Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership welcomed on Thursday the referendum on Scotland’s independence from Britain as yet another triumph of peoples’ right to self-determination that has been championed by it in the conflict with Azerbaijan.
A spokesman for Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh president, praised the British government for allowing the Scots to decide whether they want to become an independent state or remain part of the United Kingdom.
“Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the main thing is how Great Britain has responded to such an aspiration. As we can see, [it has responded] in a very civilized way. I see no pressure on and no intimidation of Scots,” the official, Davit Babayan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
“True, the British authorities are urging Scots to remain part of Great Britain, but that is only natural,” he said as the people of Scotland went to the polls in what was expected to be a tight vote.
Babayan made clear that a Scottish vote for secession from Britain would prompt a positive reaction from Stepanakert. “We would naturally welcome such a decision, just as we did in all other cases [of secession,]” he said.
Ordinary Karabakh Armenians also made no secret of their sympathy for pro-independence Scots. “If they think they must secede, let them do that,” said one woman. “We became independent from Azerbaijan and that was the right thing.”
Another, male resident of Stepanakert said Scotland’s independence would set another “important precedent” for Karabakh. “We could use it for Karabakh’s international recognition,” he said.
Babayan agreed. “True, the situation in the case of Artsakh (Karabakh) is a bit different, first of all because we exercised self-determination long ago,” he said. “So this [vote] has no connection with our self-determination. But it could affect the process of [Karabakh’s] recognition.”
A Karabakh settlement currently favored by the United States, Russia and France seems to allow for such recognition. A framework peace accord drafted by the three mediating powers reportedly calls for a referendum in which Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population would be able to determine the disputed territory’s final status. The Armenian and Azerbaijani sides have for years disagreed on the date and other practical modalities of the proposed vote.