Armenian separatists under the slogan of self-determination began a war against Azerbaijan in January-February 1988. It can be said that this process has started much earlier, but the destructive events became visible from the illegal session of the Regional Council in February 1988. But few people wondered: Can the representatives of national minorities in Armenia hold their own referendum on self-determination? After all, Yerevan propagandists shout about “democracy” in an outpost country and went so far as to say that there is more democracy in occupied Karabakh than in Azerbaijan. Does the constitution of Armenia allow the local Yazidis and Molokans to hold their referendum with the question of secession from Armenia? About 40 thousand (official data) Yazidis live there, and there are about five thousand Molokans remaining, others hastily left for Russia.
Let’s have a look at the text of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, adopted on 05.07.1995. At first glance, it’s full of democracy and beautiful phrases. Just like Caucasian Switzerland. But the devil, as we know, is in the details.
Let us slightly digress from our topic, and touch upon the foreign policy. Article 9 of the Constitution states: “The foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia shall be conducted in accordance with the principles and norms of the international law, with the aim of establishing good neighborly and mutually beneficial relations with all states”.
A beautiful phrase, readers far from the Caucasus are going to love it. But we all know, what Armenia’s relations with neighbors are, how support for the Armenian separatism in Georgia and the occupation of Azerbaijani lands is compatible with the words from the constitution about good neighborly and mutually beneficial relations with all states. If in Yerevan they believe that Armenia’s relations with Azerbaijan were built strictly according to the Supreme Law of the country, then they lie. No other way.
Back to the topic of national minorities. Article 37 states that citizens belonging to national minorities are entitled to the preservation of their traditions and the development of their language and culture. Indeed, they have the right, but cannot exercise this right, because “the fundamental human and civil rights and freedoms established under Articles 23 and 27 of the Constitution may only be restricted by law, if necessary for the protection of state and public security, public order, public health and morality, and the rights, freedoms, honor and reputation of others”, – as clearly stated in Article 44.
That is, if the central government decides that Molokans are going to hold their referendum and annex villages they founded in Armenia to Russia, then they will be subjected to repressive measures. Moreover, there is also Article 45: “Some human and civil rights and freedoms, except for those provided under Articles 17, 20, 39, and 41, 43 of the Constitution, may be temporarily restricted in a manner prescribed by law, in the event of martial law, or in cases prescribed under paragraph 4 of Article 55 of the Constitution”.
So, it takes only to declare the martial law regime in the Molokan villages to arrest Russians in Armenia and send to “Nubarashen” prison. And all Armenians know what it is like and how bad it is.
Now, specifically on the referendum. It turns out, as expected, that Molokans and Yazidis will not be able to hold a plebiscite on their territory. Armenians accuse Azerbaijan that Baku denies the right of Karabakh Armenians to a referendum exclusively in the Nagorno-Karabakh borders, especially within the boundaries of the occupied lands. But what does the Armenian Constitution say?
Let’s look at Article 3: “The elections of the President, the National Assembly and local self-governing bodies of the Republic of Armenia, as well as referenda, are held based on the right to universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot”.
The Constitution does not specify the right of national minorities to hold a local referendum, but it contains a provision on universal suffrage. That is, the fate of the Molokan and Yazidi villages is for the entire population of Armenia to decide. It is clear that no Armenian would agree to allow ethnic minorities to establish their state on the territory of the Republic of Armenia.
So in Armenia they constitutionally destroyed the slightest chance of Molokans and Yazidis for political self-determination. At the same time they demand the right to self-determination for the Karabakh Armenians in Azerbaijan. I think Azerbaijani experts and political scientists should base their explanatory work on a comparison of the two constitutions and accentuation of the violated rights of the national minorities of Armenia.
Author: Kamal Ali