In an interview with Public TV on November 16, Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan stated that Armenia is appealing to Russia for protection of Armenia’s territorial integrity under the 1997 agreement between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation.
The situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has been tense since November 14. Today, on November 16, the Armenian Ministry of Defense announced that the units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces are shelling the Armenian positions. As of the time of writing this article, the situation remains tense.
The Fact Investigation Platform studied the agreement signed between Armenia and Russia to try to understand what obligations it imposes on the parties.
Armenia’s territorial integrity was violated already back in May
On May 12, the Azerbaijani armed forces penetrated into the area of Sev Lake in Syunik Province. Armenia appealed to the CSTO on the grounds of violation of the territorial integrity of Armenia.
FIP.am has referred to what the UN and the CSTO provide for in case of violation of the territorial integrity of the member states.
Nevertheless, CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas stated that the aggravation of the situation in the south of Armenia, which is due to the establishment of new borders with Azerbaijan, is a border incident and does not fall under the provisions of the CSTO Charter on Collective Defense.
As a result, the Azerbaijani armed forces continued to remain in the area of Sev Lake, and on November 14 the current escalation began.
What does the 1997 agreement say?
The Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation was signed in 1997 and entered into force in 1998. It was signed by the first president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan and the then president of Russia Boris Yeltsin.
The treaty was signed for a period of twenty-five years, with the possibility of extension.
The document addressed the cooperation between the two countries in the areas of security, economy, culture, etc. Articles 2 and 3 address the issue of protecting each other’s territorial integrity. It is noted that the parties will closely cooperate in the protection and security of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Armenia and Russia.
“They will start consultations immediately whenever one of the parties considers that there is a threat of an armed attack on it in order to ensure joint defense and to maintain peace and mutual security,” the agreement says, adding that the consultations would determine the need, form and extent of assistance.
Under the treaty, the Parties have also undertaken to take all available measures to counter the aggression of any State against them and to provide each other with the necessary assistance, including military assistance.
In the context of cooperation between the armed forces, Article 4 states that in the event of a threat to the security of one of the parties or an armed attack on any of them, the parties will be guided by the principle of mutual use of military facilities and structures under the conditions established for the national armed forces and on the principle of joint operation of defense facilities.
It should be noted that the text of the document does not mention anything about the procedure for the parties to appeal to each other’s assistance.
Russia also has a similar agreement with Azerbaijan
It is noteworthy that Russia also signed a similar agreement with Azerbaijan in 1997.
The Parties to the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Security agree to work together for peace, stability and security, both in the region and on global issues.
The Parties shall endeavor to resolve regional conflicts on the basis of universal international law, first and foremost sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of borders.
Under the treaty, Russia and Azerbaijan undertake to cooperate and support mutual efforts to ensure territorial integrity and inviolability of borders. It is emphasized that they do not recognize the forcible alteration of internationally recognized borders.
“In the event that one of the Parties considers that the peace is threatened or that its essential security interests are being violated, either Party may request urgent consultations with the other Party. The two countries will exchange relevant information and seek to agree on appropriate measures to resolve the situation,” Article 4 of the Russian-Azerbaijani agreement reads.
In a separate clause, the parties condemn separatism in all its manifestations.
In addition, each Party undertakes not to engage in any military, financial or economic action or event against each other, including through third countries, nor to allow its territory to be used for aggression or other acts of violence against the other Party.
Each party to the treaty undertakes to recognize and respect the right of the other party to take a number of measures to protect its sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inviolability of its borders.
Thus, the 1997 Armenian-Russian agreement does provide for cooperation and assistance in the event of a threat to the security of one of the parties, but Russia also has a similar agreement with Azerbaijan, signed in 1997.
It should also be noted that unlike the CSTO, the Armenian-Russian treaty does not contain details on the procedure for seeking mutual assistance.