Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership welcomed on Monday the disputed referendum on Crimea’s secession from Ukraine as “yet another manifestation of realization of peoples’ right of to self-determination.”
“The right of every people to choose its path of development and determine its destiny on its own through democratic expression of will, as it is enshrined in the UN Charter and a number of fundamental international documents, is a key principle of international law,” read a statement issued by the foreign ministry of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR).
“The experience of recent years, in particular the referendums envisaged in Catalonia and Scotland, prove that the recognition and realization of the inalienable right of people to self-determination is the most optimal and democratic way for the peaceful settlement of this kind of issues,” said the statement.
A spokesman for Bako Sahakian, the NKR president, drew parallels between the weekend vote in Crimea, an autonomous republic in Ukraine, and Karabakh’s de facto secession from Azerbaijan that was followed by a bloody war. “We exercised our right to self-determination in the same fashion,” Davit Babayan told Civilnet.am. “We held two such referendums in 1991 and 2006.”
Many politicians and pundits in Armenia dismiss such parallels, however. Some of them say that Crimea’s secession was initiated by Russia, rather than the mostly ethnic Russian population of the Black Sea region.
The outcomes of the Karabakh referendums were not formally recognized by any country, including Armenia. Still, successive governments in Yerevan have regarded Karabakh as a de facto independent state.
The Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination appears to have also been recognized by the United States, Russia and France -- the three powers spearheading long-running international efforts to end the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute. Different versions of the Basic Principles of a Karabakh settlement proposed by them since 2006 have reportedly envisaged that the disputed territory’s status would be determined by its population in a future referendum.