Azerbaijani Presidential Administration: Recognition of illegal 1991 "referendum" in Nagorno-Karabakh is impossible
"Azerbaijan stands for the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and restoration of the internationally recognized state border of the Azerbaijan Republic peacefully, without bringing the situation to the hostilities. This requires the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan -to date that includes the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent regions, which together constitute the 20 percent of our state," Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Political Analysis and Information Provision Department Head Elnur Aslanov said. He was commenting on Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan's statement that he made in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
Speaking about ways to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Sargsyan said "the only method to resolve the conflict is a peaceful way, and the only way is to hold a referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh or recognize the results of the referendum held in 1991 in full compliance with the laws of the Soviet Union and international law."
Aslanov said the recognition of results of the illegitimate and illegal "referendum" held in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan on Dec.10, 1991 is impossible, since it, according to legal opinion, was conducted in violation of the USSR law, outside the legal framework and the international law.
"Holding a new vote should also not conflict with the law. Otherwise it would be pointless and similarly recognized as having no legal consequences. Furthermore, a new vote is impossible under conditions of continuing occupation of the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan and being of one third of the Nagorno-Karabakh region's population in exile. Referendums are not held in such a way, moreover, on the territory of the Member States of the Council of Europe and OSCE. It is possible to conduct a vote while addressing these serious interferences, but not contrary to the Azerbaijani Constitution," Aslanov added.
Aslanov said Azerbaijan recognizes the territorial integrity of Armenia, its state borders and waits for the same approach from Armenia, but, alas, does not see it. "Territorial integrity is not inclined and does not have different forms, while self-determination of nations can be of different types - both internal and external, depending on the context. If the Madrid proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group suggested combining these two principles, then it logically means choosing a self-determination form, which does not lead to violation of territorial integrity of sovereign states. The only form of combining these two principles is self-determination in the framework of territorial integrity in accordance with Article 8 of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, which was put in the pledge of the peace process. That is, it is an internal self-determination. Self-determination leading to withdrawal of the Nagorno-Karabakh region from Azerbaijan violates the territorial integrity and, therefore, first of all contrary to the logic of the Madrid principles. Therefore, the position of Azerbaijan, which adopted a similar scheme, is fully a compromise; there is a territorial integrity, allowing for self-determination within it, and self-determination, not violating the territorial integrity," Aslanov said.
In turn, Armenia holds a maximalist position, claiming to such a form of self-determination for the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh which in fact cancels other principle, he said. "This is the reason why Armenia's current position in the negotiation process is called non-constructive. This position does not build a compromise, but destroys it. So, it leads to destruction, not construction. Hence, the definition of the unconstructive position of Armenia appears," Aslanov underscored.
He said that Azerbaijan's readiness to consider and discuss an issue of self-determination is a great compromise in fact. Though self-determination is a mechanism for solving internal conflicts, such as in Southern Sudan, the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is an interstate dispute. "Resolving the inter-state conflicts is based on observing the territorial integrity of sovereign countries and self-determination in this kind of conflicts is inappropriate as the parties in the inter-state conflicts are the already self-determined independent countries, rather than their separate provinces," Aslanov said.
Azerbaijan has made a compromise, stating about its readiness to consider the self-determination of the two community-population of Nagorno-Karabakh region, but certainly not at the expense of its territorial integrity, Aslanov believes. "This is a big concession, given the undeniable fact that Armenia armed forces are located in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenia must withdraw its troops from the territory of Azerbaijan so that the conflict not to be interstate any more. It will close up a topic of territorial integrity and the question will be included into the category of a dialogue between the capital and the province to determine appropriate forms of self-determination of citizens. However, Yerevan understands "self-determination" as a split of Azerbaijan into two parts. We do not demand the same split from Armenia and appearing the second Azerbaijani state on a part of its territory - in Zangezur and Eastern Geychay, inhabited by Azerbaijanis for centuries, hiding behind the term "right of the nation to self-determination". The balance, but not unilateral approach, is needed everywhere," Aslanov said.
Therefore, while determining the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh at the very last stage, no vote should lead to violation of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. "If Armenia continues to claim at the so-called "independence" for Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, we should also demand the territory for self-determination of the former Azerbaijani population of Armenia, which for example, we will call "Geycha-Zangezur people", and establishment of the second Azerbaijani state in Armenia. But instead of advancing deep into the dead end, we would like Yerevan to return to the constructivism," Aslanov said.