Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, which gathered in Lisbon on 19-20 November, 2010 to chart NATO’s future course, have included a clause in their Lisbon Summit Declaration on the conflicts in South Caucasus, which can be considered a defeat for Armenia’s foreign policy.
The new Strategic Concept, detailed in the declaration, that lays out NATO’s vision for the next decade, literally says the following:
With our vision of a Euro-Atlantic area at peace, the persistence of protracted regional conflicts in South Caucasus and the Republic of Moldova continues to be a matter of great concern for the Alliance. We urge all parties to engage constructively and with reinforced political will in peaceful conflict resolution, and to respect the current negotiation formats. We call on them all to avoid steps that undermine regional security and stability. We remain committed in our support of the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, and will also continue to support efforts towards a peaceful settlement of these regional conflicts, taking into account these principles.
In other words, the declaration says it supports “territorial integrity” of Azerbaijan and “peaceful settlement” of Karabakh conflict. No word on self-determination of Karabakh’s Armenian community which has been the main principle Armenian side has so far relied on.
As to the “existing formats” mentioned in the Lisbon Declaration, the main format of Karabakh Conflict’s resolution is the OSCE Minsk group which has 3 main mediators now: Russia, U.S.A. and France. The Minsk group has always backed 3 principles: self-determination, territorial integrity and self-determination in earlier statements. However, U.S.A. and France have signed under NATO’s latest declaration, so that either means contradiction or a change of policy.
At any rate, this declaration is certainly the worst news for Karabakh Armenians over the past several years. No wonder Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsian turned down the invitation to take part in a Lisbon meeting held in the sidelines of the NATO summit. Putting up the angry face and acting offended won’t help Sargsian’s administration, however. The opposition have already come up with critical statements, and I expect discussions on diplomatic defeat in Lisbon to continue till the end of the year.