Armenpress: Conference entitled ‘The Rights of Artsakh Armenians and the European Union’ held in European Parliament

 21:36, 8 November 2023

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS.  The conference entitled " The rights of the Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh Armenians and the European Union" was held in the European Parliament, which was organized and hosted by MEP Costas Mavrides (Cyprus, S&D) in cooperation with The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD)  and the "Europeans for Artsakh" platform. 

Armenpress Brussels correspondent Lilit Gasparyan informs the conference was aimed  at elaborating on the developments in Artsakh since 2020 war from the perspective of international law, human rights as well the response of the international community, the main players involved in mediation, with a particular focus on the role of the EU.

Costas Mavrides stated in his opening speech that the main goal of the conference was not only to not forget the ethnic cleansing carried out by the regime of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also to establish justice.

"Criminals must be punished for committing crimes against humanity, with the ultimate goal of preventing their recurrence in the future.

That is why I have been advocating for years the need to make the EU's acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court mandatory for the third countries.

It is equally important to ensure the safe return of the Armenian population to Nagorno-Karabakh and guarantee respect for their rights by Azerbaijan. The European Parliament has always been on the side of the Armenians because we defend respect for human rights and international law, and we will intensively continue our efforts in this direction,” Mavrides said.

Armenia's Ambassador to Belgium and Head of the Mission of Armenia to the EU, Tigran Balayan in his speech stated that he was present at the conference not only in his official capacity, but also as a person whose family had been subjected to ethnic cleansing and left their homeland after the aggression carried out by Aliyev in front of the eyes of the world and the international community.

"Since 2020, every step taken by the government of Azerbaijan has fully complied with the 14 factors of atrocity crimes defined by the United Nations. Our task is to use all possible legal means from our arsenal to hold the Aliyev regime accountable for ethnic cleansing and serious war crimes,” Balayan said, adding that the Aliyev regime must pay for everything and individual sanctions must be imposed. According to the ambassador, if crimes remain unpunished, they are doomed to be repeated. Balayan is confident that the European Parliament, within its powers, can apply individual sanctions against key members of the regime. 

The Chairman of Hay Dat Committee of Europe Gaspar Karapetyan, in his speech said that the European Parliament, as a body elected by the people, fulfills its task with honor. Gaspar Karapetyan noted that the European Parliament had repeatedly condemned Azerbaijan and demanded that the executive bodies of the EU take clear steps and impose sanctions against Azerbaijan. “Despite this, the EU executive body wittingly or unwittingly, served the interests of Azerbaijan. But we will continue to mobilize both civil society and political forces in Europe, to demand that EU executive bodies take responsibility for their policy both politically and legally. Human rights cannot be a tool for promoting geopolitical interests,” Karapetyan said.

 One of the key-note speakers of the conference, former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo, mentioned in his speech that genocide is not just mass murder, and what happened to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh is a type of genocide. "Blocking the Lachin Corridor meant creating conditions for the extermination of the people," said Moreno Ocampo and emphasized that the Council of Europe can play an important role and call the EU member states to account, so that they also investigate and come to the conclusion that what happened is genocide.

Co-Founder of the Lemkin Institute and Director of Legal Affairs Irene Victoria Massimino in her speech drew attention to the issue of the  integration, which is often exploited by the EU. “How can some government officials ask people who have been discriminated, stigmatized, persecuted in prison, killed and tortured to integrate into a society that discriminates, stigmatizes, persecutes in prison, kills and tortures? Integration is, at a minimum, a naive option,” Massimino said, noting that during the genocidal blockade of the Lachin corridor, the international community had refused to adequately resolve the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh with regard to the right to self-determination. In her opinion, the principle of “separation for salvation” could also be applied.

According to the speaker, diplomatic action could be taken to find a fair solution to the problem based on the demand for autonomy that has lasted for more than three decades. “Now the entire region of Nagorno-Karabakh is left without indigenous Armenians and under the definite and concrete risk that every trace of Armenian identity will be deliberately destroyed forever on this land,” added the Lemkin Institute co-founder.

In her opinion, today there are three important points that the EU should talk about. First, the EU must demand the immediate release of all Armenians illegally detained in Baku. It is necessary to help the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh register their property that they were forced to leave, and immediately create an independent fact-finding mission that will collect all the atrocities committed.

International human rights activist Karnig Kerkonian emphasized in his speech that calling crimes by their names is a legal obligation. According to the speaker, ethnic cleansing is part of a process that leads to crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. According to the human rights activist, the international community, including the EU, had failed to protect the rights of Artsakh Armenians. ''They are now obliged to act towards the urgent restoration of these rights,'' he said.

Kerkorian noted that thinking about the past is necessary for accountability, because there can be no peace without justice.

"The law should be a tool for peace. In case of failure to prevent genocide and other mass crimes, accountability mechanisms should be put in place to determine individual and state responsibility. Responsibility cannot act as an option, but as an absolute necessity or a necessary step for restorative justice," said Kerkorian, emphasizing that even the territorial integrity cannot be a license for crimes and genocide.

During the conference an exchange of ideas took place, the main goal of which was to understand how the European Parliament and MEPs could be useful to the Armenians of Artsakh. Those present noted the Republic of Armenia is also in danger, and inaction could lead to serious consequences.

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS