Former Foreign Minister of Armenia (1998-2008) Vartan Oskanian shared his article with the media—and about the ongoing Azerbaijani blockade of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and the steps that need to be taken to reopen the Lachin Corridor which links Artsakh to Armenia. The article reads as follows, in particular:
“If Armenia, the Armenian people, Artsakh ever forcibly or voluntarily give up their inalienable right to self-determination and accept Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Artsakh, it will be a precedent in the world, which will earn us a low and humiliating assessment of the qualification of voluntary virtues of peoples.
It will also be sad that out of the more than four dozen people’s self-determination movements that exist today, the Artsakh self-determination movement has the strongest and most solid historical, legal, and political foundations.
Historically, the people of Artsakh have lived and survived in this area for thousands of years. Moreover, today the most Armenian of the territories inhabited by Armenians of our two states is Artsakh. During the history, when Armenia was subjected to the rule of different nations, Artsakh always kept at least its semi-independent status.
Legally, the foundations of Artsakh’s right to self-determination are simply invulnerable. The main prerequisites for claiming the right to self-determination have been fully met in the past and today.
The Armenians living in Karabakh are not a minority within Azerbaijan, but a people living on their historical soil, which during the Soviet Union period, after its collapse, and even more so, during the 44-day war [in 2020] and the latest [Azerbaijani] aggressions and blockades, were constantly subjected to the atrocities of Azerbaijan; in other words, all kinds of its rights were continuously violated. Ultimately, regardless of the fact that the people of Artsakh will never accept any status within Azerbaijan, Baku still refuses to offer them even some autonomous status within it. This one is exactly the violation in international law in which case any nation will have the right to declare its secession or self-determination.
Politically, Artsakh has a history of more than three decades of negotiations, during which at some point the international community—through the mouth of mediators—considered the free and unfettered expression of the will of the Artsakh people to be the optimal way to peacefully settle the issue.
What should be done today?
We must set two simple and modest goals before us: to resist and avoid signing any document that assumes that Artsakh is a part of Azerbaijan, and at the same time to consistently discuss and keep the imperative of the Artsakh people’s right to self-determination in the center of the international community’s attention.
The unfavorable situation created for us as a result of the 44-day war should be countered with the above historical, legal, and political circumstances favorable to us.
First, we are faced with the imperative of [re]opening the Lachine Corridor. No one will solve our problems for us—neither international organizations nor individual countries. Yes, effective diplomacy is needed in [re]opening the corridor. But the solution to the issue on the ground should be our own initiative. It should already be the result of a joint—somewhat bold—decision by the authorities of Armenia and Artsakh. This is simply the problem, the continuation or solution of which will be the beginning of greater losses at the expense of great concessions.
Secondly, Yerevan should declare that the residents of Artsakh are Armenians and it cannot be indifferent to their security issues.
Thirdly, Armenia should make it clear that the people of Artsakh will ultimately decide the fate of their status, as stipulated in the Madrid Principles document. And if the people of Artsakh will continue to strive for self-determination, Armenia will invest its political and diplomatic means to assist them in this matter.
This is the least that Armenia’s authorities should do. I say the least because it makes no sense to expect more. The authorities [of Armenia] have given up Artsakh as if for the ‘salvation’ of Armenia. This, of course, is a fallacy and is unacceptable. What I propose, at least, does not rule out and hinder the initiatives aimed at the self-determination of the people of Artsakh.”