Armenia take an umbrage at PABSEC

 Armenia take an umbrage at PABSEC

The 50th Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) was held in Kiev on November, 28-30, 2017, was marked by several scandals. First, Ukraine did not invite Russian parliamentarians to the PABSEC, and during the meeting the PABSEC President, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andrei Parubiy called on all other countries of the organization to rally against Russia.

Another demarche was arranged by the delegation of Armenia, which boycotted the 50th General Assembly because of the final declaration - the Armenian MPs did not like the item on recognition of the territorial integrity of the PABSEC member countries and the need to settle regional conflicts based on respect for their territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty. Nevertheless, the declaration was adopted.

The 21st paragraph of the declaration that provoked Yerevan's rejection,  says: "It is necessary to promote the restoration of the territorial integrity of the BSEC states recognized by international organizations, such as the UN, OSCE, PACE, EP, as illegally annexed," which de facto means, the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven Azerbaijani regions by the Armenian Armed Forces and the demand to deoccupy them.

The Armenian Parliament said that this paragraph violates such principles of international law as the non-use of force and the threat of force, territorial integrity and the right of peoples to free self-determination. The adoption of the declaration after the boycott was considered an insult in Yerevan, "not to just the Armenian delegation, but to all delegations and the general structure".

The director of the Institute of Political Studies Sergei Markov, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the declaration, anti-Russian in its nature, according to the plan of its authors in Kiev, turned out to be a document in support of Azerbaijan, which caused such a sharp reaction from the Armenian delegation. "The Azerbaijani side in every way emphasizes the principle of territorial integrity, because its application means the solution of the Nagorno Karabakh problem and strengthens Azerbaijan's international positions. For the same reason, mention of the principle of territorial integrity in international documents is unprofitable for Armenia," he said.

"In this struggle at the international political arena, most countries are on the side of Azerbaijan, because they are also concerned with ensuring their territorial integrity. Yerevan did this primarily because of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem, and for the same reason, Armenia's withdrawal from the PABSEC is unlikely: it needs to promote its point of view on any sites, and the potential exit from the organization would reduce Armenia's influence," Sergei Markov added.

He also stressed that the declaration of the 50th General Assembly of the PABSEC was not directed against Russia, although Kiev was drawing it up with this in mind. "Russia respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine and does not pretend to its territory. Crimea, according to the will of its people, is not part of Ukraine. There is now Ukraine as a normal state for today, and the duty of the entire world community is to protect Ukrainian citizens from the group of war criminals who terrorizes them," the director of the Institute of Political Studies drew attention.

The Associate Professor of the Department of International Security of the Faculty of World Politics of Moscow State University, Alexey Fenenko, in turn, pointed to the growth of scandals involving Armenian politicians in the international arena. "There are two explanations for this: the growing influence of the Karabakh clan inside Armenia and its economic difficulties." Starting a scandal in the PABSEC, Armenia unequivocally shows that it is not ready for any real dialogue on the Karabakh problem," he believes.

Alexei Fenenko explained that Armenia seeks to avoid dialogue on Karabakh in every possible way. "A compromise is necessary, but the Armenian side does not demonstrate readiness for a real dialogue on this topic. For Russia, Yerevan's complete withdrawal from a dialogue can be an unpleasant blow, as this will mean that Moscow has not coped with the Karabakh settlement process," the political scientist noted.

At the same time, Yerevan, boycotting the meeting in Kiev, could try to earn some political points in the eyes of Moscow, against which the final declaration of the PABSEC was directed. "Armenia is really trying to somehow smooth out the situation in connection with the initialing of the association agreement with the EU, because it was an open unfriendly act in relation to Russia," Alexei Fenenko said.

"Armenia pursues a dual policy, because it has not yet officially recognized Crimea as part of Russia, as there is no recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," the associate Professor of the Department of International Security of the Faculty of World Politics of Moscow State University stressed.

The political scientist Andrei Yepifantsev, in turn, noted the importance of any wordings in international documents. "Maybe the PABSEC declaration does not mean much for the members of the organization, but its wording are very important for international relations. When a country succeeds in regularly seeking the mention of its own wording in documents, it further strengthens its position. Armenia's desire to drag out its statement on the inadmissibility of sanctions of BSEC member countries against other member states is understandable, because Azerbaijan seeks to promote the idea of ​​possible sanctions against Yerevan. That is why they could not vote for the document with reference to respect for the territorial integrity of states," he stressed.

"In any territorial disputes, Armenia always takes the position of unrecognized states. Recently, there was a resolution on Catalonia, before that Armenia supported Russia's position in Crimea. This is because the policy of strengthening the positions of unrecognized states in the international arena is always beneficial for Karabakh," Andrey Epifantsev said

The expert also does not believe that Armenia will withdraw from the PABSEC after this scandal. "It is not profitable to leave the international organization for Armenia, especially as for the country that is in blockade and in need of very strong foreign support. For Azerbaijan, in turn, this declaration brought a certain positive," he concluded.