MP’s separatist sympathy prompts ire in Azerbaijan

MP’s separatist sympathy prompts ire in Azerbaijan
PHILLIP COOREY

January 30, 2012

The state upper house Labor MP Walt Secord has incurred the wrath of
the government of Azerbaijan for visiting one of its disputed
territories and siding with the sovereignty claims of the separatist
Armenians.

Mr Secord, a former adviser to NSW premiers Bob Carr and Kristina
Keneally, as well as the former state treasurer Eric Roozendaal and
former prime minister Kevin Rudd, entered the upper house after the
March election.

He is the deputy chairman of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel
and the deputy co-chairman of the NSW Parliamentary Friends of
Armenia.

A supporter of various separatist causes, Mr Secord visited the
disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh last month as part of a
self-funded trip that also took him to Israel, the Palestinian
territories and Kurdish Iraq.

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised internationally, including by
Australia, as part of the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan but
Armenia lays claim to the region.

Mr Secord said he was told while there that he was the first
Australian MP to visit the region.

”While official recognition of the Mountainous Karabakh Re- public is
a matter for the federal Australian government,” Mr Secord said, ”I
feel I have a duty as the co-deputy chair of the NSW Parliamentary
Friends of Armenia to see Armenia and the Mountainous Karabakh
Republic first-hand.”

Officials from the Azerbaijani embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara,
complained to the Australian mission in the same city about the visit
by the ”senator of the Australian state of NSW, Walt Secord”.

An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Elman Abdullayev, told
local media: “The Australian embassy told the Azerbaijani side that
the official stance of the country lies in recognition of the
territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and non-recognition of any
separatist regime in its territory.”

Mr Secord said many of his colleagues had been ”flooded by an email
campaign” protesting against his visit.

From: A. Papazian

http://m.smh.com.au/nsw/mps-separatist-sympathy-prompts-ire-in-azerbaijan-20120129-1qo0t.html

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