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Armenia skips UN vote on “IDPs from South Ossetia and Abkhazia“
2019-06-05 21:23:13

Marlena Hovsepyan
Public Radio fo Armenia

Armenia has for the first time changed its stance on a Georgian resolution at the United Nations about the right of return of displaced people.

On June 4, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution reaffirming the rights of Georgians displaced from South Ossetia and Abkhazia to return to their homes.

By a recorded vote of 79 in favour to 15 against, with 57 abstentions, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the "status of internally displaced persons and refugees from those areas," stressing the need to respect their property rights and underlining the urgent need for unimpeded humanitarian access to “all those residing in conflict-affected areas of Georgia.”

Armenia has traditionally voted against similar documents, which Georgia has tabled every year since 2008. This year Armenia opted not to join countries such as Belarus, Burundi, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and others by simply skipping the voting.

“Non-participation is also an expression of position and a diplomatic step,” says Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary Arman Navasardyan.

“To put in in diplomatic language, this means ‘I’m not participating.’ There can be different interpretations here. Diplomats can just decide to leave the hall and visit a café in the UN headquarters. This is common among diplomats, there is nothing mandatory,” Amb. Navasardyan said in an interview with Public Radio of Armenia.

Yerevan has not expressed any official stance on the issue, discussions are taking place on the expert level both in Armenia and Georgia.

Arman Navasardyan, however, sees Yerevan’s step as a nod to neighboring Georgia.

“Armenia took the step after weighing the pros and cons and guided by the willingness to develop good-neighborly relations,” he said.

The Ambassador welcomes the decision and looks forward to Georgia’s response. He believes that the incumbent authorities in both countries have taken the course of maximally reinforcing and deepening the bilateral relations.

At the same time the diplomat points to possible threats.

“If Armenia is changing its position, it needs to be cautious. Should Armenia take a wrong step, Azerbaijan can raise the issue of return of its so-called refugees to Artsakh,” he said.

Arman Navasardyan finds it hard to predict Russia’s possible reaction to Armenia’s sovereign decision. He doesn’t think Russia will make a big tragedy of this, but the step will not go unnoticed.

“Voting inside international organizations usually takes place in line with the state's political and economic interests. In this situations Armenia has been voting in one way for years, but has now decided to vote differently. There is nothing terrible here, and no one has the right to impose anything, to get offended or make unreasonable conclusions," he said.

According to the diplomat, there have always been minor issues in Armenian-Russian relations, but the ties have been positive. He says the bilateral relations are now developing in a different way, but without any change in the content.

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