Azerbaijan secured a first-ever seat on the council late on Monday after getting 155 votes in the 193-nation UN General Assembly. It will join Pakistan, Morocco, Guatemala and Togo as temporary members of the 15-nation council in January for a two-year term.
Slovenia and Azerbaijan along with Hungary were vying for a seat reserved for Eastern Europe. Azerbaijan’s victory was confirmed after Slovenia, dropped out of the race. Slovene Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar said his country “did not approve” of how the elections were held, although he failed to elaborate.
In a special statement issued on the occasion, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev hailed the development as a “great victory” for his nation. “The number of our friends around the world is growing,” he said.
Aliyev did not specify whether his government will use the Security Council seat to advance a Karabakh settlement desired by the Azerbaijani side.
U.S. -- Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov (C) during a contest with Slovenia for a fifth and final non-permanent, two-year seat on the Security Council, beginning in 2012, New York, 24Oct2011
In 2008, Baku pushed through the UN General Assembly a non-binding resolution that referred to Karabakh as an internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan and demanded an “immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces” from occupied Azerbaijani lands. The resolution was backed by 39 mostly Muslim states.
Armenia’s government, which is strongly opposed to any UN involvement in the Karabakh conflict mediation, did not officially react to Azerbaijan’s election to the Security Council as of Tuesday evening. But senior representatives of President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) did comment on the issue.
In a speech in the Armenian parliament, Eduard Sharmazanov, the chief HHK spokesman and a senior parliamentarian, said Baku won the council seat thanks to support from “Muslim and third-world countries.”
“This fact cannot have any serious influence on the resolution of the Artsakh (Karabakh) conflict because the countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group are permanent members of the Security Council and their views are in tune with Armenia’s position [on Karabakh,]” Sharmazanov said, referring to the United States, Russia and France.
The three mediating powers voted against the 2008 resolution on Karabakh at the General Assembly. They also convinced Baku to withdraw a similar draft resolution from the assembly agenda in September 2010.
Hovannes Sahakian, another HHK lawmaker, likewise told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that Baku cannot influence the Karabakh peace process through the council. He said that the Minsk Group will remain the main international body trying to end the conflict.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian appeared resigned to the Azerbaijani membership of the UN’s key decision-making body when he spoke at a news conference in Yerevan last month. He said it would run counter to the Security Council’s mission to promote international peace, pointing to Baku’s regular threats to end the Karabakh conflict by force.
“This will not add anything to the reputation of the Security Council,” Nalbandian said. “Quite the opposite.”