July 24th, 2019
International Relations and Nagorno-Karabakh
During our latest visit to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, we had the opportunity to meet with various officials including the UK Ambassador to Armenia as well as the President and Foreign Minister of the Republic of Artsakh (Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh). These meetings gave us an important perspective on matters of international relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.
UK- Armenia Relations
Meeting with Judith Farnworth, the British Ambassador to Armenia, we were informed of tension between the new Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Nagorno-Karabakh, who was close to the old regime in Armenia which fell in April 2018 following the Velvet Revolution.
We learnt that the work of the British embassy in Yerevan was growing, having appointed a third British staff member, now boosting co-operation on trade and investment. The embassy now promotes mental health support for people traumatised by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Mrs Farnworth thought that the negotiations promoted by the Minsk Group were not about territory, but dignity and self-respect instead, highlighting that ‘sequencing’ moves was the key to improving relations. She suggested confidence-building measures, such as an exchange of journalists.
When questioned about international recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh, Mrs. Farnworth replied that: “The United Kingdom does not recognise Nagorno-Karabakh. Full Stop.”
“We are helping Armenia to help itself and we respect its multi-vector approach to international relations.” – UK Ambassador to Armenia
Meeting with Nagorno-Karabakh Officials
Foreign Minister, Masik Mayilian was relieved to tell us that the conflict with Azerbaijan had gone through a quiet phase between September 2018 and June 2018. Sadly, an Azeri soldier was killed on 1st June 2019, and a second only a few days later. The Azeris responded with grenade launches and 62mm artillery.
Nagorno-Karabakh was willing to accept international monitors along the conflict line and to report violations of the ceasefire agreements. Mr Mayilian informed us that Azerbaijan was opposed to such monitoring. Mr Mayilian told us that the Azeris are building up troops in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan, and were conducting joint military exercises there with Turkey. Nakhichevan borders one of the main strategic roads linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.
The Azeris, he said, were continuing to grow their arsenal of modern weaponry, buying mainly from Israel, but also Russia, Turkey and Pakistan.
Mr Mayilian introduced the concept of ‘remedial recognition’ – an international recognition which would solve many of the intractable challenges which Nagorno-Karabakh is currently facing. Besides Armenia, he did not identify any particular country which was close to making such a recognition. His assessment was that the EU, Russia and the United States were working together on the basis of consensus.
Finally, the Foreign Minister acknowledged that in reality, Russia was the only country with the power to halt a war between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, should one tragically flare up again.
“I would like to send a new message to the world that we are not isolated. The fact that we are not recognised is I think temporary; recognition is the essential precondition for security.” –Foreign Minister of Nagorno-Karabakh
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