In an interview with Tert.am, political scientist Andrias Ghukasyan commented on the Astana meeting and said that it could not be a surprise for the Armenian delegation.
According to him, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan found himself in a deadlock. The Astana meeting debunked the myth that Serzh Sargsyan was forced to decide in favor of Armenia’s accession to the European Economic Union.
Mr Ghukasyan, what is the reason for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazabrayev reading out Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s letter, saying that Armenia can join the Eurasian Economic Council without Nagorno-Karabakh, similarly to its membership in the CIS. He thus put Armenia’s president in an awkward situation and conveyed the Azerbaijani president’s concern.
The fact is that Armenia cannot have international commitments or acquire any right to any territory outside its borders. And the fact is that no state or international organization has recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Armenia. Rather, as a result of this negotiation format the world views Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. This fact was expected to come to light at one of the stages of the process of Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union. This issue was discussed months ago, when Armenia applied for accession to the Customs Union. It was noted that Armenia could join the Customs Union within its boundaries. In this respect, President Nazarbayev confirmed the reality. I do not think it was a surprise for the Armenian delegation.
But does Russia form part of the Eurasian Economic Union within its internationally recognized boundaries?
Yes, Kazakhstan and Belarus recognized the Crimea annexation as Russia’s legal action.
That is, of importance is the recognition by the Eurasian Economic Union founding states?
Yes, because neither Russia nor Kazakhstan or Belarus did not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Armenia. Moreover, they consider Nagorno-Karabakh part of Azerbaijan. This problem was expected to arise at the discussion of Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union. And Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian could not fail to know what President Serzh Sargsyan would have to face.
What diplomatic solutions do you expect?
Serzh Sargsyan cannot recognize Nagorno-Karabakh because, as a political figure, he gave his consent to all the principles that imply Nagorno-Karabakh must be part of Azerbaijan and only after that get a right to self-determination. I do not see any solution for Serzh Sargsyan. He is in a deadlock.
Can Serzh Sargsyan decline the proposal to join the Eurasian Economic Union?
Not that he can. Rather, the Astana meeting debunked the myth that anyone had pressed Serzh Sargsyan. It showed that Armenia is of no political or economic interest to the Eurasian Union and that Serzh Sargsyan is not a political figure worthy of respect.
That is, Serzh Sargsyan’s counterparts did him a favor by showing why Armenia cannot join the Eurasian Union?
I do not think they did him a favor. The Armenian delegation’s aim was to conceal the problem. That is, the problem of Armenia’s borders. And the attempt obviously failed, which was not a pleasant experience for the Armenian delegation.
David Babayan, Spokesman for the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), expressed concerns over the fact Armenia can join the Eurasian Economic Union without Nagorno-Karabakh. On the other hand, Spokesman for Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tigran Balayan has stated once more that no customs border can be established between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Do not you see any contradiction?
If we take a realistic view of the matter, Armenia has a $4bn foreign debt now, with Nagorno-Karabakh’s debt being at least $1.5bn. Under the circumstances, when Nagorno-Karabakh’s debt to Armenia is so huge that it can hardly be paid off, the statement that a checkpoint does not matter for Nagorno-Karabakh is untrue. This is of paramount importance for us and a serious challenge for our people. Armenia is the only state giving loans to Nagorno-Karabakh at interest rates. All the other states granted money to Nagorno-Karabakh except for Armenia, which is giving loans at interest rates to prevent Nagorno-Karabakh’s independent economic and military development. And this reality is boomeranging now. We see that the Robert Kocharyan-Serzh Sargsyan model, which has been in effect for years, has caused great damage to our national interests. This challenge suggests the need for serious changes. All the relations between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh must be specified for the two states to cooperate as equal entities. This is not so now.
The recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh’s equal rights by Armenia is a task of paramount importance. Russia followed this course by recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Azerbaijani president will welcome the decision because it will absolve him of the responsibility to grant Nagorno-Karabakh the right to self-determination. But none of Azerbaijan’s political forces is ready for that. One thing is to recognize a fact, but quite another thing is to afford such an opportunity.