YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia warned Azerbaijan on Thursday against pushing through the United Nations General Assembly a fresh resolution that accuses Yerevan of occupying Azerbaijani territory and obstructing a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The draft resolution, which the General Assembly is expected to discuss on September 9, upholds the right of Azerbaijanis “expelled” from Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it to return to their homes. It also urges the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send a fact-finding mission to the conflict zone that would investigate the conflicting parties’ compliance with “international humanitarian law.”
Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the document, if adopted, would cause “serious damage” to international efforts to end the Karabakh conflict. Armenian diplomats are now trying to prevent its passage, Balayan said, adding that Yerevan continues to believe that no international bodies except the OSCE Minsk Group should get involved in the conflict’s resolution.
“There is no way it won’t pass,” said Aleksandr Arzumanian, an opposition leader who headed the Armenian mission at the UN in the early 1990s. “The General Assembly statutes are such that even if five countries vote for and all others abstain, a resolution is deemed adopted. In such cases, most countries usually abstain.”
This is what happened in March 2008 when the General Assembly backed a similar Azerbaijani-drafted resolution. It referred to Karabakh as an internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan and demanded an “immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani lands.”
Only 39 UN member states, most of them affiliated with Organization of Islamic Conference, voted for it, while over 150 other nations abstained or did not vote. The latter included the United States, Russia and France, the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group.
That resolution was touted as a “great diplomatic victory” by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. The Armenian government rejected it and accused Baku of seeking to derail the peace process.