in Russian – http://crossroadorg.info/manasyan-19-8-2023/
An article by PhD in Philosophical Sciences, Professor, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia A. Manasyan, timed to the Briefing of the UN Security Council on August 16, 2023 on the blockade of Artsakh (NKR) by Azerbaijan from December 12, 2022. Video recordings and texts of speeches at the meeting on August 16 – here.
GENERAL PURPOSE OF ARARAT MIRZOYAN’S SPEECH AT THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFING DATED 16 AUGUST 2023
The speech was structured according to the logic of reducing all problems related to the Artsakh issue to humanitarian law. The “informational impression” that listeners received from his speech was such that the resolution of the Karabakh problem is limited exclusively by the instruments of humanitarian law. But a conflict that has long since become internationally significant, by definition, cannot be such, being reduced only to humanitarian issues. Thirty years of experience in its settlement directly confirms this circumstance. The main topic of the thirty-year negotiation process within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group was to determine the legal status of Artsakh. It is no coincidence that the fundamental principles of international law, including the right of peoples to free self-determination, were laid at the heart of the conflict settlement.
WHY NOT THE REPUBLIC OF ARTSAKH, BUT ARMENIA?
Until 1993, when the well-known Resolutions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were adopted by the UN Security Council, the Republic of Armenia was not perceived by the international community as a party to the conflict . Baku tried in every possible way to oust the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from the negotiation process in order to deprive it of one of the main attributes of subjectivity. The leaders of Armenia, inexperienced in international diplomacy, mistakenly met the request of the President of Azerbaijan G. Aliyev. As a result, (this was evidenced by the co-chairman of the Minsk Group V. Kazimirov ) in May 1994 Armenian leaders agreed to sign under the Bishkek Protocol on a truce without a corresponding clause that Armenia did not participate in the negotiations in the status of a party to the conflict, but as a mediator or interested party. This was expected in Baku. This signature became the basis for abandoning the format of trilateral negotiations with the participation of Stepanakert. At the beginning Baku’s whim not to sit at the negotiating table with Stepanakert was not perceived by the OSCE Minsk Group as Stepanakert’s exclusion from the negotiation process. Minsk Group co-chairs regularly visited Stepanakert and, in the format of shuttle diplomacy, maintained so far the status of the NKR as a party to the conflict and a participant in the negotiation discourse.
Meanwhile, Baku propaganda planted in the public mind the idea that it managed to change the format of the negotiations and that only Armenia, which allegedly seized part of Azerbaijan, is a party to be disputed with. Strange as it may seem, Yerevan, in turn, contributed (we again proceed from the presumption of inexperience of Armenian diplomats) to these efforts of Baku by doing practically nothing serious to preserve and enhance the status of the NKR as a party to the conflict and negotiator. Yerevan could, for example, put proposals on the negotiating table on behalf of the NKR, and not from the Republic of Armenia. The new leaders of Armenia continues the same wrong course. The latest confirmation of this is the speech of the head of the Armenian Foreign Ministry at the meeting of the UN Security Council on August 16. It could have been composed in such a way that it contained a part on behalf of the official Artsakh. Armenian FM could even read a statement made by the NKR Parliament and make some comments on it on behalf of the Republic of Armenia. This would make it possible to voice ideas and facts from the highest international pulpit to the whole world, which, for diplomatic reasons, would not be appropriate to speak on behalf of Armenia. But it’s not only that. With every act of sole representation of the conflict, Yerevan strikes at the subjectivity of Stepanakert.
THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE OF ARTSAKH TO DEFEND THEIR LEGITIMATELY ESTABLISHED STATEHOOD IS INALIENABLE
A negative answer to the question “Was the right of the people of Artsakh nullified after the occupation of part of its territory by Azerbaijan in 2020?” obvious. No one has the right to deprive the people of this right won in battles and already repeatedly recognized. As early as December 2, 1920, the right to full self-determination of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh was recognized by Baku itself . On April 3, 1990, the same right was recognized by all the republics of the former Soviet union state and enshrined in the USSR Law “On the resolution of issues related to the withdrawal of a union republic from the USSR” . According to this law, autonomous entities, including the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (Region), in the event of the collapse of the Soviet union state, had the right to raise the status in the system of the national state structure of the USSR up to the creation of a sovereign state. Exactly this was implemented by the people of Artsakh on December 10, 1991 by the nationwide referendum that established the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. With a special statement, international observers confirmed the complete compliance of the referendum with international requirements .
BLOCKADE AS A STRENGTHENING OF THE LEGAL STATUS OF THE REPUBLIC OF ARTSAKH/NKR
The blockade of the Republic of Artsakh organized by Baku not only does not nullify its recognized and legally implemented right, but, on the contrary, further strengthens its legal status and position. Now, in the conditions of gaining wide popularity of Baku’s policy aimed at the genocide of the people of the Republic of Artsakh, it is finally time to present the essence of the issue with the formula: “Recognition for the sake of salvation!” Not “Secession for the sake of salvation” (remedial secession), but namely “Recognition for the sake of salvation!”, since the territories of the Republic of Artsakh, according to international law and on the grounds of the problem itself, do not legally belong to the Republic of Azerbaijan. But this needs to be said specifically.
ARTSAKH IS ARMENIAN TERRITORY ANNEXED BY AZERBAIJAN
There is no such document that could become a legal basis for Baku’s claims to Nagorno-Karabakh. There is no such document! In the Soviet years, Baku referred to the so-called decision of the Caucasus Bureau of the Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks (RKP(B)) dated July 5, 1921 . The fact that this “document” did not have provoking power is also known in Baku. The party body of Russia was not empowered to issue verdicts concerning the territorial issues of third countries (the USSR had not yet been formed). But this is not only circumstance that proves the lack of legal basis with the “decision” made by the Caucasus Bureau of the RCP (B). In fact, this “decision” was not procedurally adopted (!) in contrast to another one, that was pro-Armenian and was adopted just a day before (on July 4, 1921) without procedural violations by the same Caucasus Bureau of the RCP (B). On July 5, Stalin read the text of the “decision” and did not put it up for discussion and voting. According to the “document” that was not adopted, it was decided: “Based on the need for national peace between Muslims and Armenians … Nagorno-Karabakh should be left within the boundaries of the Azerbaijan SSR, giving it broad regional autonomy with an administrative center in the city of Shushi.” The verb “be left” introduces an outright lie into the unaccepted “document”. The fact is that Nagorno-Karabakh had already been proclaimed an inseparable part of Soviet Armenia – moreover, with the knowledge of the same Caucasian Bureau of the RCP (B), which on June 3 of the same year obliged Armenia to declare Nagorno-Karabakh its inseparable part . It was impossible “to leave” within Azerbaijan SSR something that was not there. The Bolshevik center was in a hurry, thus sent Stalin to a meeting of the Caucasus Bureau to transfer by any means Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan SSR! The Bolshevik center actually annexed Nagorno-Karabakh, by including it illegally within Azerbaijan SSR. This was done against the will of the people of the Armenian region, whose Congress of Plenipotentiaries, on the day of the establishment of Soviet power in Baku, proclaimed the native region an indivisible part of the Republic of Armenia.
DECLARATION OF NKR INDEPENDENCE ON TERRITORIES NOT BELONGING TO THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN DURING THE COLLAPSE OF THE USSR
Artsakh being annexed in favor of Azerbaijan SSR got the new opportunity to declare sovereignty during the collapse of the USSR. It happened when Baku decided to renounce the legal heritage of Azerbaijan SSR and to proclaim itself the successor of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) established by the Turks, which did not ever include Artsakh.
