YEREVAN (Panorama)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian attended and addressed the first session of the newly-formed United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council. The opening ceremony on Monday was attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as well as High Commissioner for Human Rights–Louise Arbour.
In his statement–on Wednesday–June 21–Armenia’s Minister congratulated the Council on its inaugural meeting and discussed the importance of the institution.
"It is as easy to look into our neighbor’s living room as our own. To hear the screams next door and do nothing will be as difficult as ignoring uproar at home," he said.
In speaking about Armenia’s neighbors and regional security–Minister Oskanian noted that "Armenia has and continues to promote stronger international mechanisms to prevent and eradicate the crime of genocide–and all of its precursors including efforts–too often successful–at not just cleansing a region of its indigenous people–but also erasing their memory. Armenia’s have survived and gone on to live through each of these attempts. Even today–in the 21st century–we have watched helplessly as the spiritual and cultural markers of our people are decimated."
He went on to refer to the destruction of the Julfa Cemetery in Nakhichevan–Azerbaijan. "This most recent manifestation of organized violence–in a place where no Armenia’s live today–and far from the Nagorno Karabakh conflict area–tells us that neither Azerbaijan’s methods nor its intent has changed. Such unambivalent–callous demolition of culture and history also destroys trust and peace."
In speaking about the present state of negotiations with Azerbaijan on the settlement of the Karabagh conflict–the Oskanian said–"If Azerbaijan’s one step forward–one step back approach in the negotiations was simply alarming–their recent–desperate offers of autonomy are concrete examples of a retreat from the letter and spirit of these talks–and clearly not in sync with international trends. Offering autonomy to a people who have for nearly two decades been in control of their lives on their own historic lands is at the very least–self-deception."