A recent UN court ruling that upheld the legality of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia set an important precedent for the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, President Serzh Sarkisian insisted on Monday.
“For us, the Kosovo precedent is important in the sense that the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) clearly answered one question,” he said. “The question was: does a unilateral declaration of independence contradict international law or not? The answer was no, it doesn’t.”
Speaking after talks with Slovenia’s visiting President Danilo Turk, Sarkisian said although ethnic disputes around the world have their own specificities, solutions to them must be based on “the same principles.” He said the only major difference between the conflicts over Kosovo and Karabakh is that the Karabakh Armenians won de facto independence “without NATO’s support.”
“Nagorno-Karabakh is now patiently awaiting the moment when the international community will recognize its unilaterally declared independence,” Sarkisian told a joint news conference with Turk.
Turk, whose country has recognized Kosovo as an independent state, was more cautious in commenting on the ICJ ruling’s relevance to other disputes. “I think that one of the characteristics of that non-binding decision is that the court did not express itself on the issue of self-determination,” he said.
Despite repeatedly welcoming the ICJ judgment, Armenia has so far refrained from recognizing Kosovo’s independence, not least because Russia, its closest ally, is strongly opposed to that. Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian gave no indication that Yerevan may soon reconsider that stance when he met with his Kosovar counterpart, Skender Hyseni, in New York late last month.
Sarkisian also said on Monday that the Karabakh Armenians’ direct involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks, strongly opposed by Baku, is essential for Karabakh peace. “The conflict should be resolved by solely peaceful means, without use of force or threat of use of force, in the existing negotiating format and in strict compliance with international law,” he said. “And the sooner Karabakh fully joins negotiations, the more easily we could achieve the conflict’s resolution.”