NICOSIA, Cyprus—During the 127th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on May 19, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Edward Nalbandian delivered statement highlighting Azerbaijan’s continued ceasefire violations against the Artsakh Republic, Armenia’s parliamentary elections on April 2, and offenses on cultural property.
Nalbandian’s speech can be read below.
Mr. Secretary General,
Dear Ioannis, dear friend, congratulations for your successful chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. The priorities of the Cyprus Chairmanship were well placed to address the current challenges that the Europe faces.
Protection of cultural heritage in particular is important for the Armenian people that have suffered immense losses of cultural legacy throughout its history and most recently in Azerbaijan by the hands of its government and in Syria by the terrorist groups. In this regard, we welcome the adoption of the Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property.
Another focus of the Chairmanship on Democracy through Education is an important dimension of fostering inclusive and tolerant societies. The right of people to their memory, their right to teaching and learning history of past tragedies through education and remembrance has a pivotal role in preventing genocides and crimes against humanity.
It is commendable that in his annual report on the “State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law” the Secretary General has highlighted populism, which is particularly dangerous, when combined with state sponsored hate speech and xenophobia. Free media, education for democratic citizenship and human rights, active civil society are essential in overcoming this phenomenon. Moreover, the notion of “rule of law” represents a concept that is diametrically opposed to “the rule by force” or “use of force.”
We already had an opportunity to share another view of the Secretary General on the concept of “Democratic Security,” according to which democracies are less likely to go to war. Obviously, authoritarian regimes do not face this dilemma.
Such a case was witnessed during new large-scale offensive in April 2016, when Azerbaijan committed gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Two Summits were convened after the April aggression of Azerbaijan, where agreements were reached aimed at creating conducive conditions for advancement of the peace process. Baku refuses to implement these agreements although their importance has been highlighted on numerous occasions, including during April 28 trilateral meeting of ministers of foreign affairs of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Moreover, Baku continues the gross violations of the trilateral cease-fire agreements in defiance to the consistent calls of the Co-Chair countries and the international community.
We value the recent initiatives that call on the equal application of the pan-European human rights instruments to the whole continent without distinction, including in the conflict zones. It is the primary goal of Council of Europe to ensure that the common values and individual rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights are not dependent on the status of the territory where people live.
On the April 2nd the parliamentary elections were held in Armenia. They were marked by unprecedented high number of international observers, who stated that the elections were well administered, fundamental freedoms were respected, and the results reflected the will of the population.
Armenia highly appreciates the contribution of international partners to its reforms aimed at consolidating the democratic institutions and the electoral process, in particular the expertise provided by the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission. We look forward to the continuation of fruitful cooperation in this regard.
Regarding the recent institutional crisis and credible reports on corruption in the PACE, we join the calls for full investigation of the situation in order to rectify the damage done to this Organization.
And finally, I want to use the opportunity to wish all the success to the incoming chairmanship of the Czech Republic.