It will be recognized in the case of a wide-scale war, when there is nothing more to lose" />

Will Armenia recognize Karabakh

It will be recognized in the case of a wide-scale war, when there is nothing more to lose


Interview with Alexander Iskandaryan,

a political analyst, Director of the Caucasus Institute

A bill on the recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh may be passed when there is no more hope for the negotiation process.

The very format of the talks within the OSCE Minsk Group framework suggests that the final determination of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status should be the final point, rather than the initial point, of the negotiation process.

While the negotiations are underway, the non-recognition of Karabakh by Armenia is a sort of concession, indicating that negotiations are possible.  If Armenia recognizes Karabakh today, there will be nothing to negotiate.  The talks will either freeze or will be ceased completely, which would bring about a war.

Armenia’s recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh at this stage will mean the halt of any possible attempts to continue political action, supported by Armenia.  It will be recognized in the case of a wide-scale war, when there is nothing more to lose.


The OSCE Minsk Group is older than the truce, since it has been working since 1992, whereas the truce was made in 1994. Theoretically, one can imagine it operating even after Armenia’s recognition of the NKR.  Yet, it could be hardly imagined from a political point of view.

Armenia longs for the continuation of political action, rather than military action.  Consequently, it’s hard to believe that the bill on the recognition of Karabakh independence will be passed in the Parliament and subsequently be signed by country’s president.


The acknowledgement of Karabakh’s independence is not an end in itself;  other countries can also make such a decision even without Armenia doing so.  There are countries that trade on these kinds of acknowledgements, and it’s not that expensive.

There are countries that are remote from our region, where there is a huge Armenian community.  One can work with these countries to achieve the recognition of NKR independence, but it’s unlikely to change anything.  Northern Cyprus is a state that was recognized in this manner, recognized by Turkey.

In legal terms, if Karabakh will go from a non-recognized into a partially recognized state, there still won’t be any serious changes.

To make things really change, it’s Azerbaijan, not Armenia, that should recognize Karabakh.  However, Azerbaijan will not recognize it, and that’s clear to everyone.  Yet, I wouldn’t claim that it will ‘never’ recognize it.

Another example is Kosovo. Based on this example, if the NKR is not recognized by Azerbaijan, but is recognized a world power, such as the USA, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Russia etc., and there will be many that will acknowledge it, this will, in turn, change the situation.  However, it is hardly possible to achieve that, at least now, because they have their own interests elsewhere.

Many cite as an example Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  But in these case the important thing is not the fact that they have been recognized, but rather who has recognized them.  Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia using military and political means, as it is a super power, a country which possesses and a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

In the case of Karabakh, it would be Armenia who would would assume Russia’s role. Being on the same playing field as Azerbaijan, it makes these two situations different from each other.

Photo: Photolure

Azerbaijan’s legitimacy for Nagorno-Karabakh is based on the it being a part of the Azerbaijan SSR for 70 years.  Karabakh has not been a part of Azerbaijan for 25 years by now.  One can only assume what will happen in 50 years, when these 70 years will have passed in a different political climate.

At least there will be a different political, diplomatic and psychological situation then.  Every country in the world was created as separate from others.  Many of them fought for this right for a long time; others got it relatively quickly.  I can’t allow myself to candidly say the word ‘never.’

The political reality is changing.  If back in, let’s say, 1952, someone had been asked what would happen in the Soviet Union in 50 years and he would start talking about Karabakh, everyone would have considered that man crazy.

For Karabakh to be recognized by the international community, it should build its own state; that’s what it actually is doing, but it is a lengthy process. For example, Taiwan, a politically and economically successful country, has been recognized by less than 30 countries from 1949 until present.

A state is not formed merely by recognition.  Building one’s statehood is the path that one has to take, not expecting that it could be acknowledged tomorrow.

The opinions, expressed in the article, convey the author’s terminology and views and do not necessarily reflect the position of the editorial staff.

Published: 07.05.2016

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