The National Assembly began debating on Tuesday a government bill that would allow Armenia’s government to sign agreements with unrecognized republics and Nagorno-Karabakh in particular.
Armenia’s existing law on international treaties allows Yerevan to forge formal links only with those entities that are internationally recognized as independent states.
Presenting a corresponding draft amendment to the law, Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian acknowledged that its main target is the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). “In this case, we are stating that … the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic can be a party to international treaties,” he said.
Armen Rustamian, the chairman of the parliament committee on foreign relations, likewise said Yerevan wants to be able to formalize its very close political, economic and military ties with the Armenian-populated disputed territory.
“Formalizing this in a law is also a step addressed to the international community,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “We are showing that we do not exclude forging an alliance with Karabakh at a certain moment.” Rustamian, who is a senior member of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, said that is why his committee supports the draft amendment.
The proposed change was rejected by representatives of Zharangutyun (Heritage), the other opposition party which is represented in the Armenian parliament. “The draft is not ready for being discussed at the National Assembly,” one of them, Larisa Alaverdian, told fellow lawmakers.
Zharangutyun has been pushing for the NKR’s official recognition by Armenia as an independent state. The National Assembly is expected to vote this month on a relevant bill drafted by Zharangutyun.
Leaders of the parliament’s pro-government majority have made clear that they will block its passage. Hamlet Harutiunian, a deputy from the ruling Republican Party reaffirmed this on Tuesday. “At this point, [Armenian] recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh would be more beneficial for Azerbaijan than Armenia,” he said.
Speaking at the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan last week, President Serzh Sarkisian said Yerevan will recognize the NKR if Azerbaijan tries to win back the disputed enclave and other Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it by force.