Friday, July 30, 2010

Kosovo and Karabakh

Unsurprisingly, the International Court of Justice's ruling in favor of Kosovo's declaration of independence is being well received in Karabakh:
"Authorities in Armenia and Karabakh have reacted very positively to the July 22 decision by the highest UN court to uphold the legality of Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. They say it strengthens the Armenian case for international recognition of Karabakh’s de facto secession from Azerbaijan. One apparent implication of this is that they will now be even less likely to agree to the disputed region’s return under Azeri rule...

"Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister, Shavarsh Kocharian, welcomed the ruling as 'truly unprecedented' just hours after its announcement. He said the ICJ ruled that the principle of peoples’ self-determination, championed by the Armenian side, should take precedence over territorial integrity in the resolution of other ethnic or territorial disputes (Armenian Public Television, July 22)...

"Azerbaijan’s reaction to the development was predictably different. Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Elkhan Polukhov, was quoted by the Trend news agency as saying that the ICJ cannot have any implications for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. The US State Department agreed, saying that the ICJ’s advisory verdict is based on 'unique facts specific to Kosovo. We do not see that this ruling and these facts apply to other cases,' department spokesman Philip Crowley told a daily news briefing in Washington (, July 22)."

Simply put, what the ICJ said is that Kosovo could unilaterally declare independence. This ruling carefully did not state that it was, in fact, independent, which depends on international recognition, and some uncertain grounds the court said the Kosovo decision should not be interpreted as a precedent for other regions. The situation actually seems to support my sense that international law doesn't matter that much, and the international order can easily be adapted to the actions of great powers. At the same time, the fact it can provide popular legitimacy to certain schools of thought may mean that public opinion in Armenia and Karabakh will become even more solid in favor of eventual independence, affecting leaders' negotiating position.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home