U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights set an important precedent which could benefit Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in the conflict with Azerbaijan, a senior Karabakh official said on Wednesday.
Trump signed a relevant proclamation at the White House on Monday in the presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said United States should have recognized Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights "decades ago."
Israel captured the rocky plateau in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally.
Trump’s decision has been condemned Syria, other Arab nations as well Turkey, Russia and Iran. Armenia, which maintains a cordial relationship with Syria, has not yet officially reacted to it.
A top aide to Bako Sahakian, the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, was encouraged by the “fundamental development.”
“President Trump substantiated his decision with the notion that the Golan Heights are critical for Israel’s security,” the official, Davit Babayan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
“There is no reference to historical other issues,” said Babayan. “There is only the security context. In this sense, the Golan Heights are almost as significant for Israel as the Karvachar (Kelbajar) district is for Artsakh (Karabakh) and the Republic of Armenia.”
“We must use that as a precedent and show [the international community] that we are in the same situation … This seems like a gift which we have gotten without having done anything. In my view, failure to utilize it would be a crime,” he added.
Kelbajar, which is sandwiched between Armenia and the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, is one of the seven districts in Azerbaijan proper that were fully or partly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war.
A framework peace accord advanced by international mediators for the past decade calls for Armenian withdrawal from virtually all of those districts. In return, Karabakh’s predominantly ethnic Armenian population would be able to determine Karabakh’s internationally recognized status in a future referendum.
The U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group reaffirmed this peace formula in their most recent joint statement issued on March 9. They said it “must be the foundation of any fair and lasting settlement to the conflict.”