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Հինգշաբթի, 20 Նոյեմբերի 2014 03:25

The Russian Model of Problem Solving

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“You try to compare Crimea with Karabakh… I understand that Karabakh is a painful topic for Armenia... Crimea is historically a Russian land, for centuries we were one territory, and we have no fault in the fact that Khrushchev was drunk when he handed it to Ukraine.” This is how Nikolay Ryzhkov, member of the Russian Council of the Federation, answered an Armenian reporter’s question who had asked him why Russia could enter the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) together with Crimea, and Armenia couldn’t with Karabakh. Ryzhkov also mentioned that the population of Crimea willfully decided to join Russia and added that Nagorno-Karabakh could become a member of EEU only after clarifying its status.I don’t want to argue about the decision of the people of Crimea to join Russia. The subject of the discussion should be Ryzhkov’s statement about historical lands. He asked the reporters to avoid comparing the cases of Crimea and Karabakh, because Crimea has been historically Russian land. Although Ryhzkov didn’t continue his sentence, it could logically lead us to infer that Karabakh isn’t an Armenian historical land.A brief review of history shows that before 1783, when Crimea was conquered by Russian Empire, for more than three centuries (1449-1779) it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. This shows that according to Ryzhkov 300 years of ruling is enough to call Crimea a Russian historical land.Ryzhkov might be right, but according to historical undeniable facts at 189 BC Artaskh (Karabakh) was a province of the Kingdom of Armenia. A 7th-century Armenian geographer, Anania Shirakatsi, mentioned Artsakh as the 10th among the 15 provinces (nahangs) of Armenia. Some of the Armenian Princedoms such as Dizak and Khachen were located in Karabakh. Because of the five Armenian Melikdoms who ruled Karabakh during 16-17 centuries, it was the only Armenian territory which maintained its sovereignty and had internationally recognized status. In addition to these historical facts, the cultural and architectural monuments prove that Karabakh is more historically Armenian than Crimea could be Russian.Undoubtedly, Ryzhkov who is known as a pro-Armenian politician honored by the Armenian government with its highest medal of “National Hero” and just a few days ago was awarded by the Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II, might know such historical details. So, why did he make such a statement?For those who are familiar with the history and especially Russian colonial desires, the answer of this question will be very simple. The Russian model of problem-solving.According to this model, the right of nations to self-determination will be accepted only if it suits political interests. In 2008, Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia because doing so was in the interest of Russia. On the other hand, Russia rejected the independence of Kosovo, even though the population of Kosovo so desired.Russia recognized the results of the referendum in Crimea because it was in its interests, but considers Karabakh “a painful topic for Armenia,” not a historical land which belongs to Armenians. Karabakh declared its independence according to the right of nations to self-determination based on the results of a free referendum on December 10, 1991.Ryzhkov said that Karabakh could join the EEU, provided that it clarifies its status. By making a simple comparison between Crimea and Karabakh, we see out that because of over two decades of independent life, stable governance structures and institutes, and democratization, the status of Karabakh is more clarified than Crimea’s, unless in Russian political lexicon “clarification of status” would mean “be a part of Russia” or “Join Russia.” This is an intimidating concept which was declared by the Armenian writer Zori Balayan just a year ago. In his letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Balayan proposed to reclaim Russia’s authority over parts of the South Caucasus, including Nagorno Karabakh, which went from Persia (modern day Iran) to Russia according to the Gulistan Agreement. A few mounts later, Russian nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky made a statement about the necessity of making the Karabakh Republic a part of the Russian Federation.The continuity and intensification of the Ukraine conflict, recent political developments in Georgia (where the pro-European ministers left the government), and behind the curtain pressures of Russia for settling its troops in Karabakh, affirm that Russia does not limit its apetite to Ukraine. Conversely, for diverting the West’s concentration from Ukraine, Russia seems to extend conflicts to other areas. Being located in the south-western corner of the Russian sphere of influence, Armenia is a neighbor of Turkey which is considered as the south-eastern border of NATO. It seems that as Ukraine and Georgia, Armenia could be an appropriate area for Russia-West confrontation.The Armenian parliament will discuss the Treaty on Armenia’s Accession to the EEU on November 17-18. Except for the Heritage party, almost all other Armenian political parties support Armenia’s membership to the EEU, which means that in January 2015 Armenia will be a member of the EEU. Due to the current situation, it could be Armenia’s only choice. But a big question still remains which needs more clarification. What would be Karabakh’s status in the new circumstances?

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