STRASBOURG, France—Member of European Parliament Sajjad Karim—Co-Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia and EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Association Committees—published a statement on Tuesday expressing his dissent toward the Azerbaijan arrest warrants issued against the European Parliamentarians who monitored the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Republic elections on February 20.
Karim affirmed that although there was no official observation mission organized by the European Parliament, the parliamentarians “are free to visit areas of their choosing and promote their individual beliefs.”
“The issuing of an international arrest order is unwelcome, unhelpful and undesirable,” he further stated.
Arrest warrants were issued for parliamentarians Frank Engel of Luxembourg and Eleni Theocharous of Cyprus, and Jaromír Štětina of Czech Republic, who were among more than 100 monitors from 30 countries to visit Artsakh for the elections.
“The fact is that Azerbaijani laws do not function in this territory,” Štětina said on February 24 in an interview with Czech news agency Aktualne. “This is a part of Baku’s campaign,” he continued, “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.”
The full text of the Karim’s statement can be read below.
“Azerbaijani Prosecutor General has issued three international arrest warrants, this week, against MEPs Eleni Theocharous, Frank Engel and Jaromir Štětina for having visited Nagorno-Karabakh and having, through their behavior, supported the self-proclaimed local statehood. On 20 February, the MEPs named above carried out “observations” of a process organized locally in Nagorno-Karabakh.
No official European Parliament observation mission has been organized in Nagorno-Karabakh. Any impression given contrary to this is therefore without merit and completely unfounded.
Whilst MEPs are free to visit areas of their choosing and promote their individual beliefs. At the same time the MEPs should responsibly pay attention to the obvious fragility of the ceasefire and the need to support the political mediation processes in Nagorno-Karabakh and be clear of their unofficial individual status for all such visits.
The issuing of an international arrest order is unwelcome, unhelpful and undesirable; it also exaggerates the importance to be attached to this individual MEPs visit.
What is needed is the re-invigoration of the Minsk Group process and a political mediation to take the peoples living in the area, and the states concerned, from the current, too long, protracted conflict to stable peace, economic revitalization and decent living conditions. This should be the drive of our political activity, when we conduct it openly and transparently via the official bodies of the EP.
We look forward to all three named MEPs declaring the basis of this visit as per declaration requirements for all MEPs.”