Azeris Lobby for Inclusion of Refugees in Hearings

Strasbourg hearings scheduled for Dec. 16

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–At the end of October an Azeri delegation arrived Strasbourg to take part in scheduled hearings on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict initiated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

While there–the Azeri group went to work on lobbying European officials to include the refugee community Azerbaijan–the so-called Azeris of Karabakh–in the hearings.

This position was opposed by both Armenia and Karabakh–with representatives of the latter stating that the refugees could accompany the Azeri delegation.

The hearing–scheduled for Nov. 3–became moot–due to an eleventh-hour rejection by Azerbaijan to participate.

The Azeri lobbying efforts seemed to have paid off–since current discussion by PACE on the format of the hearings seems to be favoring a quadripartite as opposed to the original tri-partite which included Armenia–Azerbaijan and Karabakh. The fourth party is envisioned to be the refugee community of Azerbaijan.

The verbal agreement was discussed between Armenia’s foreign minister Vartan Oskanian and the PACE chairman who called a vote for changing the format. No conclusions were reported from the said discussion–except that the hearings are not scheduled for Dec. 16 in Paris.

The agreement stipulated that Armenia–Karabakh and Azerbaijan would take part in the Dec. 16 hearings–with the latter party including in its delegation representatives from the Azeri refugee community.

A written text of this decision has not been finalized and a decision on this matter was pending at press-time.

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