Guest Post: Lisbon Then and Now: Who was determined enough to stand for Self Determination?

When I first read about the NATO Lisbon Summit, I immediately thought back to the 1996 OSCE Lisbon Summit. From what I remember, there were ongoing negotiations on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh for quite a while when the summit occurred. In the push for a permanent peace, there was significant pressure placed on the involved parties, both Armenia and Azerbaijan, to agree to a resolution.

I found much of this confirmed in the document available on the OSCE website, and numerous easily found news pieces from the web.

What did the Armenian delegation do when every single member state, over 50 I believe, voted for a resolution with the following three principles [taken verbatim from the document]:

  • territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Republic;
  • legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh defined in an agreement based on self-determination which confers on Nagorno-Karabakh the highest degree of self-rule within Azerbaijan;
  • guaranteed security for Nagorno-Karabakh and its whole population, including mutual obligations to ensure compliance by all the Parties with the provision of the settlement.

Armenia exercised its veto power, thus killing the resolution- a power not often used, especially by a smaller country against so many. Armenia made its own statement, and had it included in the document, explaining clearly and succinctly why the resolution was unacceptable to Armenia, and what other roads were already being followed and available to solve the conflict. Forcing status prematurely and excluding the principle of the right to self determination were not acceptable; external resolutions were not acceptable when negotiations were already taking place.

Opposition to the LTP government at the time jumped at the chance to call it a defeat. But what has Sargsyan done, when faced with a parallel situation? Not only did he not go, but his representatives, the representatives of Armenia, went and discussed not self determination, but Afghanistan, and only Afghanistan.

Where is the political maturity, the diplomacy in this? Go and make your voice heard – perhaps not at the summit itself, where Armenia is only an observer but not a member, but in the media and on the sidelines. Go ahead and question why NATO is even involving itself in this situation, when it is the OSCE who is purportedly dealing with it.

Why did this not happen? Was there pressure not to go, not to make their voices heard – if so, how did they end up in such a compromised situation? Does the regime even employ those who can articulate well enough to make a case? Who would have done the talking, Minister Edward Nalbandyan… or the now infamous Minister Seyran Ohanyan? Is Serge himself up to the task? Can he finally show that he (and his government) are able to argue cogently and convincingly as players in the international diplomatic arena?

Apparently not. But that should surprise no one.

PS: Many thanks to Ditord for posting my commentary, and for posting his original comments on the topic. Thanks, too, to Payqar’s comment, which paralleled my still-cooking thoughts.

About the Author

Tztizernak started blogging soon after the events of March 1, 2008, writing mainly on topics related to [the lack of] human rights and political prisoners in Armenia, and occasionally Diasporan issues…


7 thoughts on “Guest Post: Lisbon Then and Now: Who was determined enough to stand for Self Determination?

  1. Interestingly, I was forwarded this analysis from Civilitas Foundation at the very moment Tzitzernak sent me his guest post :))))

    There are striking similarities. I have yet to hear someone logically argue against these points.

    Who Boycotts NATO?

    President Serj Sargsyan’s failure to go to Lisbon was an additional foreign policy blunder and an involuntary sign that Armenia’s diplomacy has accepted defeat. Acting upset and boycotting the NATO summit will not bring Armenia any diplomatic dividends. The practitioners of Armenia’s foreign policy should have done their best to avoid an unacceptable statement on Nagorno-Karabakh. Even if that was not possible, President Sargsyan should have gone to the capital of Portugal and used that high forum to raise issues of Armenian concern, just as our two neighbors did.

    Read more here:

  2. Two additional reasons why boycotting was such a blunder: The Obama Administration’s foreign policy philosophy is grounded in the principle of “we talk to everybody: even Iran, even North Korea”. One can argue about the success of their approach, but Armenia’s boycotting an important conference and not using the opportunity to have its stance clearly articulated will not win diplomatic points in Washington.

    Secondly, for Sargsyan to have traveled to Moscow immediately before making the decision cements the international impression that the Armenian government is at the service of the Kremlin. Puppets don’t win friends or influence people, and without petrochemicals to offer, Armenia’s position is easy to disregard, particularly when it decides to make itself invisible.

  3. I do not share opinions in the paper and civilitas comments. For one reason. The statement by NATO was intended against Russian interference in Moldova and Georgia. Armenia appeared there just by chance.

    So many countries before stated their support for Azerbaijan territorial integrity. It depends what understand as such. There is a common attitude that territorial integrity should be aupported.

    At the same time there exists a legal dispute, that Karabakh independency was according to USSR rules, and the issue is not about territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, but about the territory on which this integrity is understood and claimed.

    So, the Armenian foriegn policy should not be againt the principle respected by many countries, but about the applicability of it to the territory of Karabakh.

    I hope this is understood and being pursued by Armenia

  4. Its not black and white people. Understandably, the foriegn policy may have some weaknesses, but there should be some respect to the government. Its not possible to make happy all armenians on everything, but just be a bit moderate. Most of the critisizers comment on the topics they are not aware about. I understand Vartan Oskanian, and his point – he has a right to comment, but I dont understand strangers commenting in ultimative language the policy of the President. Good or bad – he is a chief commander, and as long as he is there, one should expect a bit more respect from the bloggers

Comments are closed.