Review: “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: A Legal Analysis” – Heiko Kruger

Heiko Kruger’s “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: A Legal Analysis” is the worst book on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that I have read, right next to Bahruz Balayev’s “The Right to Self-Determination in the South Caucasus”. Instead of being an objective legal analysis of Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to secession under international law, Kruger’s book is imperialist apologeticism and Armenophobia disguised in legal terminology. One could be forgiven for confusing it with something Lloyd Axworthy or Michael Ignatieff wrote (ew!).

For example…

Kruger refuses to describe the massacres and deportations committed by the Turks between 1915-23 as “genocide” or even “ethnic cleansing”. Kruger also refuses to acknowledge the culpability of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in the genocide, absolving Azerbaijan of all crimes committed against Armenians.

Even more infuriating is Kruger’s dual and contradictory logic when he compares the cases of Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh. According to Kruger, Nagorno-Karabakh cannot exist as an independent state because it has no such right under international. Moreover, since Nagorno-Karabakh would not survive without Armenian support, its independence, if such a right did exist, without be fictitious and not real. But Kruger then inverts his logic when he examines Kosovo’s independence. According to Kruger, Kosovo can – and does – exist as an independent state despite there being no such right under international law, and despite how U.S. and NATO forces forcibly detached Kosovo from Serbia in much the same way Kruger describes Armenia’s intervention in support of Nagorno-Karabakh. Kruger skillfully avoids elaborating on this confused and contradictory logic by claiming that the U.S. and other countries recognized Kosovo’s independence due to political rather than legal reasons, thus Kosovo’s independence is outside the scope of legal analysis. That Nagorno-Karabakh, like Kosovo, could also exist as an independent state despite there being no such right under international law, and that the lack of recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is due to political and not legal reasons, seems to escape Kruger.

If that wasn’t enough to turn you away from this book, Kruger argues that, in cases of remedial secession due to human rights abuses, a humanitarian intervention is better equipped to deal with human rights abuses than self-determination!!! Because “humanitarian intervention” worked out so well in Libya, Haiti, and other countries! Damn liberals!

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