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Karabakh Armenians Buoyed By Kosovo 'Precedent'

Bako Sahakian, the Nagorno-Karabakh leader
Bako Sahakian, the Nagorno-Karabakh leader
STEPANAKERT -- Nagorno-Karabakh's ethnic Armenian leadership has welcomed a United Nations court ruling upholding the legitimacy of Kosovo's secession from Serbia and affirmed its applicability to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Bako Sahakian, leader of the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, described last week's nonbinding ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as an "important event" at a press conference in Stepanakert on July 23.

He said it will create a "new political situation" in the Karabakh conflict zone.

"That decision has an extremely important legal, political, and moral significance and sets a precedent that cannot be confined to Kosovo," the unrecognized Nagorno Karabakh Republic's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on July 24.

A similar statement was adopted by Karabakh's three main political parties.

Armenia hailed the ICJ judgment shortly after its announcement on July 22. Azerbaijan insisted the next day, however, that the ICJ ruling applies only to Kosovo and Serbia and cannot have any repercussions for the Karabakh conflict.

Sahakian made clear the authorities in Stepanakert will not press Yerevan to formally recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state after the ICJ ruling.

"After all, Armenia bears responsibility before the international community, and you can't blame Armenia's political leaders for not recognizing [Nagorno-Karabakh's] independence," he said. "In this regard, we have never expressed our discontent with Armenia's leadership."

Sahakian added that "we believe that sooner or later we will approach [the launch of] a recognition process by Armenia."