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  5. Memmed Ismayilov: 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire Agreement and Its Violations’ Possible Consequences Introduction

Memmed Ismayilov: 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire Agreement and Its Violations’ Possible Consequences Introduction

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The Second Karabakh War, which started on September 27, 2020, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, ended on November 9, 2020, with the “Ceasefire” Agreement signed with the mediation of Russia. As a result of this War, Azerbaijan established its sovereignty in most of the Armenian-occupied regions. However, in some areas which belong to Azerbaijan according to international law and relevant resolutions, Armenian forces still exist.
After the War, a diplomatic process has been initiating by Azerbaijan to ensure lasting peace. By avoiding conflict, Azerbaijan is endeavouring to ensure its sovereignty in the whole of Karabakh within the framework of international law and by getting to diplomacy process.
However, the ongoing violation of some articles of the Ceasefire Agreement, which mentioned below, strengthens the possibility of a new war in the region. Therefore, in order to ensure lasting peace in the area, the parties must enforce their obligations arising from the Ceasefire Agreement
In this regard, the current international law rules implemented to this concrete case in below, and, examined violated provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement.
Relevant International Law Rules
According to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969, the most fundamental and first principle in the implementation of international treaties is the principle of “Pacta Sunt Servanda “. Accordingly, by avoiding actions and transactions contrary to the purpose of the agreement, the parties have to fulfill their obligations arising from the agreement with good faith.
Violation of this principle provides the parties with the opportunity to withdraw from the treaty or terminate the treaty. That’s why, states are responsible for acting in good faith while implementing the agreements they are party to.
In bilateral treaties, one of the parties violates one of the fundamental provisions of the treaty may lead to the other party having the right to terminate the treaty regardless of any legal obligation. In multilateral treaties, withdrawal from the treaty could be but the treaty ends for the withdrawing party merely.
Violated Treaty Provisions
Ceasefire agreements could only break up the conflicts by their nature. In this regard, the Ceasefire Agreement signed by Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia on 9 November 2020 had been only stopped the conflict between the parties. In this respect, not implementing the provisions of the Ceasefire Agreement also increase the possibility of a new war.
The first controversy with respect to this Treaty emerges from the 1st sentence of Article 4 of the Ceasefire Agreement. According to the relevant provision of the Ceasefire Agreement;
“The peacekeeping force of the Russian Federation is deployed simultaneously with the removal of the Armenian armed forces”.
The phrase “deploy” is related to the Lachin road and some Karabakh areas. Because armed Armenian forces still exist in these regions. In this sense, to be able to deploy the Russian peacekeepers in these areas, the Armenian armed forces have to be withdrawn from the region simultaneously. However, although the Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the region, the Armenian armed forces have not been withdrawn from the region until today. In addition to this, the phrase “…simultaneously with the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces…” in this provision authorizes the responsibility of removing the Armenian armed forces from the region to the Russian peacekeepers. Because the region is Azerbaijani territory according to the relevant international law decisions. The Russian peacekeeping forces have been deployed to provide for stability in the region for this purpose. In this regard, the fact that the Armenian armed forces have not been withdrawn from the region points out that the Russian peacekeepers acted against their obligations. Moreover, the fact that a Russian peacekeeping force that belongs to the Russian Federation does not interfere with the presence of the Armenian armed forces in the territory of Azerbaijan could also be assessed as the indirect use of force by Russia against Azerbaijan.
Another violated provision of the Ceasefire Agreement is related to the Lachin road. According to Article 6 of the Treaty;
“Throughout the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Lachin corridor … the peacekeeping force of the Russian Federation is deployed.”
As per the second sentence of Article 6 of the Agreement;
“The Lachin corridor (5 kilometres wide), which shall provide the connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, but shall not touch the city of Shusha, shall remain under the supervision of the Russian peacekeeper.”
The geographical place names call “Nagorno-Karabakh” and “Lachin corridor” in these provisions are the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan. Moreover, these regions are recognized by the international community as territories under the sovereignty of Azerbaijan. In this context, the areas where the Russian peacekeeper is deployed are the territory of Azerbaijan.
According to international law, the consent of the host state is required for forces belonging to another state to be deployed within the borders of a sovereign state. In this sense, the Russian peacekeeper who has been deployed in the territory of Azerbaijan operates in the region with the consent of Azerbaijan. Therefore, for the Russian peacekeeping force to stay in the region, it has to act in accordance with the consent of the Azerbaijani state.
One of the most important issues to be emphasized here is that the necessary procedures have not been brought into force in the Azerbaijani domestic law regarding the placement of the Russian peacekeeping force in the region and the determination of its duties and obligations. In this context, the approval of the Azerbaijan Milli Majlis (parliament) is required for the Russian peacekeeping force to be deployed in the region according to Azerbaijani domestic law. However, such a procedure has not yet been carried out by the Azerbaijani parliament. Thus, the presence of Russian peacekeepers in the region has been left of legal legitimacy. As a result, the Russian peacekeeper deployed in the territory of Azerbaijan does not have a legitimate equivalent within the scope of both Azerbaijani domestic law and international law.
Another violation of the treaty arises from not fulfilling the obligation in Article 9 by Armenia. According to the second sentence of this provision;
“The Republic of Armenia shall guarantee the safety of the transport line between the western regions of the Azerbaijan Republic and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in order to ensure the smooth movement of citizens, means of transport, and goods in both directions.”
As per the 4th sentence of Article 9 of the Treaty;
“On the basis of the consent of the parties (Azerbaijan-Armenia), the construction of new transportation lines connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and the western provinces of Azerbaijan shall be ensured”.
The phrases “Republic of Armenia”, “…guarantee” and “new transportation lines” in these provisions oblige Armenia to give a “transport line” that will provide the connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. However, Armenia has not fulfilled this obligation so far.
Azerbaijan calls this transportation line the Zangezur Corridor and demands the opening of the Zangezur Corridor equivalent the Lachin Corridor. Armenia, on the other hand, argues that the expression “transport line” in Article 9 does not mean a corridor. However, when the “Lachin Corridor” regulated in Article 6 of the Ceasefire Agreement and the “transport line” regulated in Article 9 are compared, it is seen that both have the same function. In other words, the Ceasefire Agreement did not put any difference between the purpose and function of the Lachin Corridor and the purpose and function of the Zangezur Corridor. Consequently, both need to have the same status.
As stated above, according to international law, the violation of the provisions of the treaty by one of the parties in multilateral treaties allows the party whose rights are violated to withdraw from the treaty and terminate the treaty for itself. The violation of Articles 4, 6, and 9 of the Ceasefire Agreement dated November 9, 2020, which is a multilateral agreement, by Armenia and Russia also causes Azerbaijan’s grievances. This gives Azerbaijan the right to withdraw from the Ceasefire agreement. Violation of the obligations of the Russian peacekeeping force sent by the Russian Federation and its condoning the Armenian armed forces to stay on the territory of Azerbaijan can be called indirect use of force against the Azerbaijan State.
Memmed Ismayilov Kafkassam

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