Thursday, December 22, 2022

Tripartite Declaration after 2020 Caucasus War ‘Not an International Treaty’ and Russian Forces in Karabakh Not Peacekeepers, Armenian Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 20 – The joint declaration of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of the 44-Day war in 2020 was just that, a declaration but not an international treaty, Armenian experts on international law say.

            Andria Gukasyan, a political scientist, says that it is a mistake to think otherwise as recent events have shown. Whether the declaration is enforced or not depends entirely on the good will of those who made it rather than defining outcomes whose violations the others can complain about (

            He points out that “no one can demand anything from anyone, and no one has undertaken any international obligations” by making that declaration as would be the case with a genuine treaty. This allows the Russians to call their forces in the region “peacekeepers” even though they are not, and each of the parties to continue to define the situation in its own way.

            Ara Papyan, another Armenian political scientist, agrees. He says that the tripartite declaration lacks any legal force and has allowed Russia and Azerbaijan to back away from earlier undertakings they made to the OSCE Minsk Group, including a ban on introducing forces to address the dispute.

            According to Papyan, “there is no normative document which gives the Russian military contingent the right to serve as a peacekeeping mission or any definition of its obligations in connection with the actions of Russian soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh in one or another circumstance.”

            “Russia introduced its forces in essence on the basis of an oral agreement alone, and Azerbaijan has frequently declared that Russian forces do not have any status. The Tripartite Declaration does not government the obligations of Russian forces,” Papyan says. Normal peacekeeping documents run to more than a thousand pages and not a few lines as in this case.

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