Independence From Whom?

07.09.2019, Verified

Member of fact check team at Media Initiatives Center

 

Prime Minister Pashinyan congratulated Artsakh on Independence Day with a Facebook post and said that on September 2, Artsakh declared its independence from Soviet Azerbaijan. In the next sentence of his two-part congratulation, he praises the heroic people of Artsakh, the united and victorious Armenian people.

In their congratulatory messages in the past years, neither former Armenian President Robert Kocharian nor Serzh Sargsyan has made it clear as to from whom Artsakh had become independent. This is the first time that the First Face of the nation has made such a statement.

This congratulatory text was not unequivocally accepted. Moreover, it has become a rich occasion for criticisms of being ignorant of history, and accusations of flooding of the Azerbaijani mill.

What did they write?

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MP from the Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) faction Tigran Urikhanyan on his Facebook page suspected that the Prime Minister's Facebook page had been hacked and that the NSS ought to check it.

The deputy explained that the Republic of Artsakh was an autonomous region and declared its independence like other units of the Soviet Union, separating itself from the USSR. And he concluded: "I think cybersecurity units will prove the presence of malware on Pashinyan's Facebook page."

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RPA spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov made a historic excursion and declared, "It is a shame when a person holding the post of Armenian Prime Minister is unaware of the history of his people, and furthermore, distorts it."

Sharmaznov insisted that Artsakh's withdrawal from Soviet Azerbaijan did not occur on September 2, 1991, rather on July 12, 1988, when the Regional Council of People's Deputies of the Autonomous Autonomous Region of Nagorno-Karabakh decided to withdraw from the Soviet Union of Azerbaijan and proclaim the autonomous region of Nagorno Karabakh as the Armenian Autonomous Republic of Artsakh.

***

Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) MP Samvel Farmanyan made an extensive statement, describing Pashinyan's post as a bad dream. The former MP writes that throughout the negotiation process of Artsakh's proclamation and independence, the cornerstone and invincible assertion was that Artsakh proclaimed its independence in accordance with the letter of the USSR Constitution and Bill and obtained its independence on exactly the same legal basis and procedure as the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The former MP also insisted that we do not have legal justifications for the "Declaration of Independence of Artsakh from Soviet Azerbaijan" and that is exactly the logic that Azerbaijan has been insisting on for decades.

Farmanyan also thinks that, with this post, Pashinyan is delivering a great blow to the negotiating positions of the Armenian parties, and this idea can be used by Azerbaijan or mediators in the same negotiation process.

"I do not know whether our Foreign Ministry or the Prime Minister's Office has a package of arguments and developments that would prove the legal inviolability of the" Declaration of Independence of Artsakh from Soviet Azerbaijan," - Farmanyan wrote.

What do the documents say?

On September 2, 1991, a joint session of the Autonomous Region and the Shahumyan Regional Councils took place in Stepanakert, some parts of which are available on video.

On this day, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh's Declaration of Independence was adopted, the legal basis of which was the existing Constitution and laws of the USSR, which allowed autonomous formations and collective national groups to independently determine their state-legal status when leaving the USSR.

Later, on December 10, 1991, a referendum took place, which, according to the official website of the Artsakh Republic President, did so under continuous shelling,  and was attended by 82.2% of registered citizens. It is worth noting that the text on this site is written: "99.89% of voters voted for independence from Azerbaijan."

What does the Foreign Ministry say?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia agrees that the people of Artsakh have pursued their right to self-determination in accordance with the norms of international law and in accordance with the letter and spirit of the laws of the then USSR.

The Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan told Media.am: “There is an undeniable fact that Nagorno-Karabakh had never been part of an independent Azerbaijan. Armenia has always emphasized its approach to the priority of the right of the people of Artsakh to the right of self-determination in the process of the settlement of the conflict, "and she presented the historical realities:

  • On April 3, 1990, a new law was adopted in the USSR, which granted autonomous units of the Soviet republics and compact ethnic groups the right to freely determine their legal status in the event of their withdrawal from the USSR.

  • On August 30, 1991, Soviet Azerbaijan began the process of withdrawal from the USSR.  Three days later on September 2, Nagorno-Karabakh initiated a similar legal process by adopting a declaration of an independent republic, and on December 10, 1991, voted in favor of independence. 

  • Thus, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, two state formations were created in the territory of the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan: the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh and the Republic of Azerbaijan.

"The post written by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of Artsakh does not contain any problematic elements in legal and diplomatic terms and reflects the reality," said Anna Naghdalyan.

Arshaluys Barseghyan 

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