Genocidio Armenio


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lunes, 10 de marzo de 2014

"The situation in Crimea is different from the case of Nagorno Karabakh"

Prensa Armenia interviewed International Relations expert Khatchik Der Ghougassian, professor at the University of San Andrés and chairman of the Armenian National Committee of South America, about the situation in Crimea, the secession referendum that will be held on March 16 and the potential impact on the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

Is it possible that the crisis in Ukraine will generate a conflict between Russia on one side and the U.S. and the European Union on the other?

Much depends on Russia's reaction to the referendum in Crimea on 16 March. If Moscow decides to annex the peninsula or recognize their independence, it is likely that the U.S. and its European allies will react. A mobilization of NATO, as demanded by the "hawks" in Washington, is discarded, but it can be expected economic sanctions, confiscation of property, freezing of bank accounts and visa restrictions. The problem is that these sanctions, which generated considerable pressure on Iran to force Tehran to sign the interim nuclear agreement last November, could also hurt Europe because of the financial interdependence that the Russian capital has created since the fall of the Soviet Union. Although it repudiates Moscow actions, Europe, especially countries like Spain and Greece who are struggling to emerge from recession, needs investment and there is a lot of Russian money invested in property, football clubs and bank accounts. More importantly, there is a risk that these sanctions end up hurting the financial system and its own credibility.

Then Russia would end up winning the tug…

Russia has many advantages over the Western Allies no doubt, but it’s supposed "victory" will be pyrrhic. Not only because the sanctions would hurt its economy, which still depends primarily on natural resources export to international markets, but also because their intervention would generate distrust in other international actors such as China when looking for alternatives to the European markets. More importantly, it would generate a problem in Crimea because not only there are Russophiles secessionists there, but also Ukrainians loyal to Kiev and a strong minority of Tatars still resentful over the forced displacement imposed by Stalin when he accused them of collaborating with the Nazis in the World War II, and they don´t have much sympathy for Moscow. Crimean independence or annexation to Russia would create an explosive domestic situation between Russophiles and others, and could create difficulties with the prospect of intervention or threats of intervention. Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu just sent a message in this sense, ensuring the Tartars that Ankara would not stay with arms crossed if their Turkish compatriots ask for their help.

What impact will have the eventual referendum in Crimea and the prospect of secession from Ukraine on Nagorno Karabakh conflict in the Caucasus?

They are two different situations. In the Caucasus, Russia never gave the slightest sign of support for the recognition of the independence of Nagorno Karabakh. In contrast, during the conflict and then the war, Russia tried to maintain a balance between Armenians and Azeris: do not forget that the Soviet regime opposed the constitutional and peaceful Nagorno Karabakh demand of a change in their status, and when the Soviet Union was falling, far more weapons remained in the hands of Azeris than in the Armenian side. Only when Turkey threatened to intervene directly, Moscow stood firm in defense of its "close vicinity". Even today, and despite the fact that Armenia is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, signer of the Treaty on Collective Defense, strategic partner and recently joined the Customs Union, Russia continues to sell weapons to Azerbaijan. In Crimea, Russia used the argument of the defense of its fellow Russians, and it is becoming a dangerous doctrine of military intervention. Russia can’t use that argument in the case of Armenia, therefore prefers to have a factor of pressure to ensure that Yerevan doesn’t leave from its sphere of influence. When Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, pressured Armenia to follow those steps. Luckily, Yerevan remained firm and did not fall into the trap.

But the Crimean referendum is constitutional and it falls within the right to self-determination, as in the case of Nagorno Karabakh.

The Crimean referendum may be constitutional by the status of autonomy that it had on the Ukrainian territory. But in this case, the argument of exercising the right of self-determination serves to debase the very principle. The recklessness of some Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev that were tempted, for example, to impose the use of the Ukrainian language, or worse, ban the Russian as the first president of Georgia, Zviat Gamsajurtia stupidly did after the independence, could be a threat argument. There is little doubt that Moscow is behind the move of the Crimean referendum, which is using it for its own interests and power calculations. This exercise of the right of self-determination looks more like the referendum of the Kelpers in Malvinas in March last year than the exercise of the right of self-determination of Nagorno Karabakh in February 1988.

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