STEPANAKERT, APRIL 20 , ARTSAKHPRESS: There is a widespread opinion among the residents of Artsakh that they are abandoned by the international community, while Azerbaijan continues to violate its international obligations without any consequences.
In this regard, "Artsakhpress" interviewed Artsakh National Assembly Speaker Arthur Tovmasyan about the expectations, in particular, from the Council of Europe, an organisation mandated to protect human rights throughout its geographical territory, which also includes Artsakh.
-Mr. Tovmasyan, it is widely believed among the residents of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) that they largely feel abandoned by the international community, while Azerbaijan continues to violate its international obligations without any consequences. What are your expectations, in particular, from the Council of Europe, an organisation mandated to protect human rights throughout its geographical territory, which also includes Artsakh?
- First of all, it should be noted that as part of informing the international community about the humanitarian and human rights implications of blocking the Lachin Corridor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) addressed letters to the leadership of the Council of Europe and all member States with a request to take urgent action to prevent further violations by Azerbaijan of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Reacting to this situation, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Commissioner for Human Rights and the PACE co-rapporteurs for Armenia and Azerbaijan issued statements calling for the opening of the corridor, whereas the European Court of Human Rights indicated interim measures to Azerbaijan. Following a current affairs debate in January, a report on “Addressing the Humanitarian Consequences of the Blockade of the Lachin Corridor” is now under preparation at the Parliamentary Assembly.
At the same time, we are deeply disappointed by the lack of a targeted call by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who, after a very weak statement made on 15 December 2022, preferred to remain silent in the face of the ongoing blockade and the publicly stated goal of ethnic cleansing of Artsakh. While all leading international human rights watchdogs continue to sound the alarm and call for urgent action to end the blockade of Artsakh, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe has distanced herself from this human rights crisis by demonstrating double standards and a selective approach to fulfilling her duties and the mandate of the organisation as a whole. This is also the case with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Silence and inaction of such high-ranking officials is tantamount to consent, if not complicity, when it comes to a situation where more than a hundred thousand people on the territory of the Council of Europe remain abandoned in the face of massive violations of human rights, ingrained hatred, physical and psychological terror by the autocratic regime of Azerbaijan and its state apparatus.
The leadership of the Council of Europe must finally live up to the ideals and values of the organisation and act in the interests of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people, and not be guided by the principle of political expediency. Human rights and the rule of law must not be sacrificed for shameful economic and political calculations. Each new day of the Azerbaijani blockade on Nagorno-Karabakh is another day of disgrace and connivance for this crime by those who have an international mandate and the necessary tools for protection, but choose not to act. We reiterate our call to the Council of Europe and its leadership to act decisively, in the name of protecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
We expect from the Committee of Ministers an unequivocal political assessment of Azerbaijan's barbaric actions and the use of all available tools, including sending a fact-finding mission, to put an end to the policy of ethnic cleansing and call official Baku to account for failure to comply with its statutory, membership and conventional obligations. As the Council of Europe prepares for its 4th Summit, it must show in practice that human rights are universal and that the organisation puts declared values above political and economic benefits.