state, which has provoked and patronized the genocide of Armenians not only in Karabakh, but also in other cities of Azerbaijan – in peaceful cities hundreds-of-kilometers far from Karabakh: Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, speak about infringements of its rights, interests and, besides, lay down conditions before the people, subjected to murder and slaughter? This question is also directed to those who speak up about the violation of the rights of Azerbaijan and question the legality, morality, acceptability, justice of the actions of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, who want to secure their existence, their right to life.

I think the time has come for the international community to make a choice – what is most important: the conscious provision of international stability, security, peace based on international law or the admission of an open, cynical violation, disregard of international law. But in this case, everyone will have the right to announce publicly, loudly, that the modern International law – the result of the development of the civilization of the international community – is a chimera, because the desired state of affairs must be established and maintained at any cost, even at the cost of desecrating what was created by the civilized world itself.

Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen!

I appeal to the international community to recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic).

By recognizing the independence of the Republic of Artsakh, the international community will ensure effective protection and security for the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh and stop the aggression of Azerbaijan and Turkey against the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) and the Republic of Armenia, aimed at the Armenian genocide.

With respect,
Armen Zalinyan

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