Azerbaijan discusses legitimacy of Russian peacekeepers' presence in Karabakh
Azerbaijan discusses additional legal mechanisms in connection with the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh. Armenia is closely following these discussions while officials and experts in the two countries have very different views on this issue.
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Exactly 300 days have passed since the signing of the trilateral ceasefire agreement by the presidents of Russia, Azerbaijan, as well as the Prime Minister of Armenia. Immediately after the signing of this document, Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the part of Karabakh that remained under the control of Armenia.
Azerbaijani political scientists and experts have repeatedly stated over the past months that there is no legal basis for the presence of Russian military personnel in the internationally recognized territories of the country. It is indicated that the issue has not been ratified by the Azerbaijani parliament or addressed by the Azerbaijani legislative authorities.
What did Hikmet Hajiyev say?
The day before, the Azerbaijani authorities first spoke about this. In an interview with the BBC, Assistant to the President of the country Hikmet Hajiyev noted that at present “certain discussions are continuing on additional legal mechanisms in connection with the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers”.
According to Hajiyev, the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020 established a “political and, to a certain extent, legal framework” for the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to the territory of Azerbaijan.
“The whole of Karabakh is the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, the international community recognizes the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan and, according to a statement dated November 10, 2020, peacekeeping forces are temporarily deployed in a certain part of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan”, Hajiyev said.
“The main issue we are facing is working on the restoration, reconstruction of the territories liberated from the occupation. Over the past 30-40 years, no country in the world has faced such an issue on such a large scale”, the assistant to the President of Azerbaijan added.
Commentary from Baku
According to the Azerbaijani political observer Agshin Kerimov, with the statement of Hikmet Hajiyev, Azerbaijan in a diplomatic form expressed its dissatisfaction with the actions of the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh.
“At times, peacekeepers go beyond the functions and mandates that they were given by the November 10, 2020 statement. They seem to create additional service obligations for themselves and fulfill them, or try to fulfill them.
Baku is worried about these actions and has so far expressed its discontent in various forms.
Hikmet Hajiyev’s statement coincided with the protest of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry in connection with the placement of a tender announcement on the state portal of the Russian Federation regarding the provision of the necessary services to the Russian peacekeepers stationed in Karabakh. In that announcement, their place of deployment was indicated as “the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh”.
Apparently, this overflowed the patience of the Azerbaijani authorities and therefore they started talking about the legal aspects of the deployment of peacekeepers in order to show them their place” Kerimov said.
According to the observer, it is no coincidence that Hajiyev in his interview pointed out the temporary nature of the stay of Russian military personnel in Karabakh.
“Additional legal obligations of the peacekeepers, which official Baku spoke about, include specifying the types of actions of military personnel in Karabakh, as well as excluding the possibility of the peacekeeping contingent stimulating the actions of illegal Armenian armed formations on the territory of Azerbaijan.
Thus, Azerbaijan will bring the responsibilities of the Russian peacekeepers into the international legal framework. And this will speed up the solution of other issues that still remain open”, the expert concluded.
Commentary from Yerevan
According to political observer Hakob Badalyan, the President of Azerbaijan is most worried about the fact that the Russians can legitimize their military presence in NK by an agreement with the United States and France:
“The fact that Azerbaijan does not sign the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers has a legal, legal weight, but the efficiency of this legal weight depends on the actual political weight. And this decision could carry de facto political weight if the US and France reject the legitimacy of the Russian presence. But there are processes and signs that the trend is now the opposite. This is what worries Baku.
And then, whether the Russians wrote the NKR or not, it is not essential. They could have written, there could have been a technical error. For several weeks and even months, I have been talking about Baku’s concern about discussions among the three co-chairs”.
At the same time, Hakob Badalyan notes that Turkey, Azerbaijan’s main ally, may have significantly lost its “motivation” on the Karabakh issue and may not interfere with the agreement of the co-chairs, if it can receive certain “bonuses” instead of “non-interference”, including issues beyond the Caucasus:
“Turkey has achieved the solution of key issues for itself on the problems in the Caucasus through the war, it took Azerbaijan, established itself militarily and politically. At the same time, it is noticeable that Erdogan can “take a break” in a broad sense because the gap between economic potential and geopolitical ambitions is growing significantly. By the way, the recent statements about Armenia [about the normalization of relations] should also be considered in this context.
These realities worry Aliyev greatly because at some point they can manifest themselves so strongly as to cause serious problems within Azerbaijan – from the point of view of [maintaining] power. At the same time, Aliyev, who found himself in such a situation, should be the basis for Armenia to be more vigilant”.