After the 2016 April war, Armenia has all the grounds to insist on new approaches to Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) and push for adopting a new international norm to prove that the conflict in question differs from many other regional and territorial disputes, according to a diplomat.
In an interview with Tert.am, Ruben Shugaryan, a former deputy foreign minister and a former Armenian ambassador to Italy, called for increased attention to people’s salvation, which he said should add to the already existing principles (exercise of the right to self-determination, or territorial integrity).
Shugaryan, now a professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), also stressed the importance of a civilized dialogue as an additional guarantee against possible Azerbaijani aggressions.
“We have all the grounds – especially in the light of the April war – to prove and insist that the Karabakh conflict is different from all the other conflicts in essence. It is different from the conflicts in both the post-Soviet countries and in Eastern Europe, etc, as we are directly concerned with the people’s salvation – apart from the exercise of the right to self-determination or territorial integrity. In Georgia, for example, there is a conflict over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, but we do not see any physical threat there,” he said, citing Armenian Officer Gurgen Margaryan’s brutal killing in Budapest as a serious precedent necessitating a strong action and reaction by the international community.
“Our task today is to give the international community proper knowledge of Azerbaijan’s continuing crime propaganda which makes violence part of their state policies. The glorification of an axe-killer [Ramil Safarov] by the president potentially threatens physical extermination,” Shugaryan added.
He called for serious efforts especially by the Foreign Ministry and other government agencies, appreciating at the same time Nagorno-Karabakh Ombudsman Ruben Melikyan’s work towards raising international awareness of the crimes committed during the April war.
Asked to comment on the authorities’ repeatedly voiced plans for mutual concessions, Shugaryan agreed that it would be inevitable in the future peace efforts but highlighted also a change of attitudes to the concept after the April war. “No solution is certainly possible without mutual concessions – which should not logically be unilateral. But mutual concessions implied an absolutely different status before the April war. A lot has changed ever since; anyway it doesn’t absolutely imply that Armenia should not agree to mutual concessions. It has to under any circumstances, but it is important at the same time undertake additional steps,” he said.
“Along with the Madrid Principles, we should push ahead also with the principle of sovereignty for salvation.
“In that case, we will not have to discuss mutual concessions, as they will apply to the next phase [of the process]. Of primary importance will be the new status. Only after achieving that status, as well as new approaches by the international community, will it be possible to speak about mutual concessions,” he added.
Meantime Shugaryan admitted that achieving final peace with an unpredictable neighbor like Azerbaijan will not be a simple task. “In the face of unpredictable leaders and countries, it isn’t absolutely easy to predict anything. But the mechanisms of restraint are increasing in number today – both directly and indirectly. The ratification of the EU-Armenia Agreement by different countries’ parliaments, for instance, could be an indirect mechanism. The say the Agreement does not have a security component – which is practically true – but the fact of ratification itself creates a security guarantee.
“I don’t think there is or can be any tangible progress in the negotiations, but I do observe certain changes in the international politics and the international community’s attitudes,” the diplomat added.