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Armenia Cites South Sudan As Model To Resolve Territorial Conflicts

Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian
YEREVAN -- Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian has touted South Sudan's declaration of independence as a blueprint for resolving other ethnic and territorial conflicts, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

"The declaration of independent statehood in South Sudan is a realization of peoples' equality and impregnable right to self-determination and yet another example of the civilized resolution of conflicts," Nalbandian said in a specially written statement on July 9.

The Armenian government and the Armenian leadership in the breakaway Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in January welcomed an internationally recognized referendum in South Sudan that cleared the final hurdle to its secession from the northern part of the country.

Nalbandian said the referendum outcome highlighted "the victory march of the right to self-determination."

Official Yerevan and Karabakh Armenians hope the emergence of a new country will set another precedent for a resolution of the Karabakh conflict along the lines they seek.

Nalbandian insisted in January that South Sudan's independence will strengthen the Armenian case for international recognition of Karabakh's secession from Azerbaijan.

The principle of self-determination has long been championed by the Armenian side in its negotiations with Azerbaijan.

The United States, Russia, and France -- which have been jointly mediating those talks -- recognize that principle along with the territorial integrity of states. A combination of the two principles is at the heart of the "basic principles" of a Karabakh settlement put forward by them.

A key element of the proposed settlement is a future referendum on Karabakh's final status. Armenian officials say the disputed territory's predominantly Armenian population would be able to vote for independence or reunification with Armenia.

But Azerbaijani leaders say, at least in public, that the would-be vote should only determine the extent of Karabakh's autonomy within Azerbaijan.

The Armenian and Karabakh leaderships similarly hailed last year a United Nations court ruling that upheld the legality of Kosovo's secession from Serbia.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said in October that the nonbinding ruling, handed down by the International Court of Justice in July 2010, should serve as a blueprint for the Karabakh settlement.

But Sarkisian's government has thus far stopped short of recognizing Kosovo, which has been recognized by 76 countries. Analysts say Yerevan is anxious not to irk Moscow, Armenia's close ally which is strongly opposed to the ethnic-Albanian populated territory's independence.

As of today, Azerbaijan had not recognized South Sudan's independence. A Foreign Ministry official contacted by RFE/RL refused to comment on whether Baku would soon recognize South Sudan.