STEPANAKERT (Realist English). At the time of signing the Alma-Ata Declaration, Artsakh was not part of Azerbaijan. About this in an interview with the News.am correspondent the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh David Babayan said.
“When we talk about the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict and mention the Alma-Ata Declaration, many for some reason believe that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is recognized there within the borders of the AzSSR or with the mention of Nagorno-Karabakh. That’s not so. The declaration states “recognizing and respecting each other’s territorial integrity and the inviolability of existing borders.” At the time of signing the Alma-Ata Declaration – on December 21, 1991 – Artsakh was not part of Azerbaijan. On September 2, 1991, the Republic of Artsakh, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, was proclaimed by way of reuniting the former NKAO, Shahumyan district and Getashensky subdistrict.
On December 10, 1991, the referendum was held in strict accordance with the norms of international law and Soviet legislation, at which the overwhelming majority of NKR citizens voted for the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. By the way, Azerbaijanis who lived in the republic at that time also participated in this process. They were given ballots, the ballots were in Armenian, Russian and Azerbaijani. True, they did not vote, but it did not change the result. Non—participation in voting is the right of citizens.
Therefore, when we talk about the Alma-Ata Declaration, it is necessary to present a complete picture. At that time, Artsakh was not part of Azerbaijan. Since 1988, it has been de facto outside Azerbaijan’s control. In 1991 – already de jure.
By the way, the NKAO in the USSR was the only administrative-territorial entity, autonomous, which was withdrawn from the Union Republic and subordinated to the Center. I’m talking about the Volsky Committee. In addition, the Constitutional Supervision Committee of the USSR considered illegitimate and actually annulled the decision of the Supreme Council of the AzSSR on the abolition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region. The same committee did not consider the proclamation of the NKR and the referendum to be illegitimate. In international law, the correct interpretation of documents is very important.
In addition, it should be remembered that Azerbaijan joined the Alma-Ata Declaration belatedly. By the time Azerbaijan joined the declaration in 1993, the war was in full swing. At that time there were slightly different boundaries. By and large, if we project the declaration to 1993, Azerbaijan did not de facto control a number of other regions,” David Babayan said.
In his telegram channel, the chief diplomat of Artsakh stressed that “the settlement of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including the resolution of the issue of borders between the two countries, cannot and should not be tied to the status of the Republic of Artsakh”:
“The territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan has nothing to do with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and its status, which was determined by the people of our country in full and strict accordance with the norms and principles of international law and the Soviet legislation in force at that time.”
According to Babayan, “official Stepanakert welcomes any steps aimed at a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, as well as the establishment of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” In turn, the diplomat reminded, the position of the people and authorities of Artsakh remains unchanged.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “the Alma-Ata Declaration on the creation of the CIS clearly states that the borders between the new states will be based on the borders between the union republics of the former USSR, where the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region is clearly part of the Azerbaijani SSR”.