Saturday, 20 July 2019

E Editorial

What does the recognition of the Golan Heights as part of Israel mean?

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US President Donald Trump signed a decree recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. As a reminder, Israel conquered this territory in 1967 during the Arab-Israeli war.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who in recent years has established close relations with Israel, said during a telephone conversation with his American counterpart that this would prevent settling the crisis in Syria. A very mild formulation was given.

In international relations, often in legal disputes, the interpretation of laws is important. Remarkable is the comment by the US Secretary of State. He justified the Tampa decision as follows: "The recognition of the Golan as part of Israel is fully consistent with the situation prevailing in place and the fact that happened on the ground." It turns out that a very important principle of international relations is being called into question: the principle of inviolability and integrity of borders, which is replaced by the principle of "the situation prevailing in place and the fact that happened on the ground."

Challenging the basic principle of international relations after the First and Second World Wars can have far-reaching consequences.

There are territorial disputes in many parts of the world, as well as a number of “facts that happened on the ground.” In particular, these are the Golan Heights, the Crimea, Artsakh, Kosovo, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and others. This can be a long list.

The status quo created after the Second World War is, in fact, questioned, and the process of revising the borders has begun. For us, the replacement of the integrity of the borders with a “fact that happened on the ground” is especially important.

The supporters of the “new principle” are the two countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group - the United States and Russia - one for the Golan Heights, the other for the Crimea. The Madrid principles introduced by the Minsk Group are based on the principles of the Helsinki Final Act (non-use of force, territorial integrity, equal rights of peoples and the right to self-determination). They were mentioned in a recent statement by the co-chairs.

The other side of the Minsk Group, the EU, represented by France, has a different approach. The EU has officially confirmed that it does not recognize “Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights” (statement of Federica Mogherini, responsible for the diplomacy of this Union, dated March 27).

It turns out that there is a legal dispute between the co-chairs of the Minsk Group, which is directly related to the principles of the settlement of the Artsakh problem.

It is not by chance that many experts have already started talking about the “new world order”, that is, about the process of redrawing borders or correcting “created” and “developing” situations. No one can foresee what kind of "new world" comes to replace the "old world", but the fact that fundamental changes are beginning is more than obvious.

Sometimes in international relations such “windows” are created, followed by a new “status quo” and then the borders “freeze.”

In connection with the Artsakh problem, we must understand that the new situation may open up new prospects for the unrecognized second Armenian state.

However, this “new situation” implies the ability to accurately navigate in a changing world and the ability to create a “situation” in place and bring it to its logical conclusion in accordance with the spirit of international processes.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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Yerevan, Armenia

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