The West, Artsakh and Crimea

Recently the Eastern Partnership Summit took place in Riga, and a statement was adopted based on its results. There were numerous discussions and disagreements regarding the statement.

The main disagreements were related to Nagorno Karabagh, where the opposer was Azerbaijan, as well as Crimea, where the opposers were Armenia and Belarus.

As we know, it is not the first time for Armenia to oppose the statements about condemning the annexation of Crimea by Russia (it began with the vote at the UN General Assembly).

In fact, this is not surprising as the problem seems familiar to many people in Armenia and in Artsakh. People identify it with the Nagorno Karabagh issue.

Do Baku and Stepanakert Share the Same Opinion?

It is mostly Baku who views the Crimea and Karabagh issues as identical ones. Azerbaijan’s official position consists in that “if Artsakh had not been annexed from Azerbaijan, the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine wouldn’t have taken place either”.

And this identification is extremely advantageous to Azerbaijan as the whole West stands against the annexation of Crimea, while we cannot say the same about the independence of Artsakh.

In light of this situation, it is utterly surprising that festivities related to declaration of independence of Crimea took place in Artsakh and many officials announced that it was a precedent for Nagorno Karabagh. Let’s see what precedent they are referring to and to what extent Crimea and Artsakh issues are comparable.


We all remember how the Artsakh conflict was developing. It is not a secret that the independence of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh was declared on September 2, 1991 by the joint decision of Members of Parliament of Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast and Shahumyan region. It was later confirmed by the referendum of December 10.

However, the Soviet Union, and later Azerbaijan, from which the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh seceded, did not respect the right of self-determination of the Artsakh people and tried to solve the issue by means of force and arms. We Armenians had to take up arms and defend the rights of Artsakh people.

In contrast to Artsakh, the Crimea issue began with the intrusion of Russian troops, rather than the expression of will of the people there. After that, the local authorities changed in Crimea and announced about their intention to carry out an independence referendum. Two weeks after this announcement, the referendum took place with the presence of Russian troops, and Crimea was declared part of Russia.

Despite the boycott of the considerable portion of the population of Crimea (namely, Tatars-12%, Ukranians-30% and part of the Russians), the referendum recorded 83% of turnout. Moreover, some cities were so “willing” to be integrated to Russia that in some cases they recorded more than 120% of turnout.

And it is not surprising that such results are recorded under the Russian gunpoints because the same goes for national elections in Russia (including up to 146% of votes for Putin).

In contrast to the Armenian subdivisions in Artsakh, the Russian troops appeared in Crimea before the referendum (even before the decision on the referendum) and that is why the West considers that the events in Crimea are a simple example of occupation and do not have anything to do with the expression of will of the population.

Do We Need Such a Precedent?

Crimea passed from a more democratic Ukraine, which is on the way of European integration, to a less democratic Russia, where murders on ethnic grounds are abundant. As a result of this process, Russia was subjected to international pressure, it lost its place in the “G8”, fell under sanctions and was politically isolated.

Only Russia, North Korea, Venezuela and Syria recognized the independence of Crimea. Meanwhile, more than 45 countries declared that they do not recognize the referendum in Crimea. These countries include but are not limited to all the EU countries, USA, Canada, China, all the members of G8 except for Russia and all the members of the UN Security Council except for Russia.

The West applied sanctions against Russia, which had an extremely bad effect on the Russian economy.

We would hardly ever wish that the civilized world one day announced that it supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, applied sanctions against Armenia and considered Artsakh as an annexed territory.

Judging from the statements of European and American officials, the aforementioned does not take place because they clearly realize the differences that exist between the issues of Crimea and Nagorno Karabagh.

It would be logical if the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs took all the possible measures to make the international community clearly understand that the Artsakh conflict does not have any similarity with that of Crimea, instead of defending the annexation of Crimea.

Daniel Ioannisyan
“Union of Informed Citizens”

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