On December 10, 1991, the Republic of Artsakh/NKR was proclaimed by a nationwide referendum. This act is absolutely legitimate if Baku agrees to consider the issue in the context of the collapse of the USSR. The legal impeccability of the formation of the NKR is based on the aforementioned Law of the USSR of April 3, 1990 and the Law of the USSR “On the delimitation of powers between the Union of the SSR and the subjects of the Federation” . Last confirmed that autonomous formations were included within the boundaries of the Soviet union republics on the basis of self-determination of the peoples of these autonomies. Both laws recognized the right to self-determination of the peoples of the autonomous formations of the USSR and the preservation of this right outside the context of the state legal system of the USSR (ie, in the event of its collapse).
But the legitimacy of the Artsakh/NKR independence referendum has also another legal basis. It is connected with the decision of Baku to renounce the legal heritage of Azerbaijan SSR, with its decision to declare the Sovietization of Azerbaijan as its annexation by Soviet Russia and to restore the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic established by the Ottoman army in 1918. Baku did just that with the Declaration on the Restoration of State Independence (August 30, 1991) . Moreover in the Constitutional Law on State Independence of October 18, 1991, this concept of rejection of the political and legal heritage was proclaimed in a more detailed version . By this, Baku intended to deprive Artsakh of the opportunity to use the above-mentioned laws of the USSR in acts of sovereignization. The calculation was cunning. In assessments of the sovereignization of the post-Soviet states, the view of considering the unfolding processes in the context of the collapse of the USSR completely dominated. Baku avoided this in the hope of parrying Stepanakert’s arguments based on such an approach. However, Baku experts miscalculated. By returning to the political and legal realities of 1918-1920, they provided the people of Artsakh with a stronger justification for the legitimacy of the NKR independence referendum of December 10, 1991. The fact is that Nagorno-Karabakh was not part of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, to the realities of which they decided to return to Baku. From the acts on the restoration of state independence of the ADR followed the legal fact that on December 10, 1991, the NKR took place in the territories that did not legally belong to Azerbaijan Republic that returned to the realities of 1918-1920.
ON DECEMBER 10-11, 1991, EUROPE “DIDN’T NOTICE” THE LEGITIMATELY FORMED NKR AND DECIDED TO RECOGNIZE THE REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN WHERE THERE WERE NOT A SINGLE ACT OF SELF-DETERMINATION AND NOT A SINGLE REFERENDUM DURING THE WHOLE XX CENTURY
The fact that both the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic “came into the world” without any act of self-determination is a well-known fact. The first was “established” by the Ottoman army that broke into Transcaucasia, and Azerbaijan SSR was established by XI Red Army of Soviet Russia. Being aware of all these events, Europe decided to recognize the Republic of Azerbaijan within the borders of the former Azerbaijan SSR, although “the former Azerbaijan SSR” as such no longer existed. Also the Baku authorities themselves had no idea either about the borders of the Azerbaijan SSR, from the legal succession of which they refused, or about the borders of the ADR of 1918-1920, the restoration of which they proclaimed. Therefore, regarding the borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the authors of the aforementioned “Constitutional Act on the State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan” had to resort to a legally meaningless statement: “The territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan within the historically established borders is one, indivisible and inalienable.”
The circumstances with the Republic of Azerbaijan were such when, by decision of the European Council (Maastricht, December 9-11, 1991), on December 16, 1991 in Brussels, at a meeting of the EU Council at the level of foreign ministers, the situation in the USSR and in some countries of Eastern Europe was discussed. The Council of the EU defined the common approach of the “twelve” to the issue of official recognition of new states on the territory of the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe. Criteria were established for the official recognition by Europe of the new states. Here they are, these criteria :
- “respect for the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the commitments subscribed to in the Final Act of Helsinki and in the Charter of Paris, especially with regard to the rule of law, democracy and human rights;
- guarantees for the rights of ethnic and national groups and minorities in accordance with the commitments subscribed to in the framework of the CSCE;
- respect for the inviolability of all frontiers which can only be changed by peaceful means and by common agreement;
- acceptance of all relevant commitments with regard to disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation as well as to security and regional stability;
- commitment appropriate concerning to settle by agreement, including where by recourse to arbitration, all questions State succession and regional disputes.”
