PACE Adopts Controversial Resolution Mountainous Karabagh Presented by Atkinson

BRUSSELS (EAFJD/RFE-RL)–The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) approved on Tuesday a controversial resolution on Mountainous Karabagh–amid protests from the Armenian delegation–which described the draft resolution and its appending report biased in Azerbaijan’s favor.

Prepared by David Atkinson (Democrat) from the United Kingdom–the resolution notes that "considerable parts of the territory of Azerbaijan are still occupied by Armenian forces" and that "separatist forces are still in control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region." The resolution also describes Mountainous Karabagh Republic as a mono-ethnic area "which resemble the terrible concept of ethnic cleansing."

"The Atkinson report is the report of Azerbaijan. This country believes that shifting the institutional framework will turn its crimes into virtues. Attempts of ethnic cleansing actually occurred but–contrary to Mr. Atkinson insinuations–it was the policy led by Baku," the executive director of the European Armenian Federation (EAFJD) Laurent Leylekian explained prior to the vote. "Without the fight for self-determination led by the people of Karabagh–theses historically Armenian territories would no longer house Armenia’s–as is the case today in the region of Nakhichevan or throughout the areas of Eastern Turkey," he added.

The majority of PACE delegates on Tuesday supported a demand made by Bulgarian parliamentarian Evgeni Kirilov that Azerbaijan be free of any occupying troops. "There cannot be territories occupied by force–or there cannot be any prospect of joining any territories by force to [any] country," he said.

The resolution calls on Azeri authorities to establish contacts with Karabagh’s leaders–which they have persistently refused to do–and to refrain from any attempts to retake lost territory by force.

Pointing to the biased nature of the report–the deputy chair of the Armenian delegation to PACE–and a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Armen Rustamian–said he believes Atkinson’s resolution will not only hinder the peace process–but will also serve as an incentive for Azerbaijan to forcefully restore its territorial integrity.

"Azerbaijan is expecting to use this document as a justification to issue an ultimatum it has been preparing for a long time. Azerbaijan wants to solve the [Karabagh] issue according to its own scenario–that is–through war," he said–addressing the Assembly in French.

French parliamentarian Francois Rochebloine publicly questioned the impartiality of Atkinson’s report: "It seems to me that–for the sake of objectivity–this report should have given a more balanced view of the position of the Armenian side and its readiness to negotiate."

The Armenian government has so far not reacted to the Atkinson report.

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