Author: Rasim MUSABAYOV, Member of Parliament, political scientist
In the middle of March, a certain Bako Sahakian, who calls himself a president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), or the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, visited the U.S. His program of visit included a show in one of the premises on the Capitol Hill with the participation of the functionaries of the local Armenian diaspora, some pro-Armenian congressmen, their assistants and few journalists. If this did not directly concern the painful issue of Karabakh, it is unlikely that anyone in our country, let alone the whole world, would pay attention and react to this event. However, considering that Armenian authorities and media have exaggerated the significance of this visit by all means, presenting it as a shift in the U.S. position on the Karabakh settlement and an important step towards the legitimization of the separatist formation, Baku replied with a tough diplomatic and information reaction.
U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Sekuta was invited to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, where he received a note of protest sent to the U.S. State Department. According to the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, Hikmet Hajiyev, Azerbaijan called for the United States to observe the norms of international law and to prevent any activities that violate the sovereignty of Azerbaijan. "This step of the United States seriously damages the negotiation process, serves to increase tensions in the region and damages the continued efforts to ensure peace and security. This is a serious blow against our relations with the U.S. in the eyes of the Azerbaijani people and public opinion. In response to this behaviour, the Republic of Azerbaijan will adequately rely on the principle of reciprocity," said Hajiyev.
Understanding extremely negative reaction of Azerbaijani public to the visit of the separatist leader of the Karabakh Armenians to Washington, the U.S. embassy to Baku released the following press statement: "Neither the U.S. nor other states, in particular Armenia, recognize the actual regime in Nagorno-Karabakh" . It was further noted that the U.S. supports the OSCE Minsk process and will continue to work to resolve the conflict on the basis of peace talks and the principles of the Helsinki Final Act: "territorial integrity and self-determination of peoples on the basis of equal rights".
Frankly speaking, this statement can be called unsuccessful because instead of removing tension, it gave rise to new questions. After all, the Azerbaijani protest was against the fact that the State Department allowed the entry of Bako Sahakian to the U.S. with his Armenian passport, whereas not only functionaries but even ordinary residents from similar separatist and unrecognized entities such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea, Donbass, and European countries are prohibited. Is this not an outrageous manifestation of double standards, when Washington appeals to the law and calls on everyone, including us, to respect international commitments but de facto does the opposite?
The U.S. Embassy to Baku absolutely inappropriately calls the administration of Karabakh Armenians "factual", which they interpret as de facto recognition of NKR. It is clear that this is an illusion but the willingness of certain circles in the U.S. to conduct a dialogue and to have some affairs with the puppet regime serving to cover Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan is unacceptable for the country mediating in the peaceful settlement of the conflict. By protesting the visit of Bako Sahakian to the U.S., Azerbaijan demonstrates that it is no longer going to put up with the policy of double standards. After all, while sanctions have been imposed on Abkhazia, South Ossetia, the Crimea and the Donbass, and any financial, economic, and transport ties have been banned, annual telethons are organized in the U.S. to raise funds to support separatist Nagorno-Karabakh. From 1998 to present, the U.S. Congress, under the pressure of Armenian lobbyists, has been raising funds to this illegal formation for demining activities and the implementation of humanitarian and social programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Unfortunately, not only the United States is carrying out the policy of double standards with respect to the Karabakh separatists. The same Bako Sahakian visited Brussels in October 2017, and Paris in November 2017, where he participated in dubious events organized by local Armenian diasporas and some pro-Armenian European parliamentarians. Bako Sahakian and his friends also appear in Russia, although there they try not to advertise too much, so as not to spoil relations with Baku. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly reacts to each such fact, warning that double standards will be reflected in bilateral relations on the basis of the principle of reciprocity.
Meanwhile, on March 25, the German police detained the former head of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who is wanted by the Supreme Court of Spain. Yes, Puigdemont is a separatist and violated the Spanish constitution by initiating a referendum on the independence of Catalonia. However, unlike Bako Sahakian, his hands are not blood-stained and he was not an organizer of ethnic cleansing. It is interesting if Western politicians, who love talking about international law, humanism, the supremacy of human rights, etc., can explain such an outrageous manifestation of double standards? Or does international law operate selectively? Then it means that the international law is worthless. After all, any law is respected only when it is universal.