The Ministers also stressed that states resulting from aggression would not be recognized.
The Republic of Azerbaijan, among other former republics of the USSR, appeared in Alma-Ata on December 21, 1991 to confirm its compliance with the criteria presented by the European Council and to sign the relevant document on this – the Alma-Ata Declaration .. But it was no longer a “former union republic”, but was one that abandoned Azerbaijan SSR and was already the country that restored the ADR. Europe, scrupulous in legal matters, did not notice this uncertainty.
But not only in this was manifested Europe’s incomprehensible benevolence towards Baku. Indeed, a particularly difficult analysis was not required to establish the obvious fact that the Republic of Azerbaijan does not meet practically any of the criteria that Europe allegedly guided for the recognition of new states in the post-Soviet space. The illegitimate political formation, which continued the Sumgayit line of genocide of the autochthonous peoples, was considered worthy of recognition. At the same time, the Republic of Artsakh / NKR, all acts of which on sovereignty were irreproachable by the standards of international law and universal morality and which proclaimed independence in the territories that do not belong to the Republic of Azerbaijan, was ignored by the draft dismantling of the USSR by the Union republics. This became a sanction for Baku to continue the Sumgayit policy of genocide, which continues today with the blockade of Artsakh / NKR with Baku’s contemptuous disregard of the decisions of the International Court of Justice on the opening of the Lachin corridor .
As many as 30 years were not enough for the OSCE to find out the seemingly simple fact that, according to international law, Nagorno-Karabakh is not the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and that the principle of territorial integrity, which is legally misinterpreted and not related to it, is used by it as a tool for legitimizing the policy of territorial seizures and genocide of indigenous peoples.
But it’s a time for Europe, as an outpost of global democracy and justice, to see what Baku has set before it with cynical frankness!
 In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted 4 resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh: 822 (April 30, 1993), 853 (June 29, 1993), 874 (October 14, 1993), 884 (November 12, 1993). Chronologically, in the last of them, the Security Council called on “the Armenian government to use its influence in order to achieve compliance by the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan with resolutions 8822 (1993), 853 (1993) and 874 (1993)…”. The UN Security Council did not consider Armenia a party to the conflict, and resolution 884 clearly states this. List of Security Council resolutions adopted in 1993 – http://www.unorg/russian/docomen/seresol/res1993/res884.htm
 Declaration of the government of Soviet Azerbaijan on the renunciation of territorial claims to the Armenian SSR, published by N. Narimanov// Нагорный Карабах в международном праве и мироой политике. Документы и комментарий. Том I, M., 2008, с. 599. https://docs.cntd.ru/document/902002993
 Law of the USSR “On the procedure for resolving issues related to the withdrawal of a union republic from the USSR// Нагорный Карабах в международном праве и мировой политике. Документы и комментарий. Том I, M., 2008, с. 681.
 Act of a group of independent observers on the results of the referendum on the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Stepanakert, December 12, 1991// Нагорный Карабах в международном праве и мироой политике. Документы и комментарий. Том I, M., 2008, с. 712.
 РГАСПИ. ф. 64. оп. 1. д. 1. Л. 125
 Protocol No. 6 of the evening meeting of the Plenum of the Caucasus Bureau of the Central Committee of the RCP (B). 03.06.1921. РГАСПИ, ф.64, оп.1, д.1, л.76 об.
 Declaration of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On the restoration of the state independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan”. Newspaper “Bakinskiy rabochiy” («Бакинский рабочий»), September 3, 1991.
 Constitutional Law on State Independence of Republic of Azerbaijan. Newspaper “Bakinskiy rabochiy” («Бакинский рабочий»), November 7, 1991.
 Statement of the Twelve on the future status of Russia and other former republics// Дипломатической вестник. 1992 г.,N 1, с.48-49
 Decisions of the International Court of Justice are available at: