Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour for me to participate in an event at the European Parliament on such an important topic as “Armenophobia: historical and present-day resurgence”. As a legislator and chairperson of the parliament of Artsakh, I attach particular importance to the fact that our today's meeting is taking place at the very premises of the European Union Parliament - an organization that is a pioneer of democracy, law and solidarity not only for the peoples of the European family, but also for the whole world.
In this sense, we must pay tribute to both governmental and non-governmental organizations operating in a European environment, whose daily work is aimed at establishing dialogue, mutual respect and peace throughout the world. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank all the organizers of today's event, the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) and the Tufenkian Foundation, as well as member of the European Parliament and great friend of the people of Artsakh, Ms. Eleni Theocharous - a person, whose career is evidence of her commitment to struggle for the values mentioned above.
In our time, xenophobia has become one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, which in any of its manifestations destroys the atmosphere of co-operation in various parts of the globe. It is even more dangerous when xenophobia and hate speech become a state policy, calling into question the peaceful coexistence of peoples in the short and long term. And despite the measures taken by the international community, including the legal instruments adopted by international institutions and the practical steps towards their implementation, we have not yet fully managed to introduce effective tools to counter xenophobia. In this context, we can only succeed when everyone understands that a society poisoned with xenophobia can never and under no circumstances create a public and universal value; on the contrary, those who promote xenophobia eventually end up in their own trap.
I regret to say that as a people, Armenians living in Artsakh, Armenia and the Diaspora are confronted daily with Armenophobic policies developed and co-ordinated by the Azerbaijani authorities. This phenomenon is not new in our neighbouring country. Moreover, hatred towards Armenians in Azerbaijan has become an integral part of shaping their own national identity, and in conditions of unresolved conflict, it is used by the Azerbaijani authorities as an effective tool to mislead their own people.
Back in July 1988, the European Parliament, albeit with a delay, addressed the issue of massacre of the Armenian population of the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait in February of the same year, organized and carried out by the authorities with a clear manifestation of Armenophobia. In its resolution, the parliament condemned the actions of the Azerbaijani authorities, which threatened directly the life of the Armenian population and called on the Soviet authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable within the law. Taking advantage of the inadequate response of the Soviet state and the atmosphere of impunity, official Baku further continued its Armenophobic behaviour in Baku, Kirovabad and a number of other towns, and by the end of 1991, unleashed a full-scale war against the Armenians of Artsakh struggling for their rights.
Unfortunately, today it continues along the same line. Azerbaijan is trying to distort the reality by sowing Armenophobia in kindergartens, schools and other educational institutions, by propagating hate speech in scientific works and in the media, and by spending huge resources on foreign official and unofficial circles. In order to counter this misinformation, we encourage our foreign partners to visit Artsakh and get acquainted with the situation on the spot.
The resolution of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict is based on a very simple formula. As long as you do not see an opponent in your adversary, and in the long run even a partner, it is very difficult, if not impossible to build a bridge of trust that can restore good neighbourly relations among peoples living next to each other. I am confident that this simple truth is also understood in neighbouring Azerbaijan, but in this case, it is surprising who their constant complaints and grievances about delaying the resolution of the conflict are directed to.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am convinced that any event organized in this format helps us identify the nature of obstacles impeding human development and join efforts to seek and find a way out of any difficult situation. So, again, welcoming all participants, I wish all useful discussions.