EP Endorses Azerbaijan's Territorial Integrity, Gives Go-Ahead To Liberation Of Occupied By Armenia Territories

Farid Hajili Analysis 22 June 2020
EP Endorses Azerbaijan's Territorial Integrity, Gives Go-Ahead To Liberation Of Occupied By Armenia Territories

The European Parliament on 19 June adopted Resolution 2019/2209 (INI), entitled “European Parliament recommendation to the Council, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the Eastern Partnership, in the run-up to the June 2020 Summit.”

The resolution was prepared by Petras Auštrevičius (MEP, Lithuania), who was among one of the most serious critics of Azerbaijan over the past period, with the participation of co-rapporteurs Radosław Sikorski, Anna Fotyga (both former Polish foreign ministers), Attila Ara-Kovács (Hungary) and Markéta Gregorová (Czech Republic). This resolution containing a number of serious provisions that reflect the principled position of the European Union went down in history as one of the diplomatic victories of Azerbaijan.

According to AZERTAC, the preamble of the adopted document refers to the European Parliament Resolution 2009/2216 (INI) of 20 May 2010 on the need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus. We remember well that this date entered the history of Armenian diplomacy as ‘black day.’ The resolution (paragraphs 8 and 10) twice called the territories invaded by Armenian forces ‘occupied territories.’ One reference to that resolution a decade ago outlined the strict boundaries within which the European Parliament was to re-identify and reaffirm its attitude to the conflicts in the South Caucasus. We recall once again that this resolution expressed the European Parliament’s unequivocal support for the territorial integrity of the three states in the region, never once mentioning the “right to self-determination” manipulated by Armenia.

The new resolution of the European Parliament is a continuation of the series of diplomatic failures of Armenia. This document also contains no word about the “right to self-determination.” It should be noted that this was not easy at all.

The Armenian lobby, with the help of Cypriot and Greek MEPs, twice tried to include a saving word “self-determination” in the text of the resolution (the MEP did not realize that this could be a boomerang blow to them in the Cyprus issue).

Initially, the MEPs attempted to make an amendment to the wording of Resolution 2017/2130 (INI) (listing the three principles for resolving the conflict), which literally repeats. After failing, they desperately tried to include a simple text in the resolution with a reference to the 2017 resolution.

Moreover, the second attempt was cunningly made on Friday night before the vote in the Committee. They were hoping that after the end of the working week their colleagues would go home and no one would cancel the last-minute so-called “amendment.” However, the Committee members, already taught by the bitter experience of Armenia’s abuse of the goodwill gesture of Europeans, took a principled position and rejected the lobbyists’ tricks.

The value of the newly-adopted resolution is that it reflects a growing understanding by the world community of the inadmissibility of applying a differentiated approach to existing similar conflicts. Let’s recall how much we have always been disappointed, but the Armenians, on the contrary, have always been pleased when the support for territorial integrity was invariably expressed in relation to the conflicts in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, and when it came to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, it was stressed the importance of “support of the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group.”

This resolution is a clear sign that the world community has begun moving away from dualism in dealing with conflicts of a similar nature. Although Paragraph (b r) of the document refers to the support of the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group, it underscores the need to resolve the conflict on the basis of international legal norms law enshrined in the UN Charter and the 1975 Final Helsinki Act. What is the content of these norms and principles, especially the framework for their implementation in the matter of self-determination – let the Armenians turn to these documents. However, due to their silence on the existence of the Helsinki document, we have no doubt that they have studied the document carefully and are well aware of the criteria indicated in this document for the realization of the right of peoples to self-determination.

Let’s pay attention to the most interesting points of the resolution. For a full understanding of its essence, it is better to take a deep look at the document. So, paragraph M of the preamble requires special attention. As you can see, the paragraph consists of two parts. Indeed, this punctuation mark in that paragraph is very important and very unpleasant for Armenia because the punctuation mark semicolon (;) divides the line between the first and second parts of the item, sends a clear message that these two parts of the item should be considered both separately and in the general context. It underlines the necessity of examining the context of those two parts of the paragraph separately and generally.

Thus, the first part of the paragraph states that "the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Eastern Partnership countries are still undermined by unresolved regional conflicts, external aggression (!) and the ongoing occupation (!) of some of these countries…”, etc., up to the separation semicolon.

As you see, Armenia is not mentioned here. After separating semicolon, the second part of this paragraph of the preamble clarifies everything, giving Armenia the shameful status of the aggressor. The second part mentions the third country in a subtle way. Indeed, it hints that along with the country mentioned in the first part, it also speaks of Armenia: According to European parliamentarians, "in most of these conflicts (!)" a third country plays a "negative role". We do not name the third country here, especially since those who wish can clarify it for themselves from the text of the resolution.

