Arrest Warrant for Visiting Artsakh ‘Part of Baku’s Campaign’ says EU Observer

Member of European Parliament Jaromír Štětina of Czech Republic (Photo: European Parliament)
Member of European Parliament Jaromír Štětina of Czech Republic (Photo: European Parliament)

Member of European Parliament Jaromír Štětina of Czech Republic (Photo: European Parliament)

STRASBOURG, France—European Parliamentarian Jaromír Štětina of Czech Republic spoke on Friday about the arrest warrants issued by the Azerbaijani court toward him—and his two fellow European parliamentarians—for visiting Artsakh to monitor the February 20 constitutional referendum.

Alongside Štětina, warrants were issued for Frank Engel of Luxembourg and Eleni Theocharous of Cyprus, who were among more than 100 monitors from 30 countries to visit Artsakh for Monday’s vote.

The fact is that Azerbaijani laws do not function in this territory, Štětina said during an interview with Czech news agency Aktualne.

“As a journalist, I visited Karabakh in the [19]90s; during the years of that terrible war. The position of Azerbaijan, which considers Karabakh to be its own, is based on the policy of Stalin, who had annexed this Armenian territory to Azerbaijan, with the rule of ‘divide and conquer.’”

Štětina noted that he and his two colleagues visited the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Republic at the invitation of the Artsakh parliament.

The parliamentarian knew of the possibility of Azerbaijani authorities ordering for his arrest.

“This is a part of Baku’s campaign,” he said, “which began about a month ago when Russian [Israeli] blogger [Alexander] Lapshin was arrested in [the Belarusian capital city of] Minsk; this is a part of the intimidation policy of Azerbaijan.”

When asked if he fears extradition to Baku—similar to that of Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin— Štětina replied “I will not go to Minsk.”

Štětina said that as a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, as Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Security and Defense, “the essence of my work is to visit regions of conflicts, to form my own sense about them.”

Referring to Azerbaijan’s arrest warrants, European Parliamentarian Soraya Post during an interview with Armenpress said “This is not how mature countries conduct their business,” adding that the parliament will have a thorough discussion on how to proceed.

“This will not stand,” she concluded.

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