New Opportunities for Parliamentary Diplomacy in Artsakh
(October 10, 2019)
Dear participants of the forum,
It is generally accepted, that foreign relations are the monopoly of the executive branch of power,but the activity of parliamentary structures in international relations over the last decades,the work of international parliamentary organizations evidence that the participation of legislators in international relations is increasing day by day.
But in the case of Artsakh, when we have limited opportunities to pursue foreign policy because of unrecognized status, contacts at the parliamentary level and the importance of relationships is emphasized.
As the President of the Parliament and former Foreign Minister I find it interesting to speak to such an audience on the subject of parliamentary diplomacy and present the role of the legislative body of our country in foreign relations and the opportunities to make full use of it to the forum.
Proclaimed as parliamentary democracy since the first days of independence, the legislative body in our republic, then called the Supreme Council, has played an important role in the formulation and conduct of both domestic and foreign policy. It is noteworthy that right from that time on, the parliamentarians have been actively involved in the process of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement and in particular the cease fire negotiations. In this context special attention should be paid to the trilateral meeting organized in Bishkek on the initiative of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly on May 4-5, 1994. Moreover, in this mentioned period, against the background of the many temporary ceasefire agreements, there was the awareness, that for the settlement process it is vital to have a dialogue not only between military and diplomatic leaders but also among the parliamentarians who received a direct mandate from the people, as any document agreed upon by them would give extra legitimacy to the process.
Unfortunately, during the following years, except for a few separate attempts,the positive role that parliamentary diplomacy could play in the process of comprehensive settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, has not been used in any way. And the possibility of having parliamentary contacts between the conflicting parties has been eliminated.
The Republic of Artsakh National Assembly has always carried out activities on expanding foreign relations with the primary priority of promoting international recognition of Artsakh through foreign partners, raising awareness of the Artsakh problem, to voice the position of Artsakh and ways to find a variety of effective cooperation. These activities have been most active especially since 2012 and it is no coincidence, that we had the first results since that time. New South Wales, Australia, Basque Country, the parliaments of the nine American states, as well as legislatures in a number of cities have adopted resolutions in defense of the right of the people of Artsakh to have a free and independent state.
In parallel to the diplomatic efforts of the Parliament the process of institutionalization of the existing relations has taken place and the beginning of the formation of friendship groups and circles with parliamentary structures around the world have been formed.
Today, Artsakh Parliament has friendship circles with Lithuania, France, Australia, French-speaking legislators, representatives of the scientific and public spheres of Belgium, friendship groups with the European Parliament, Flanders of the Kingdom of Belgium, Canada. In the Iist I do not specifically mention the Inter-Parliamentary Committee on Cooperation with the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia because the cooperation between the parliaments of the two Armenian republics is on the highest level and these relations are not limited to the foreign policy agenda only.
Of course, friendship groups and circles are a conduit for maintaining relationships with the outside world, but we must bear in mind that the efficiency of the diplomatic efforts of the Artsakh Parliament is influenced by the processes of political rearrangements in different countries. In this field it is difficult to make long-range forecasts. Because of the new political alignments we sometimes lose our influence in any country or vice versa in order to find new opportunities to work more actively. Parliamentary diplomacy has such peculiarities in the case of Artsakh, that circumstances require constant attention and alertness to seek and find a favorable environment to keep what you created and take advantage of new opportunities.
One of the most important links in parliamentary diplomacy is representation in international parliamentary structures which allows MPs from member states to raise issues both in their respective countries' domestic politics and in finding ways to overcome the challenges facing the international community. Unfortunately, due to the inadequate efforts and whimsical wishes of Azerbaijan to isolate Artsakh by all possible means, in international organizations the doors of the international community remain largely closed to us.
The participation and cooperation of political forces represented in the legislative branch with the political parties and alliances of other countries also create the necessary basis for the enhancement of the role of the parliament in foreign relations. Three of the 5 political forces represented in the National Assembly of the Artsakh Republic of the 6th convocation cooperate with such structures: the Democratic Party of Artsakh has the status of associate member in the European Free Alliance,moreover, the Alliance together with the Greens, is represented in the European Parliament; «Free Motherland» Party cooperates with the « Alternative for Germany» party and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation with the «Socialist International» union. At the party level, there is always the possibility of activating the work, especially as the field offers greater flexibility and broader opportunities, and the barriers are relatively easy to overcome.
With modern communication capabilities even when personal contacts and relationships at a distance have a decisive influence on the formation of opinions and attitudes direct involvement of individual parliamentarians in relations with Artsakh creates new opportunities for parliamentary diplomacy. On this occasion, I would also like to address the representatives of national parliaments of different countries from this platform. “Be guided by your own mind and conscience, your personal commitment and determination can change a lot in the attitude of you and your countries towards Artsakh and the conflict. The most appropriate way is to see and know Artsakh in person. "
Thanks to the efforts made over the past 30 years, parliamentary diplomacy has played a valuable role in our country's foreign policy means. The necessary institutional capacity has been developed for its expansion and application of new opportunities. Nevertheless, our success in this area is largely based on the diligent and purposeful work of our friends and Armenian organizations operating in the Diaspora. Therefore, taking this opportunity, I would like to express my gratitude to all the friends of Artsakh, to all the national structures operating in the Diaspora, in particular, "Hay Dat" committee and the staff of all organizations supporting Artsakh.
I have no doubt that «Cooperation for the Sake of Justice and Peace» forum will be a useful platform for defending the same ideas and values, for our friends not only to get closer to Artsakh and refresh their perceptions today, but communicate with each other as well, exchange ideas and opinions on issues of mutual interest, and outline what the future holds. Due to the success of the conference, one might also think of organizing meetings in this format, if not annually, at least frequently. I am confident that this will give a positive impetus to our overall cause of Artsakh recognition and will open new opportunities for further activation of parliamentary diplomacy. Our struggle continues and I wish all of us success in this difficult but honorable work.