The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Thursday adopted a resolution strongly condemning the military operation launched by the Azerbaijani army in Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19, as well as what it called Baku’s “clear disregard” for international norms. It also warned Azerbaijan that “the practice of ethnic cleansing, may give rise to individual criminal responsibility under international law.”
In its resolution, the PACE noted the lack of acknowledgment on the part of the leadership of Azerbaijan for the very serious humanitarian and human rights consequences stemming from the blockade of the Lachin Corridor. The factual situation today, with the massive exodus of the almost entire Armenian population from this region, has led to allegations and reasonable suspicion that this can amount to ethnic cleansing.
“The Assembly notes in this respect that the practice of ethnic cleansing, may give rise to individual criminal responsibility under international law, in so far as it has the characteristics of specific war crimes (ordering the displacement of civilian population) or crimes against humanity (deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution against any identifiable group), in accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and general international law. The Assembly notes the strong statements of Azerbaijan refuting such allegations and suspicions and calls upon the authorities to spare no efforts in proving in deeds and words that this is not the case,” emphasized the resolution.
“The Assembly notes that this military operation took place after a ten-month period during which the Armenian population of this region has been denied free and safe access through the Lachin Corridor, the only road allowing it to reach Armenia and the rest of the world, leading to a situation of extremely acute food and supply shortages and high vulnerability of all inhabitants,” said the resolution.
“This was in clear disregard of the provisional and interim measures addressed to Azerbaijan by the International Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights, whose decisions also noted the obligation of Azerbaijan under the 2020 Trilateral Statement to ‘guarantee the security of persons, vehicles and cargo moving along the Lachin Corridor in both directions,’” the PACE emphasized.
“The Assembly deeply regrets that just at a time when the situation concerning the transport of the humanitarian supply to the population seemed to improve and a glimpse of hope was emerging, Azerbaijan took the decision to launch this show of force. Indeed, the combination of acute food and supply shortages for the population over a period of months, followed by a military operation and the opening of the corridor towards Armenia for departures, following each other in such short succession, could be perceived as being designed to incite the civilian population to leave the country,” added the resolution.
“The Assembly strongly believes that this long-standing and tragic conflict can only be resolved peacefully, through dialogue and unambiguous signals of goodwill, and on the basis of the applicable international law, fully respecting the human rights of everyone living there,” the PACE observed.
“Strongly regretting that almost the entire Armenian population of the region – more than 100,600 persons at the time of the adoption of this resolution – has left its ancestral homeland and fled to Armenia, certainly out of genuine fear and a lack of trust in their future treatment by the Azerbaijani authorities, the Assembly recognizes the huge responsibility now placed upon Armenia to cope with the refugee crisis underway,” the text of the resolution said.
“It [PACE] welcomes the declarations of support and solidarity clearly expressed in Armenia for the refugees and calls on the Council of Europe member States to accompany Armenia in this endeavor by providing not only financial support but also expertise, in particular in the area of mental health and psychological support for this traumatized population. The Council of Europe member States should also be ready to demonstrate European solidarity in welcoming a part of the refugee population, should those persons wish to settle elsewhere,” the resolution said.
“The Assembly regrets the human tragedy unfolding today, as well as the long-standing and continuing failure on the part of the authorities of Azerbaijan to reassure the Armenian population of this region of their safety and the full respect of their rights, and to guarantee an approach to their future, free of acts or expressions of reprisals or revenge for the events which took place in the 1990s and during the 2020 war,” the assembly said.