Official Yerevan and Karabakh’s leadership hope that South Sudan’s independence will set another precedent for a resolution of the Karabakh conflict sought by them.
Preliminary official results of the referendum showed 99 percent of voters in the war-torn region voting for secession. Their announcement on Sunday sparked mass celebrations in the southern capital Juba.
The vote was held in early January in accordance with a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa’s longest secessionist conflict, which killed an estimated 2 million people. It was widely praised for meeting democratic standards.
“Armenia is welcoming the referendum held in South Sudan,” Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in written comments to the official Armenpress news agency released by his press office. “The published preliminary results of the referendum … confirmed one more time, that the self-determination is an inseparable right of every nation.”
“We hope that by choosing the way of determining its own destiny, through expression of its will, South Sudan will succeed in the establishment and the accomplishment of an independent statehood,” he said, signaling Yerevan’s intention to promptly recognize what will likely become the world’s newest country.
Nalbandian described the referendum outcome as “the freshest example of the victory march of the right of self-determination and a right way to solve the existing problems” Bako Sahakian, president of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), echoed that assessment through his press secretary, Davit Babayan.
In an interview with the Moscow-based TV station Russia Today last week, Nalbandian confirmed that Yerevan thinks South Sudan’s independence will strengthen the Armenian case for international recognition of Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan.
“Can it become a precedent for Nagorno-Karabakh? Well, of course it can,” he told the English-language broadcaster. “But there are lots of such examples. They are not few in number.”
The Armenian and NKR leaderships similarly hailed a United Nations court ruling that upheld the legality of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia. Nalbandian made a point of meeting with Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Skender Hyseni in New York in September.
“The ongoing processes in South Sudan have turned the Kosovo precedent into a pattern,” Babayan, the Karabakh Armenian official, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. He said there are many important similarities between the conflicts in Sudan and Karabakh.