PACE Supports Karabakh Self Determination

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–On September 21–the Committee of Ministers Deputies of the Council of Europe unanimously accepted a document where it clearly defines the principle of self-determination as an international legal norm which is applied equally and unreservedly with the Helsinki Final Act principles–according to the RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release from Monday.

The document was adopted in response to a question by Mrs. Hajiyeva–an Azerbaijani member of PACE–to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe–where she demanded that the Committee obligate Armenia’s acceptance of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. With this document–the Council of Europe Ministers Deputies not only did not accept Azerbaijan’s request–but reaffirmed the equality–in international law–of the people’s right to self-determination and the right of states to territorial integrity.

Asbarez has obtained the official text of the Council of Europe’s decision of the meeting held on September 19–which states that–"It follows that the Committee of Ministers–has explicitly reaffirmed its support for the respect of all internationally-recognized borders–sovereignty and territorial integrity of all members of the Council of Europe–whilst equally acknowledging the value of other principles of international law. The right to self-determination of peoples and the other principles contained in the Helsinki final act will be equally and unreservedly applied–each of them being interpreted taking into account the others. Thus the right to self-determination should be respected–in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with norms of international law–including those relating to territorial integrity of states. Consequently–this right may only be exercised following peaceful negotiations. Use of force for the purpose of acquiring territory is unacceptable and any resultant acquisition cannot be recognized as lawful."

The statement said that the Ministers support internationally recognized borders–sovereignty–and territorial integrity of the nations in Europe according to the UN Charter–the Helsinki Act–and any other relevant texts. The council also pointed out that all the principles and international laws are considered equal. No international principle or law has precedents over another. The Council urged both countries to take all the necessary steps to find a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict–because "hatred–enmity–and poverty are not fertile grounds for democracy and stability in the region."

The Armenian delegation to the Council of Europe circulated several documen’s–addressed to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers for discussion in the Strasbourg–September 24-25 meeting. One of which calls for a discussion about the belligerent calls from Azerbaijan regarding the Karabakh conflict settlement. A letter signed by Hovhaness Hovhannissian states that "the top administration of Azerbaijan–including President Heydar Aliyev–has been calling to resume hostilities–aiming to resolve the Karabakh conflict by force." The letter stresses that upon their accession to the Council of Europe both Armenia and Azerbaijan had committed themselves to finding a peaceful settlement to the Karabakh conflict.

The letter asks the Minister’s Committee to urge Azerbaijan–"to refrain from making statemen’s which may jeopardize the peaceful settlement of the conflict."

Hovhannissian also presented an inquiry calling for a discussion about Turkey’s blockade of Armenia–because of which Armenia’s economy continually sustains huge losses.

The Armenian delegation also addressed another letter to the leadership PACE with respect to its August 24 statement–which described the elections to the local governmental bodies in Nagorno Karabakh as "illegitimate."

"Formation of local governmental bodies through elections is the only way to establish a democratic and civil society," it reads. Citing the PACE statement in question which said that the elections were not legitimate because a portion of former Karabakh population–namely the Azerbaijani community–could not participate in the elections. The letter says that "refraining from elections would have meant depriving the majority of the people from the right to vote and organize their social life through elections," continues the letter.

It also says that under such an approach any election in Azerbaijan could be regarded as illegitimate as well because 500,000 Armenia’s had to flee Azerbaijan to escape pogroms of the late 1980s and early 90s.

"It is evident that the authorities–formed on the basis of fair and free elections–enjoy the confidence of the population and are authorized to conduct political negotiations and consequently they carry the responsibility for their political and legal obligations towards the international community," states the letter.

The Armenian delegation also presented the draft resolution "Condemnation of Azerbaijan’s appeals for settling the Karabakh conflict by force," signed by Armen Rustamian and other delegation members. The resolution states–"Overtly violating their commitmen’s–Azerbaijan’s authorities make statemen’s containing threats to settle the conflict in a violent way. This is the result of illegal refusal to recognize the right to self-determination and consistent attempt to exert military pressure in peaceful exercise of this right."

The resolution entitled "The preservation of historical and cultural heritage of the Karabakh" was presented by Ashot Galoyan.

Three members of the Armenian delegation–Hovhaness Hovhannissian–Armen Rustamian–and Ashot Galoyan made speeches during the discussion of the issue of struggle against terrorism.

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