21 September 2001
Recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by Armenia
Written Question No. 396
Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 765th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies (19 September 2001)
I. Written Question No. 396 by Mrs Hajiyeva (Doc. 9140)
The Committee of Ministers, at their 108th Ordinary Session on 10 and 11 May 2001, discussed the situation in the Balkans and Caucasus. During the meeting the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Mr V. Oscanyan, declared that Armenia does not and will not recognise the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is settled.
Taking into consideration that
- both Azerbaijan and Armenia are full members of the Council of Europe;
- the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan is recognised by all the international organisations, including the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and by all the world states;
- one member state of the Council of Europe, Armenia, does not recognise the territorial integrity of another member state, Azerbaijan;
- Armenia has occupied 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan, and that this has led to mass violation of human rights.
To ask the Committee of Ministers to invite the Republic of Armenia
- to respect such principles of International Law as territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and to recognise the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan;
- to secure immediate withdrawal of the Armenian military forces from the occupied Azerbaijani lands.
II. Reply from the Committee of Ministers
1. The Committee of Ministers noted with interest Written Question N° 396 by Ms Hajiyeva on the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by Armenia.
2. Ms Hajiyeva refers to the Committee of Ministers’ 108th Session of 10 and 11 May 2001. At this meeting, the Committee of Ministers did indeed examine the situation in the Balkans and the Caucasus. At the close of the Session, at which all its members were represented, the Committee of Ministers adopted a Communiqué, paragraph 2 of which states:
3. “The Ministers reaffirmed their support for the respect for internationally recognised borders, sovereignty and territorial integrity of states throughout Europe, as well as for the other principles of international law set out in the United Nations Charter, the CSCE Helsinki Final Act and other relevant texts.” 4.
4. In adopting this sentence:
“One delegation said that it accepted this sentence on the understanding that there was no hierarchy between the principles of international law referred to, whether these are explicitly mentioned or not. That delegation made a statement in this respect, which is reproduced in the minutes of the meeting.”
5. It follows that the Committee of Ministers, has explicitly reaffirmed its support for the respect of all internationally-recognised borders, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all members of the Council of Europe, whilst equally acknowledging the value of other principles of international law. The right to self-determination of peoples and the other principles contained in the Helsinki final act will be equally and unreservedly applied, each of them being interpreted taking into account the others. Thus the right to self-determination should be respected, in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with norms of international law, including those relating to territorial integrity of states.
Consequently, this right may only be exercised following peaceful negotiations. Use of force for the purpose of acquiring territory is unacceptable and any resultant acquisition cannot be recognised as lawful.
6. The Committee of Ministers refers to paragraph 12 of the Communiqué of the 108th Session quoted above. In addition, at its 761st meeting (18 July 2001, item 2.6) in the context of examination of the GT-SUIVI.AGO’s report, it had again “urged the authorities of both countries to take active steps to find a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”. In this regard, the Committee of Ministers refers to the Group’s report which had been transmitted to the Parliamentary Assembly.
7. The Committee of Ministers appeals to the two member states concerned to find a compromise according to the principles mentioned in paragraph 5 above and to avoid any statement in favour of a military solution or likely to strengthen enmity and hatred, in disregard of the commitments entered into by both countries when joining the Council of Europe. The Committee of Ministers is in fact convinced that a peaceful solution to this conflict is a matter of fundamental importance and great urgency, because the implementation of this joint commitment by the two countries may have a positive effect on the honouring of all their other commitments. Poverty and hatred are not fertile ground for democracy and respect for human rights, and peace is essential not only for the stability of the region and its economic development, but also for the establishment and consolidation of democracy in these countries.