Report on escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh passed at PACE

By: Sara Rajabova

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe committee has adopted a report, entitled “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”

Elkhan Suleymanov, a member of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, told local media that the organization’s political affairs committee adopted the report, which was prepared by PACE Rapporteur Robert Walter.

The report focuses on the two-decade-old occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and other territories of Azerbaijan. It also notes the UN Security Council’s resolutions that call for the liberation of Azerbaijani territories, the fact that the decision, dated June 2015 of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the case known as “Chiragov and others versus Armenia”, proves Armenia is in control of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions, and that Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev have been tried illegally by the unrecognized courts of a separatist regime in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.

Suleymanov said Armenian MPs have denied the truth, shamelessly proposing the resolution’s cancellation, and sought to prevent this issue from being brought up again.

Noting that the Armenian side’s proposal was put to the vote and rejected, he said, to the contrary, all three amendments proposed by the Azerbaijani side were approved.

Proposals were made by head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE Samad Seyidov.

One of the amendments had read, “…the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region still remains unsettled,” but was replaced with “…occupied Azerbaijani territories have not yet been liberated from occupation”. The second amendment sought to have added the wording “… calls for Armenia, the occupying force, to secure the immediate release [of Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev]”. And wording of the third amendment included, “… regrets for the Armenian government having refused to work with the rapporteur” be replaced with “… strongly condemns the Armenian government having refused to work with the co-rapporteur,” Suleymanov said.

The Armenian side has refused to work with the PACE rapporteur and not allowed visits to the Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In September, addressing a meeting of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy of PACE, Walter said contrary to Yerevan, the Azerbaijani side is ready and willing to cooperate. Despite Armenia’s reluctance to cooperate with PACE and its objections, Walter expressed his determination to prepare the report.

Suleymanov went on to say that the Azerbaijani side had expected the Armenian side to use various provocations and methods at the committee meetings to prevent the resolution’s approval.

“The Armenians’ refusal to work with the rapporteur made us think so. Apart from that, Armenian media published materials containing a large number of anti-Armenian provisions in the report, claiming that it was wholly pro-Azerbaijan. On the other hand, [Ermine] Nagdalyan, the head of Armenia’s delegation to PACE, members [Armen] Rustamyan and [Naira] Karapetyan were participating in the voting, trying to prevent the report from being approved. They denied the whole truth, shamelessly proposing the resolution’s cancellation. This silly proposal from the Armenian side was put to the vote and rejected, with 14 votes in favor and 24 against,” the MP said.

The PACE political affairs committee called in a draft resolution approved on November 4 for “the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces and other irregular armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan, and the establishment of full sovereignty of Azerbaijan in these territories”, in the framework of the OSCE Minsk process, PACE website reported.

Strongly condemning the deliberate targeting of civilian settlements close to the line of contact, the committee said it regretted that the Nagorno-Karabakh problem has been side-lined by other major international crises.

It added that “further procrastination only complicates the settlement of this ‘un-frozen’ conflict which has claimed over a hundred human lives since the beginning of 2014, and which may escalate into a real war between two Council of Europe member states.”

The committee also called for the establishment by the OSCE of an international peacekeeping force to maintain security within Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories and to ensure the safe return and resettlement of displaced persons, as well as the creation of a mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations.

The draft resolution, based on a report by Walter, is due to be debated by the Assembly at its January 2016 session.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a lengthy war that ended with the signing of a fragile ceasefire in 1994. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million people were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities. Since the war, the Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

Armenia continues the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions calling for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of armed forces.

Peace talks brokered by mediators from Russia, France and the U.S. have so far produced no results.


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