Armenian Question Today

This is a slightly expanded English version of the article, which was
first published in Armenian and
Russian in the `Sobesednik Armenii/Hayastani Zrutsakits’ weekly
(Yerevan), #1 (164), January 14, 2011.

ARMENIAN QUESTION TODAY

II. International Legal Level

For the earlier parts of this series,
see `Sobesednik Armenii/Hayastani Zrutsakits’, 2010 г., ?-
41 (159), ?- 45 (163)

2. The Case of Armenocide and Ethnic Cleansing In Azerbaijan
(1918-2010)

The first Republic of Armenia (1918-1920) had neither the time, nor
the possibility to conduct an open trial of the organizers and
perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. Despite that, the decision to
punish them was made during this short period, in October of 1919 and
precisely in Yerevan, at the IX Congress of ARF Dashnaktsutyun, the
ruling party at the time. In contrast the leadership of the “Third”
Republic of Armenia (1991 to present) ` absolutely failing to
comprehend the essence of the Armenian Question and pinning their
hopes on a speedy settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the
Turkish-Armenian conflicts via international mediation ` has simply
decided to discard the effective and available means for self-defense
and retribution, namely, the exclusive right of a sovereign state to
pursue national and international prosecution of the organizers and
perpetrators of Armenocide and ethnic cleansing in Azerbaijan that
partially took place during the existence of the “Third” republic.

Hopeless attempts by all three presidents of RoA to appease the
Armenian-hating regime in Baku and its patrons in Ankara have led only
to an acceleration of Azerbaijan’s comprehensive preparation for a new
war against Armenia, as well as intensification of the anti-Armenian
propaganda both within that country and internationally. Therefore at
present, much like before, it is possible to respond adequately to the
genocidal plans of the Azerbaijani state-sponsored fascism by
instigating legal proceedings against it, exposing it in the courtroom
and finding it guilty of Armenocide (genocide), starting from the
massacres of Armenians in the newly created Azerbaijani (Musavatist)
Republic, particularly in Baku (September 1918) and Shushi (March
1920), to ethnic cleansings in Nakhichevan (1918-1988), Sumgait,
Kirovabad, Baku again, then in Lowland and Mountainous (Nagorno)
Karabakh (1988- 1994). These proceedings should have been instituted
in Yerevan long ago, case by case and in their minute details, within
the framework of a special tribunal instituted in the Republic of
Armenia. Additionally, the relevant structures in RoA and Armenian
Diaspora should have been actively ` legally, financially, and
organizationally `

contributing to the initiation of a series of separate cases against
Armenocide and ethnic cleansing in Azerbaijan in the national courts
of foreign states by the exiled victims of these crimes, who are now
refugees in different parts of the world. All this remains undone, but
there can be no more delay, especially since Azerbaijan is preparing a
proactive international legal offensive of its own, based on
trumped-up fraudulent charges. Ð? special fact-finding team must
be urgently established by a competent investigative body in RoA,
which will take on all the work of collecting and analyzing the facts
of crimes against Armenians in Artsakh, Nakhichevan, districts and
towns of pre-Soviet, Soviet and post-Soviet Azerbaijan, and prepare
this vast case for legal proceedings. Nakhichevan is a special case,
since under the Treaty of Kars, Art. V., it is under the protectorate
of Azerbaijan, by agreement of Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, so
Armenia has even more standing to investigate and condemn Soviet and
Azerbaijani misrule of this predominantly Armenian territory and to
withdraw its consent to the protectorate on the grounds that
Azerbaijan has violated its duties under international law. An
auxiliary fact-finding team should be established in the
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). Finally, trials must be conducted, in
the RoA and NKR, based on the entire range of modern international
laws on crimes against humanity. In addition, international
world-class experts should be involved in preparing and conducting the
trial.

Defending the right of Armenians in Artsakh to self-determination and,
at the same time, omitting to give a legal assessment to Azerbaijan’s
crimes against humanity in a courtroom was a mistake that greatly
weakened the position of RoA and NKR on the diplomatic front. A
separate inquiry needs to be made into Azerbaijan’s failure to fulfill
its sovereign obligations toward the Armenian populations of NKR and
Nakhichevan throughout the Soviet era, in order to demonstrate that in
addition to its criminal record, Azerbaijan is unfit to act in any
sovereign capacity with respect to Armenian populations and
lands. Azerbaijan’s crimes against humanity must be prosecuted in a
court of law and at the state level, first of all in the independent
Republic of Armenia, regardless of any possible future international
proceedings and verdicts. If the independent Armenian state does not
endeavor to convict the organizers and perpetrators of massacres,
pogroms and forced deportations of its own countrymen, that is, it is
not trying to pursue legal means of defense against the genocidal
policies towards its own people, then serious questions arise
regarding the degree of sovereignty of this state, as well as on the
level of professionalism and system of values of its political elite.

A relatively fresh example of an acute deficit of political will and
international legal competence of the authorities of RoA transpired
when they failed to give an adequate response to Azerbaijan’s barbaric
anti-Armenian criminality, namely the murder of the Armenian officer
in Budapest in February of 2004 and the destruction in Julfa (in

Nakhijevan) of thousands of irreplaceable monuments of world cultural
heritage and Armenian medieval architecture ` cross-stones
(khachqars), the fact of their barbaric demolition caught on tape
during one of the regular episodes of vandalism in December of 2005.

