Debate around Azerbaijani attempts to vote a UN resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh

Recent Azerbaijan attempts to vote a UN resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh – despite the fact that the OSCE Minsk Group is the only internationally recognized forum to deal with this conflict – was largely commented in Armenia and Europe. The EuFoA press release on this subject was a part of this debate, and EuFoA Secretary General was interviewed by the Armenian media to further explain EuFoA’s position.

Taking into consideration the international community, particularly the Minsk Group co-chairs position, Azerbaijan has by now withdrawn the draft.

Below we provide you with Secretary General’s interviews in RFE/RL and Capital Daily.


Mediating Powers ‘Set To Oppose Pro-Azeri UN Resolution’


Belgium — Michael Kambeck, secretary general of Brussels-based European Friends of Armenia.
Irina Hovannisian
The United States, Russia and France will likely vote against a resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which Azerbaijan is trying to push through the UN General Assembly, a Brussels-based pro-Armenian organization said on Wednesday. The non-governmental group, European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA), said the draft resolution could derail a peaceful Karabakh settlement and urged all European Union member states to join the three mediating powers in opposing it.
The document, which the General Assembly is due to consider next week, upholds Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the unresolved dispute and the right of Azerbaijanis “expelled” from Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it to return to their homes. President Serzh Sarkisian said on Sunday that its approval by the assembly would be a “serious blunder” by Azerbaijan. The Armenian Foreign Ministry similarly warned last week that the resolution would cause “serious damage” to Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by Washington, Moscow and Paris.
“The Azerbaijani draft resolution to be discussed at the UN General Assembly on Thursday 9 September is expected to be voted against by the three Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group, France, Russia and the USA,” EuFoA said in a statement. “But according to EuFoA’s sources, a common response by all EU countries is not yet clear, despite the longstanding and clear EU support for the Minsk Group.”
“The UN is not the right level to discuss this question because there is only one international mandate to resolve this issue and it lies with the OSCE Minsk Group,” the EuFoA secretary general, Michael Kambeck, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.”This process has been going on for a long time,” he said. “It is very delicate, it is full of specific sensitivities, and the OSCE Minsk Group is doing a good job. I think we should first let them finish their job.”
“If Azerbaijan really thinks that this has come to a total end, then they should stop the negotiations and cancel everything. But they are not doing that,” added Kambeck.

The three nations co-chairing the Minsk Group made similar arguments when they voted against a similar non-binding resolution adopted by the UN assembly in March 2008. It was backed by 39 mainly Islamic states.
EuFoA statement warned that by capitalizing on Muslim support for its cause Azerbaijan risks adding a “religious component” to the Karabakh conflict. “This conflict has never been about religion, about Islam versus Christianity,” argued Kambeck. “This is an ethnic conflict, and if now we start adding a religious component to it, it will become even more difficult to resolve the whole conflict.”
Kambeck said the draft resolution is “dangerous” also because it overlooks other principles of international law that are at the heart of the mediators’ existing peace proposals. “This resolution is very single-sided,” he said. “You basically have only two options, as an international body. You either rewrite it completely, or you reject it, if you want to make it a balanced text.”EuFoA was set up in early 2009 by European parliamentarians and intellectuals to promote Armenia’s integration into European political and economic structures.




Minsk Group should push Azerbaijan to withdraw the draft resolution: Michael Kambeck


12:42 08.09.10

European Friends of Armenia (EuFoA), a Brussels-based NGO, has issued a call upon the EU countries to vote against the Azerbaijani initiative in the UN General Assembly over the Nagorno Karabakh issue but the position of not all EU countries on this issue is clear yet. In an exclusive interview with local Armenian business daily Capital EuFoA Secretary General Michael Kambeck explains why the EU must have a common stance on the Azerbaijani initiative in UN.


– Mr Kambeck, what European Friends of Armenia do to bring EU countries into a common position on this issue?

We issued this call precisely because of that reason. With this call, we alerted the EU capitals, their foreign ministries and their delegates in Brussels and also to the relevant decision makers at the EU level that they should look into this matter and co-ordinate their positions. The EU always strives to have a common opinion and co-ordinated actions at the UN level, but this works very well only for the bigger issues, like Iran, Afghanistan. Our call intended to point out how important this particular initiative is and why the EU should best respond with a common response. Let me add that still we cannot be sure that such a common approach is politically possible for 27 countries, but our message is very clear and at least the capitals now understand exactly what is at risk.

– Once the UN resolution is taken, Azerbaijan will continue trying to gain similar documents on other international forums, which is detrimental for the NK peace negotiations under the OSCE mandate. How do you believe the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries can encounter Azerbaijani initiatives to make it respect the current format of negotiations?

Azerbaijan cannot pursue these tactics forever. Each time they act in this way, they show that they are not really interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Their war threats add to this bad image and further weaken their negotiating position. Even if they gain something in a different forum, it will only hamper the process under the Minsk Group. I think that the OSCE Minsk Group should push Azerbaijan to withdraw the draft resolution. If Azerbaijan really wants to walk away from the Minsk Group-led negotiations, they will first lose all moral high ground and then see that the possible solutions to this conflict will anyway come back to something very similar to the Madrid Principles, including a binding free expression of will in Karabakh. The only thing that a change of the negotiating forum would bring is more uncertainty, more loss of time, and a higher risk of an outbreak of violence. This is in nobody’s interest.


– Baku and Belgrade believe they will gain each other’s support on any issue that concerns the principle of territorial integrity, as they are convinced the NK and Kosovo issues are similar from the point of international law. Is it worth for Armenia and organisations supporting Armenian cause to support viewing these two issues on similar platform?

NK and Kosovo have some points in common and many points which differentiate them. As is true for all conflict areas, there will have to be a specific political solution tailored to the needs of the population concerned and the political sensitivities. The Minsk Group is working on exactly such a solution. Only the basic principles apply to all conflicts: non-use of force, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination. Armenia is on the right track to support these three principles, while Azerbaijan until today only wants to apply one. Azerbaijan seems to forget that Russia, the USA and France or the EU will never accept any solution which is not based on all three principles, no matter what forum Azerbaijan would like to appeal to or who would lead peace negotiations.

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