EAFJD Action Alert Aims to Stop Anti-Karabagh Measures in Europe

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Asbarez)–European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD, ANC of Europe) has initiated a change.org petition and is urging active participation to prevent the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe from adopting pro-Azerbaijani resolutions that can hinder the Nagorno-Karabagh peace process.

EAFJD (ANC of Europe) has initiated a petition to prevent the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe from adopting pro-Azerbaijani resolutions that can hinder the Nagorno-Karabagh peace process.

During sessions in the fall, two Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) subcommittees approved measures that contained pro-Azerbaijani rhetoric on the Nagonro-Karabagh conflict and accused Karabagh of cutting off Azerbaijani water supplies from the Sarsang reservoir.

The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen issued a terse statement at the time, urging international bodies to consult with the Minsk Group before issues resolutions that impede the peace process, which they were tasked to mediate.

The EAFJD is calling on immediate action, via the change.org petition, to put an end to PACE’s “hate-filled war-rhetoric on ‪ ‎Nagorno-Karabagh and the favoritism by some of its members towards ‪Azerbaijan.”



PACE is expected to vote on the following two draft resolutions on Nagorno-Karabagh on Jan. 26, as a joined item on the agenda: 1) draft resolution on “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabagh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan”—rapporteur Robert Walter (UK); 2) draft resolution on “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”—rapporteur Milica Marković (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

The following is the petition text by EAFJD:

The Nagorno-Karabagh conflict is a complex conflict the peaceful settlement of which has no other alternative. Unfortunately these two draft resolutions feed into the hate-filled war rhetoric of the current Azerbaijani government on the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict and promote favoritism. Both draft resolutions evidently lack thorough, impartial research, selectively leave out crucial facts and cause harm to the negotiation process.

I herewith raise my voice against these two draft resolutions with an inflammatory content which have little to do with genuine conflict resolution and peace-building, and promote vested personal and financial interests of a handful of members of PACE.

Further details on the draft resolutions:

1) Draft resolution on “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan”, rapporteur Robert Walter (UK)

As a rapporteur, Mr. Walter violated several rules of the code of conduct of PACE Members such as 1) the principle of neutrality, impartiality and objectivity (rules 1.1; 1.1.1.; 1.1.4); 2) the principle on avoiding conflict of interest (rule 8); 3) the principle on not using one’s position as a PACE member to further one’s own, another person’s, or entity’s interest (rule 12); 4) as well as the principle of respecting the values of the Council of Europe (rule 7).

Mr. Robert Walter and his wife Feride Alp-Walter, marketing manager of the Middle East Association, have maintained a close relationship with the authorities and the ruling elites of Azerbaijan for a long time, including taking a high-level British trade mission to Baku in close cooperation with the Embassy of Azerbaijan and the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS)—a lobbying organization which has strong ties with the Azerbaijani government and [President] Ilham Aliyev’s inner circle.

Mr. Walter’s support for the government of Ilham Aliyev, while turning a blind eye to undemocratic processes in the country, has been frequently criticized by human rights activists in Azerbaijan, respected European watchdogs, such as Corporate Europe Observatory, as well as various well-known international media.

Sadly, just a first glance at the draft resolution is enough to realize that it is a word-for-word reflection of the official Azerbaijani and Turkish stance on the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. Official Turkey has always openly supported Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. Mr. Walter and his wife, both Turkish citizens, have had cozy ties with the Turkish Government. Mr. Walter received his Turkish ID card personally from the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. In 2011, Mr. Çavuşoğlu was among the guests of Mr. Walter’s and Mrs. Feride Alp’s wedding.

Despite its title, the draft resolution by Mr. Robert Walter is far from reflecting the reality on the escalation of tension on the contact line between Armenia and Azerbaijan and around Nagorno-Karabagh in the past months that has led to tragic deaths of civilians.

The draft resolution by Mr. Walter selectively leaves out crucial information. For instance, it fails to mention important facts, including that unlike Armenia, on Sept. 27, 2015, official Azerbaijan dismissed the proposal made by the OSCE Minsk Group to accept an OSCE mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations. The mechanism would enable to identify the initiator of the ceasefire violations and make it difficult for the sides to blame each other for initiating deadly attacks. The logical answer to the question why official Azerbaijan which continuously blames the Armenian side for violating the ceasefire is not interested in such a mechanism, is evident.

This draft report is also a rather dangerous and irresponsible attempt to create a parallel mechanism, without having the necessary legitimacy and the mandate from the parties involved in the conflict. The prompt critical reaction of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group—the sole official body with the mandate to mediate—to the draft resolution by rapporteur Mr. Walter emphasizes the harm it causes to the negotiation process and thus to the peaceful settlement of the conflict.

2) Draft resolution on “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”, rapporteur Milica Marković (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Unfortunately, the draft resolution written by Ms. Milica Marković lacks impartial and thorough research. Despite the prompt invitations of both the Armenian and Nagorno-Karabagh authorities to visit Sarsang reservoir (at “any time convenient for the rapporteur”) as initially requested by rapporteur Milica Marković, neither Ms. Marković nor technical expert Dr. Lydia S. Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia were on the ground. Thus, both the draft resolution and the technical report (which is supposed to be the basis of the draft resolution) are based on the rather approximate simulations of the corresponding Azerbaijani ministry information based on data from 1993, as well as hearsay, although there was clearly an opportunity to visit the reservoir and get acquainted with the actual state of things.

Rapporteur Marković evidently uses this humanitarian issue as a pretext in order to make highly biased statements on the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict in general. A brief comparison of the technical report and the draft resolution, which is supposed to be based on the technical report, makes is clear that Ms. Marković deliberately exaggerated the consequences of potential danger ,or left important facts stated in the technical report out of the draft resolution, since this information does not fit in with her biased intentions.

The technical report drafted by expert Dr. Lydia S. Vamvakeridou-Lyroudia clearly specifies: “Although Sarsang is an earth-fill dam, which in principle is far less dangerous and much more safe when it comes to sudden collapse (e.g. as compared to arched dams), it should be pointed out that without a visual inspection of the dam there is no way to assess its condition and any potential security risks from the technical point of view.” Despite this, the rapporteur and the technical expert opted to ignore the invitation of the authorities of Nagorno-Karabagh to visit Sarsang reservoir and examine the state of inspection and maintenance of the reservoir. Instead, Ms. Marković produced a report which refers to the rather approximate simulations of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency situations, based on more than 22 year-old information.

According to the technical report: “Sarsang alone cannot cause a major flood in the problematic lower Kura region, but the lack of communication between Armenia and Azerbaijan raises fears that unexpected water releases from Sarsang may add to flooding consequences at periods of excessive rainfall in the area.” Nonetheless, instead of urging the sides, to engage in a dialogue in order to ensure a safe management of the reservoir, Ms. Marković demands an “immediate withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the region concerned.”


Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: EAFJD Action Alert Aims to Stop Anti-Karabagh Measures in Europe

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