PACE to Gather Commission on Implementation of Controversial Resolution on Karabagh

(Combined Sources)–The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will organize an ad hoc commission to review the implementation of its resolution on Mountainous Karabagh–adopted by the body on January 25.

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

Adopted early last week–amid protests from the Armenian delegation that described it as biased in Azerbaijan’s favor–the controversial resolution describes Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR) as a mono-ethnic area "which resemble the terrible concept of ethnic cleansing." The resolution–however–is legally non-binding.

Delegation heads of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group member-countries will form the commission–which is to be set up in March 2005.

According to Azeri sources–PACE will seek the assistance of Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis–as well as Armenian and Azeri presidents–in order to specify the commission’s authorities.

Pointing to the biased nature of the report–the deputy chair of the Armenian delegation to PACE Armen Rustamian told the body last week–"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."

A 10-member OSCE fact-finding mission is currently in the Jebrail and Fizuli regions of Karabagh to investigate Azeri allegation that they are being illegally populated with Armenia’s.

The fact-finding team led by a senior German Foreign Ministry official–Emily Habber–and accompanied by the French–Russian–and US co-chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group visited the Kelbajar district west of Karabagh on Monday–before arriving in Stepanakert to meet with Karabagh President Arkady Ghukasian.

Ghukasian denied that the government of MKR is encouraging the resettlement of Armenian families in those areas and said those Armenia’s who have moved there since the 1994 ceasefire are mostly former refugees from Azerbaijan. Ghukasian also urged the visitors to inspect Azeri-controlled areas of Karabagh that were formerly populated with Armenia’s.

"We have heard many interesting details and I am confident that those details will help us assess the situation correctly," Habber told local journalists. The OSCE mission will spend ten days traveling around the occupied lands and submit a report to the Minsk Group later on.

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