Further, the injured party (Republic of Armenia) should have
categorized the crime in Budapest not simply as “aggravated murder”
based on unspecified “despicable motives,” as it was put by the
Budapest court under Article 166 of Hungarian Penal Code (and readily
accepted by the Armenian side), but as an act of state terrorism
motivated by racial hatred and prepared by Azeri special forces, with
the possible complicity of their Turkish counterparts (let us recall
that the murderer was a graduate of two Turkish elite military
schools: from 1992 to 1996 he studied in Istanbul Military College,
then from 1996 to 2000 in Turkish Military Academy). Only a month
after the murder of Gurgen Markaryan and long before the beginning of
the Budapest process, I proposed to demand the consideration of strong
evidence on the basis of which the offender could be indicted on these
very charges, stressing that the available evidence “provides a solid
ground to the Armenian party at the forthcoming court hearings in
Budapest to explore this version of the murder, implying a
premeditated and thoroughly planned action by the Azerbaijani special
services, in other words, making a case for a state crime” (see
, 03/29/2004; “Novoye Vremya”, 3/30/ 2004, in
Russian). The inadequacy of Budapest’s verdict, as well as the
impunity of Azerbaijani vandalism in Julfa are fully sufficient
reasons for separate trials to be conducted in Armenia and verdicts
handed down in absentia to the organizers and executors of these
crimes. On a related note, I would like to point out that RoA
authorities did not properly respond to these barbaric displays of
Armenophobia even on a purely political level, continuing their
meetings and negotiations with the fascist leaders of the Baku regime
as if nothing had happened, instead of — at least temporarily `
suspending all relations and contacts with them! Termination of
negotiations, necessary if only to maintain national and state
dignity, would have been, among other things, a powerful tool to
inform the international public opinion about the impossibility of
Artsakh’s return under the rule of Azerbaijan, which raised the
anti-Armenian racism to the level of state ideology.

Of course, trials in absentia are a relatively rare form of bringing
justice in international jurisprudence, because, occurring in the
absence of the accused, they limit the chances for his/her
defence. But such courts аre quite typical when it comes to
serious and very serious crimes, and, for whatever reason, the
perpetrators do not get caught or brought to justice. This was how in
1919 many of the leaders of Young Turks were sentenced in absentia by
the Military Tribunals in Istanbul. Also, numerous trials in absentia
of Nazi criminals have been held in various countries of the world. In
the years 2009-2010 alone, five individuals were convicted of Nazi war
crimes, three in absentia in Italy and two in Germany. Based on the
uniquely specific challenges of the national security of Armenia,
expressed principally in the ongoing genocidal policy against the
Armenian people, a lack of international legal assessment of this
policy, as well as the impunity of

its perpetrators, Turkey and Azerbaijan, the legislation of the
Republic of Armenia must be fundamentally reassessed both in terms of
punishment for crimes against humanity, and in terms of organizing and
conducting effective trials of such crimes.

Further, the materials of the trials in absentia held in Armenia
should be, in parts or in their entirety, be transferred to the
international courts, and, first of all, to the UN International Court
of Justice or a specially created International Tribunal in the Hague
on Armenocide and ethnic cleansing in Azerbaijan. Armenia will demand
a verdict against Azerbaijan for material and financial reparations,
moral, cultural and territorial compensation, and the return of the
occupied territories of RoA and NKR.

3. The Case of Ethnic Discrimination of Georgia’s Armenian Population
And the Rights of Armenians of Javakhk

It is high time that the protection of undermined national interests
and rights of Armenians in Georgia took the form of international
legal pressure on Georgian authorities. This applies especially to the
inherent right of Javakhk Armenians to self-rule and
administrative-cultural autonomy within Georgia. Numerous instances of
discriminatory policies of official Tbilisi in the linguistic,
cultural-educational, demographic, religious, and administrative
aspects of life of this Armenian region may serve as basis for Javakhk
Armenians to initiate legal proceedings in Georgia and in
international courts on their own. In the struggle for national
self-preservation, Javakhk Armenians are experiencing a critical
shortage of professional, financial and organizational resources. RoA
and organizations of the Armenian Diaspora must support Javakhk
Armenians in legal matters now, to avoid being forced to engage in
firefighting an open conflict in the near future or facing the fact of
`Nakhichevanization’ (de-Armenization) of this strategically important
territory. There are also opportunities for direct international legal
intervention of the Republic of Armenia to protect the rights and
interests of its compatriots in Javakhk. The basis for such pressure
on Georgian authorities can be the international treaties within the
framework of UN and the Council of Europe, signed and ratified by
Georgia, including (the years of accession by Georgia are given in
parenthesis) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1991), the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1994), the
Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of
National Minorities (2005), and so on. At the same time, it should be
noted that Javakhk Armenians are not a national minority in the
conventional sense, since they live in their homeland, the northern
part of the historical Armenian province of Gugark.

The loss of Javakhk, its de-Armenianization according to the
Nakhichevan scenario (moving along, by the way, at full speed) must be
excluded, or it would entail catastrophic complications in the
geostrategic situation of Armenia, comparable only to that of the loss
of Artsakh. Javakhk Armenians are completely within their rights to
proclaim autonomy without looking back at official Tbilisi, as well as
to bestow upon the Armenian the status of official language at the
regional level.

It is useful to note that there are recent precedents in Europe: for
example, on September 5th of 2009, a congress of representatives from
local governments in the Hungarian-populated Transylvanian region of
Romania, declared the establishment of Székely Land Autonomy (
“Székely” is the endonym for Transylvanian Hungarians). The
main decision of the participants in the second congress of this newly
formed Autonomy, held on March 12th of 2010, was to recognize the
Hungarian as the official language at the regional level. And although
the central government of Romania does not recognize the legality of
decisions for either of the two Hungarian congresses, the
self-organization of Transylvanian Hungarians through the
establishment of an autonomy and raising the status of the Hungarian
language substantially strengthened their position in Transylvania and
was a successful example of Hungary’s resolute policy to protect the
rights and interests of their compatriots abroad.

Armen AYVAZYAN
Doctor of Political Sciences

From: A. Papazian

www.defacto.am

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