UN Panel Recomments Debate on Occupied Azeri Lands

YEREVAN (RFE-RL)–A key United Nations committee has backed Azerbaijan’s calls for the UN General Assembly to discuss the resettlement of Armenian families on Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani territories around Mountainous Karabagh.

Meeting in New York on Wednesday–the UN’s General Committee voted to recommend the inclusion of the issue on the agenda of the assembly’s ongoing session. The move was demanded by Azerbaijan and strongly backed by representatives of Muslim nations–including Pakistan and Turkey–which sit on the panel.

The recommendation was considered to have passed–even though only 9 of the 28 committee members voted for it–while 14 others–including a US diplomat–abstained. There were no votes against. The General Assembly now has to decide whether it wants to consider the issue.

Azerbaijan’s permanent representative to the UN–Yashar Aliyev–reportedly accused Armenia’s of building settlemen’s on the occupied lands. "Azerbaijan will not tolerate colonization of its territory," he said. Aliyev called for international pressure on Armenia which he said is keen to change "the demographic situation" in the zone of the Mountainous Karabagh conflict.

Aliyev’s Armenian counterpart Armen Martirosian–opposed a debate on the issue and denied the existence of an Armenian policy of resettlement. A French member of the UN committee–speaking on behalf of the French–Russian–and US co-chairs of the Minsk Group–also spoke out against raising the issue with the General Assembly–warning of "negative consequences" for the peace process.

"We state once again that there is no official policy of resettlement," the spokesman for the Armenian Foreign Ministry–Hamlet Gasparian–said in a statement earlier on Wednesday. He accused Baku of seeking to deflect international attention from Karabagh’s future status.

Continued Armenian control of Lachin seems to have been upheld by all peace proposals put forward by the mediators over the past decade.

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