Crimea’s secession from Ukraine and ongoing annexation to Russia has set a positive precedent for the resolution of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, authorities in the disputed territory declared on Tuesday.
The ethnic Armenian leadership of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) further underlined its positive reaction to the outcome of the weekend referendum in Crimea by organizing a concert in Stepanakert. Bako Sahakian, the NKR president, and other local dignitaries made a point of watching the live performance by folk ensembles together with hundreds of ordinary Karabakh Armenians in the town’s central square .
This contrasted with Armenia’s extremely cautious official position on the crisis in Ukraine. Official Yerevan has pointedly declined to accept or reject the referendum results so far.
Sahakian’s spokesman, Davit Babayan, said the Stepanakert concert was devoted to “all self-determined peoples, including the population of Crimea.” “If we welcomed [what happened in] Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and South Sudan, why shouldn’t we welcome this development as well? After all, it is strengthening the legal basis for our arguments,” he said.
Babayan downplayed the fact that unlike the Karabakh Armenians, Crimea’s mostly ethnic Russian residents voted for becoming part of Russia, rather than independence.
Earlier in the day, the four political groups holding seats in the Karabakh parliament said that the Crimean referendum, denounced as illegal by the United States and the European Union, set a “yet another precedent for realizing people’s right to self-determination.” “Thus, it was once again confirmed that in international law territorial integrity of states does not take precedence over free expression of people’s will,” they said in a joint statement.