Azerbaijan Warns the International Community: 'Nagorno-Karabakh is Not Crimea'

Apr 15, 2014, 04:32 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

As the crisis in Crimea continues, Azerbaijan has warned the international community against judging the territorial crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions by the same criteria as Ukraine's.

Vice-president of EuroNest Parliamentary Assembly and member of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE Elkhan Suleymanov said Ukraine and Azerbaijan do have one key legal point in common: They have both suffered violations of territorial integrity under international law.

 "Last month in the United Nations, Azerbaijan voted for the resolution in favour of the territorial integrity of Ukraine," he said Monday.

"We have since asked that the same principles be actively applied to our occupied regions," he added, noting that Armenia has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory for more than two decades.  

But that, said Suleymanov, is where the similarities end. And he has warned the international community against concluding by extension that Crimea and Nagorno-Karabakh should be similarly judged under the principle of self-determination.

"In Crimea, all ethnic elements including Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars participated in the recent referendum," he said. "But any future voting under the guise of a plebiscite in Nagorno-Karabakh would only involve Armenians living in the occupied territories. Since Azerbaijanis were subject to ethnic cleansing and forced migration, Armenians constitute the only ethnic element in Nagorno-Karabakh today."

Suleymanov noted that the one million Azerbaijanis displaced by the Armenian invasion would thereby be deprived of a voice in any referendum.

He further reminded the international community that "according to international law, the right to self-determination is not applied to people who wage a war and commit violent actions, massacres, and genocide towards other nations and forceful division of states cannot be considered as legal."

With so much global attention now focused on Crimea after years of indifference, Azerbaijan says it is also time to stop dismissing the occupation in the south Caucasus as a so-called "forgotten conflict".

And with the IMF providing an $18 billion bailout package for beleaguered Ukraine, Suleymanov noted that while the Armenian occupation has cost his nation $431 billion, it is the moral damage that remains "unquantifiable".

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor