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March 13, 2008

ACNIS Examines Artsakh and the Kosovo Model

Yerevan—The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) today convened a foreign policy discussion to explore the recent precedent of international recognition of Kosovo's independence and whether this precedent can be applied in the case of Artsakh (Mountainous Karabagh). The meeting brought together leading analysts, policy specialists, public and political figures, and media representatives.

Welcoming the audience with opening remarks, ACNIS research coordinator Syuzanna Barseghian expressed the hope that this topic of broad public interest would be further developed with new and critical assessments. "Despite the often repeated statements that the case of Kosovo is exclusive, its independence could change many things in the methodology used toward other conflicts in the post-Soviet space, including Artsakh's juridical accomplishment of liberty and sovereignty," Barseghian said. "What does the aforesaid model promise for Armenia and the wider region? What stance should Armenia take? The mission of today's roundtable is to find comprehensive answers to these and many similar questions."

The day's first speaker was member of parliament Stepan Safarian, who gave clarifications on whether the Kosovo example really is a precedent or just another case of the "selective rule of law." In his view, the real precedent for a legal, constitutional declaration of decolonization and statehood is Artsakh itself, and all types of speculations that are made at various levels with respect to Kosovo are yet another indication of the application of geopolitics-driven double standards. "Sadly, Armenia not only is missing the Kosovo 'train,' but some of its officials are making fairly worrisome, if not dubious statements that Kosovo carries no precedential effect for Artsakh," Safarian noted. According to him, Armenia needs to take the initiative in developing a frame of mind and policy that because of a number of objective and subjective factors it is no longer possible for certain national entities—and Mountainous Karabagh in the first place—to return to their former status. "Tomorrow, March 14, the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the Armenian National Assembly will finally consider the draft legislation formally to recognize the Republic of Mountainous Karabagh," Safarian concluded.

In his intervention, Arman Melikian, Mountainous Karabagh Republic's former minister of foreign affairs, analyzed the Armenian position concerning whether or not to formally recognize Kosovo. In his view, first and foremost Armenia itself should recognize the independence of MKR. "Kosovo's example provides the perfect opportunity to adopt laws which also include the granting of Karabagh citizenship to hundreds of thousands of our compatriots who were expelled or otherwise emigrated from Azerbaijan," Melikian stated, emphasizing that it is impermissible to barter around the liberated territories. He also indicated that under the present conditions it is crucial to prove, with hard legal evidence, to the international community that Artsakh, with its national boundaries, democratic institutions, and all other internationally recognized standards, is truly an established sovereign state.

In his comparative review, chairman Shavarsh Kocharian of the National Democratic Party drew relevant parallels between Artsakh and Kosovo in terms of their actual readiness for independence. He underscored that the legal and historical bases for the declaration of Karabagh's independence are flawless. "Firstly, in contrast with Kosovo, whose borders are being guarded by international peacekeeping forces, Mountainous Karabagh is capable of defending its independence against any external aggression. Secondly, the system of national governance operates efficiently in Artsakh and its armed forces are under the command of its civilian authorities. And, thirdly, the matter of Karabagh's financial security has been resolved successfully," Kocharian maintained, adding that the situation is quite the opposite with respect to Kosovo as foreign donors have provided it three billion euros in aid. Still, the Armenian side, in Kocharian's view, was unable to make proper use of its advantages by unwittingly allowing a shift in the issue's vector toward a mere territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The policy roundtable concluded with an exchange of opinions and policy recommendations among Armenia's first Ombudswoman and Heritage MP Larisa Alaverdian; director Alexander Iskandarian of the Caucasus Media Institute; Yerevan State University lecturers Aram Harutiunian and Alexander Manasian; social psychologist Manoog Kaprielian; chairman Boris Navasardian of the Yerevan Press Club; ACNIS senior analyst Tatul Hakobian; political scientist Edward Antinian; analyst Sergey Shakariants; Ashot Khurshudian from the International Center for Human Development; Serbia's honorary consul and specialist of Serbian affairs Babken Simonian; and several others.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2008, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, democratic development, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am ; or visit www.acnis.am.


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