Armenian activists and international legal and policy experts met for a colloquium at the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS) on February 26-27 and a public event at the European Parliament on February 27 entitled “Remedial Secession in Theory and Practice.” Discussions focused on the state of Nagorno Karabakh and potential ways forward three decades after the campaign for its unification with Armenia generated a violent response from Azerbaijan.
The events co-organized by the Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights (ALC), the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) and the Tufenkian Foundation, and MEPs Michèle Rivasi (France) and Lars Adaktusson (Sweden), respectively, included Nagorno Karabakh’s deputy foreign minister Armine Aleksanyan, international law experts Alfred de Zayas and Paul Williams, international policy expert Sergey Markedonov, and Giro Manoyan of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
According to the EAFJD press release “the findings of the colloquium included the following:
– Nagorno Karabakh must be the primary subject and not the object of the peace process;
– Under well-established international legal precedents, people, including those in Nagorno Karabakh, have the right to declare independence;
– Under international law there is a duty not to respond with violence to a declaration of independence;
– Nagorno Karabakh is a functioning state based on the concept of earned sovereignty, since it has institutional capacity, a democratically elected government, control of its borders and a functioning civil society;
– International community should actively engage with Nagorno Karabakh regardless of its status;
– International law provides a framework, but by itself cannot serve as sole tool for resolving conflicts, one cannot ignore the role politics plays in a conflict resolution;
– Confidence-building is a key tool to peace and a final resolution;
– Escalation of armenophobic rhetoric and war-mongering [in Azerbaijan] are not acceptable and must be discouraged, incitement to violence and hatred is prohibited by international law.”