For us, it is important that the second part of this paragraph of the preamble is not about "all these conflicts", but "the majority of these conflicts (!)". This is the very "devil" hiding in detail. If in all these conflicts, "external aggression" and "ongoing occupation" take place and "most of these conflicts" involve a third country (it turns out that "most of the conflicts" means conflicts in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia), then which unnamed "mysterious" country plays the role of foreign aggressor and occupant in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia? After all, Azerbaijan did not attack itself and did not occupy itself!

This paragraph contains another interesting point. Speaking about the negative consequences of external aggression and occupation, the European Parliament notes the "violation of human rights." It is very important. It recalls the ridiculous attempts of Armenian diplomacy to transfer the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict from the category of aggression of one country against another into the field of ... "human rights".

Today, not only Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, who is introducing himself as a representative of the new “pro-Western” team, is trying to give the conflict “a color of human rights,” Today, not only Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, who is positioning himself as a representative of the new “pro-Western” team, is trying to give the conflict a color, but his predecessor Edward Nalbandyan tried to speak in this vein in the past, for example, in an interview with Deutsche Welle correspondent Zhanna Nemtsova. By the way, the correspondent expressed genuine perplexity to the minister about his attempt to endow the human rights of the Armenian residents of Karabakh, completely forgetting the same rights of the Azerbaijani community.

Now we see how the new resolution of the European Parliament actually rejected the attempts of Yerevan “liberals” to speculate on the issue of human rights, hinting that aggression and occupation violate human rights, primarily of the victims of this occupation - refugees and internally displaced persons.

In one short preambular paragraph seriously hits Armenian positions!

Paragraph (b o) calls for an immediate withdrawal of foreign troops from all occupied territories. This paragraph applies to all the Eastern Partnership member countries in whose territory the occupying forces are deployed and, accordingly, to Azerbaijan, whose territories are occupied by Armenia. There are no exceptions! The occupation cannot be perpetuated, the occupied territories will have to be released!

Another new element in the resolution of the European Parliament is the European Union's support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Eastern Partnership countries “within internationally recognized borders” (paragraph b m).

The Armenian leadership still continues to deceive its people with the thesis that the support by the international community for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan “has no relation” to Nagorno-Karabakh, which “deceased” from Azerbaijan even before its independence, and, therefore, “Artsakh’s self-determination in no way violates the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan”, the territory of which, after gaining independence, allegedly “never included Karabakh.”

The resolution, clarifying exactly what the European Union puts in the concept of “territorial integrity”, rejects such speculation and puts an end to this issue. The EU, speaking of its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, implies this precisely within the internationally recognized borders, that is, together with the Nagorno-Karabakh region. And this is the very clear message of the European Parliament to Yerevan, and this is now reflected in Paragraph (b m) of the adopted resolution.

The “support [by the European Union] for [states] to fully enforce those principles” reflected in the same paragraph of the resolution can be considered the biggest sensation. 

But perhaps the biggest sensation is the "support [of the European Union] efforts of [states] to fully implement these principles" ("support their efforts to fully enforce those principles") contained in the same paragraph of the resolution. For the first time, the EU openly not only recognized the full right of states to enforce their sovereignty, territorial integrity within internationally recognized borders, but also supported these efforts!

This is also a clear signal to Yerevan which is speculating on the principle of the inadmissibility of the use of force, mentioned in the Helsinki Final Act. The fact that the international community, including the European Union and the OSCE Minsk Group, do not recognize the status quo in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict is natural, because it was the result of the illegal use of force. Therefore, the principle of the inadmissibility of the use of force and the threat of its use does not come into effect from the moment of the ceasefire in 1994, but before it was first used.

Thus, the support expressed by the European Union in the efforts of the countries suffering from occupation to enforce their territorial integrity is yet another message to Yerevan - the use of force has been illegal not since 1994, but since the first unauthorized crossing of the Armenian-Azerbaijani weapons by any kind state border. Paragraph (b o) emphasizes that if a party does not voluntarily retreat to the starting positions, that is, beyond the state border, then the country suffering from occupation has the right to ensure its territorial integrity by force, which is now recognized and supported by the EU.

This resolution of the European Parliament has become an expression of the consolidated position of the EU regarding the decades-long conflicts in the Eastern Partnership countries. This resolution has reflected the political atmosphere at Thursday’s summit of the Eastern Partnership countries. During the summit also joined by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the European Parliament expressed support for Azerbaijan’s fair position on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

This support was also expressed in the statement made a few hours before the start of the summit, by the former president of the European Council, President of the European People’s Party Donald Tusk. Having supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, the representatives elected from all over the EU, in fact, repeated President Ilham Aliyev’s historical phrase “Karabakh is Azerbaijan and exclamation mark.”