On March 17, the RA NA deputy, the member of the RA NA delegation to PACE Armen Gevorgyan gave a speech at the meeting of PACE Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.
As I am sure you know, it has been 95 days, and counting, that Azerbaijan has enforced a blockade of the Lachin Corridor connecting Nagorno Karabakh with Armenia and outside world. In this period Azerbaijan has also deliberately disrupted the energy supply from Armenia to the Republic of Artsakh, both natural gas and electricity. This is nothing else, but a siege of Nagorno Karabakh with a view of expelling its indigenous population.
For the purposes of our Committee I would focus only on human rights in the fields of public health, education, and environment. The negative consequences of the blockade, first and foremost, have detrimental effects on children and the young people, who in the cold winter months were literally deprived of their right to education at schools, universities, and kindergartens. The Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Artsakh in partnership with the former Ombudsman of Armenia released an evidence-based report recently where they simply portray an unimaginable picture. Let me cite a passage: “Due to the absence of proper conditions for heating in cold winter weather, absence of necessities for cooking hot meals, lack of nutritious food supplies for organising school feeding, the educational process in Artsakh has been paralyzed, as all the educational institutions in Artsakh had to suspend their activities until further notice. As a result, the fundamental right to education of 20,000 children of Artsakh is being grossly violated by the criminal policy of Azerbaijan...” This report is only one of testimonies of the most pressing effects and consequences of the ongoing Azerbaijani blockade of Nagorno Karabakh on its children’s fundamental rights, inter alia, the right to proper healthcare, the right to family reunification, the right to freedom of movement, the right to proper nutrition and the right to education.
The silence or lack of decisive response against the state policy of aggressive xenophobia and war crimes against Armenians by such democratic institutions as the Council of Europe is being utilised by Azerbaijan to destroy the actions of those who are not politically as constrained, as our Organization. When the authorities of Azerbaijan are being called out by the European Parliament or the International Court of Justice, they seek shelter at this organisation to undermine the others and the decisions of reputable international courts.
Allow me to mention two examples: on December 21, 2022 the Strasbourg Court demanded that the Government of Azerbaijan should take all necessary measures that were within their jurisdiction to ensure safe passage through the “Lachin Corridor.” In the January session our Assembly adopted Resolution 2483 “calling for the monitoring of Azerbaijan's implementation of [the Strasbourg Court's] decision regarding the Lachin Corridor, and call[ed] for the immediate and full implementation of the interim measures decided by the Court.” I have heard of no reasonable, decisive step to have been taken.
Next, on February 22, 2023, the International Court of Justice ordered provisional measures to ensure that Azerbaijan ends the blockage of the Lachin Corridor. The order, which has a binding effect, states that the Republic of Azerbaijan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement along the Lachin Corridor in both directions.
Despite these two court orders, the blockade is still there.
Does the abovementioned suggest that we are witnessing a collapse of the international legal order? How can the orders of the UN Court, of the European Court and other recommendations of the Council of Europe bodies be ignored with impunity? We are most likely experiencing a collapse of the global security order, and - while that is happening - also being pushed to make bad choices between justice and human rights on one side, and geopolitical expediency and energy security on the other.
The most important aspect to keep in mind vis-a-vis the UN Court's order is that it is in the framework of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In other words, for many years we have been presenting that the Azerbaijani state policy aims to ethnically cleanse and otherwise spread hatred and discrimination against Armenians. Now the UN Court has testified to that. This has to be a clear red light for the international community that there is simply no future for Armenians within the jurisdiction of a state, which aims to exterminate them - by a state policy, yet with impunity. This is not politics. This is a real danger.
The Europe as a whole, I think, has to acknowledge the obvious: Mr Aliyev does not honor or adhere to terms and conditions. He began using force and his “pipeline” stick to solve his own issues - at home and against Armenians. Now he is also disregarding the orders of international courts. Who can give any assurances to Armenian people, that the “peace” that is much being spoken about, will be long term and unconditional in the present circumstances?
Thank you for your attention,” the deputy noted.