Armenian FM: Offering autonomy to people controlling their lives on

Armenian FM: Offering autonomy to people controlling their lives on their own historic land is self-deception

Regnum, Russia
June 22 2006

Minister Vardan Oskanyan attended and addressed the first session
of the newly-formed UN Human Rights Council. The opening ceremony on
Monday was attended by UN SG Kofi Annan as well as High Commissioner
for Human Rights Louise Arbour.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry press service reports that in his
statement, on Wednesday, June 21, Armenia’s Minister congratulated
the Council on its inaugural meeting and wished the Council well in
its mandate to place the third pillar of the UN human rights on a
par with the other two, peace and security, and development.

The Minister said, "Globalization and the electronic media enhance our
knowledge and increase our liability. It is as easy to look into our
neighbor’s living room as our own. To hear the screams next door and
do nothing will be as difficult as ignoring uproar at home. We are now
the first generation who simply cannot afford to do so. And ironically,
we are the first generation that is able to afford to systematically,
fundamentally address the problems and even the crises. We can muster
the time, skills and resources to construct a new pro-active, daring,
spirited international system that not only has the moral authority
but also the tenacity to protect the powerless."

The Minister addressed the linkage between human rights and
development. He said, "I know that it is only when the preconditions
for a full and free life of dignity are in place, only then are markets
powerful engines of development, only then is critical infrastructure
sustainable, and only then do individuals stand up to demand and
protect individual and collective human rights."

He continued, "In Armenia, we are tackling this greatest challenge
through a public-private partnership that will engage the government
of Armenia, Armenia’s business community, the international community
and individual countries, as well as our generous Diaspora, to embark
on eradicating rural poverty through a comprehensive, integrated
approach. Our intent is to meet the Millennium Development Goals,
and to replace hopelessness and desperation with a sense of self-worth
and security."

In speaking about Armenia’s neighbors and regional security,
Minister Oskanian noted that "Armenia has and continues to promote
stronger international mechanisms to prevent and eradicate the crime
of genocide, and all of its precursors including efforts, too often
successful, at not just cleansing a region of its indigenous people,
but also erasing their memory. Armenians have survived and gone on to
live through each of these attempts. Even today, in the 21st century,
we have watched helplessly as the spiritual and cultural markers of
our people are decimated."

He went on to refer to the destruction of the Jugha Cemetery in
Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan. "This violation of the memory and spirit of
centuries of Armenian existence on lands which are today Azerbaijan’s
is cynical and dangerous. These huge, exquisite, unique stone crosses
which were both sculpture and tombstone are now gone – 2,000 of
these medieval markers were destroyed just a few months ago. The
gravemarkers are gone, and Armenian and international fears that
Azerbaijan’s authorities might in fact not be serious about peace
have been reinforced. After all, their organized, violent, armed
response to peaceful calls for self-determination two decades ago,
was the first attempt at ethnic cleansing in the soviet space and
ignited the conflict which remains unsettled today. This most recent
manifestation of organized violence, in a place where no Armenians
live today, and far from the Nagorno Karabakh conflict area, tells
us that neither Azerbaijan’s methods nor its intent has changed. Such
unambivalent, callous demolition of culture and history also destroys
trust and peace."

In speaking about the present state of negotiations with Azerbaijan
on the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the Armenian
Foreign Minister said, "If Azerbaijan’s one step forward, one step
back approach in the negotiations was simply alarming, their recent,
desperate offers of autonomy are concrete examples of a retreat
from the letter and spirit of these talks, and clearly not in sync
with international trends. Offering autonomy to a people who have
for nearly two decades been in control of their lives on their own
historic lands is at the very least, self-deception."

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