Sona Ghazaryan, a member of Armenia’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), delivered remarks at the PACE Plenary Session.
“I highly appreciate the report, well-penned and very much on time. Political parties, among other actors, are responsible for combating hate speech, racism, and xenophobia. However, what we often see today is that political parties, instead, build their election campaigns, rhetoric, sometimes even actions on hatred, racism, and xenophobia.
This happens in Europe, and this happens beyond Europe.
And then sometimes, these political parties and their leaders find themselves in their own trap. They build up and build on hate so much that they then do not know how to control and deal with the amount of hatred they have created themselves.
This is especially dangerous when hatred is proliferated towards a society living in close proximity, towards a neighbor. And even more dangerous when there is an unresolved conflict in need of a robust peace process. This is the case in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the systemic Armenophobia in Azerbaijan.
You know too well the case of the trophy park in Baku that glorifies war and that depicted Armenian soldiers in captivity degrading human dignity and dehumanizing Armenians. Schoolchildren were taken to this park. This was an outrageous case of state-sponsored hatred and racism. The mannequins of Armenian soldiers were taken down only after Armenia filed a case at the International Court of Justice based on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The International Court of Justice has already produced an interim decision in which it calls on Azerbaijan to “take all necessary measures to prevent the incitement and promotion of racial hatred and discrimination, including by its officials and public institutions, targeted at persons of Armenian national or ethnic origin.” I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the International Court of Justice has stated that it is the officials and public institutions in Azerbaijan that incite and promote hatred against Armenians.
I believe that the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly should also be very vocal and direct calling state-level hate speech, racism and xenophobia by name, and we should together combat this because hatred is a poison similar to mercury; it is very hard to collect once it spills over,” Sona Ghazaryan said in her speech.