European Parliament Calls on Azerbaijan to Halt Destruction of Armenian Monumen’s

European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) Resolution on South Caucasus also urges Turkey to end its blockade of Armenia

STRASBOURG–On January 19–2006 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on European Neighborhood Policy on the South Caucasus that includes provisions calling on Azerbaijan to end its destruction of traditional Armenian cultural sites–and urges Turkey to end its blockade of Armenia–reported the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD).

The report was prepared by Charles Tannock–MEP (EPP-ED–UK) following the European Council’s February 2004 decision to integrate the South Caucasus into its European Neighborhood Policy.

The two most striking elemen’s of the resolution deal with Azeri and Turkish actions against Armenia’s. The first urges "Azerbaijani authorities to stop the ongoing destruction of medieval Armenian cemeteries and historic carved stone crosses in Southern Nakhichevan." The second exhorts Turkey to "play a constructive role" in the region and asks Turkey to "open its frontier with Armenia."

The resolution also notes that–"the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict impedes development between Armenian and Azerbaijan–regional cooperation–and the effective establishment of the European Neighborhood Policy." It calls for dialogue between "all parties concerned," on the basis of minority rights and respect for international legal principles. Furthermore–it asks the concerned parties to allow for refugees to "gradually return–particularly Azeris from the occupied territories."

"We congratulate the author of this report for his open-minded approach and spirit of consensus-building in the improvement of the provision dealing with the Karabagh conflict. His intervention was certainly decisive in preventing the adoption of the initial unbalanced version of the text," commented European Armenian Federation Chairperson–Hilda Tchoboian.

"We are gratified that the terrible destruction of Armenian cultural heritage in Julfa was–at the very least–taken into consideration by an international institution such as the European Parliament. However–the annihilation of these sacred ‘khatchkars’ [carved stone crosses] by the Azerbaijani armed forces must be forcefully condemned and punished by European authorities–in particular the Council of the European Union. This desecration must be responded to at the same level as the international community’s protest of the dynamiting of the Bamiyan Buddhas by Talibans in 2001," concluded Hilda Tchoboian.

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