CANBERRA, Australia – Following meetings with the Armenian National Committee of Australia’s (ANC-AU) largest ever Advocacy Week delegation, two Members of Federal Parliament rose in the House of Representatives on Thursday to condemn Azerbaijan for failing peace in Nagorno Karabakh.
Opposition MP, the Hon. David Feeney (ALP) blasted government Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who after a recent visit to Azerbaijan spoke in favor of the oil-dictatorship’s “territorial integrity” when referring to Artsakh. His speech also exposed the Azerbaijani Laundromat saga, which has revealed the “cash for favorable coverage” campaign being run by the Aliyev regime in Western countries.
Government MP, John Alexander (Liberal) followed Feeney, exposing the fact that the Republic of Artsakh is ready for extra monitoring to promote peace in their region, but Azerbaijan was not.
Feeney, who is the Member for Batman in Victoria, said: “In recent weeks leaked data has revealed that Azerbaijan’s ruling elite operated a secret $2.9 billion scheme to launder money and pay prominent Europeans, including journalists and politicians.”
“This unfolding scandal shows that the Azerbaijani leadership, already accused by Amnesty International and other NGOs of serial human rights abuses, systemic corruptions and rigging elections, made more than 16,000 covert payments from 2012 to 2014 through a network of opaque British companies.”
“Investigations led by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project have revealed that these illicit payments, using reputable banks and secret companies, aimed to buy political influence and launder Azerbaijan’s international image. Just this week, the ASIO annual report warned that foreign governments have been attempting to shape the opinions of the public and the media in covert influence operations.
Turning to Fierravanti-Wells’s contribution to this issue, Feeney added: “New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells visited Azerbaijan recently. Upon her return she stated on the public record, ‘Australia is a forthright supporter of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and strongly supports Azerbaijan’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh.'”
“This bold statement rewrites Australian foreign policy and disregards Australia’s longstanding support of the OSCE Minsk Group peace efforts for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on the principles of equal rights and the self-determination of people. I urge the senator to not give in to caviar diplomacy.”
Alexander, who is the Member for Bennelong, told the House of Representatives: “On 17 October the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe called for a meeting with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss the de-escalation of tensions on the border of the still unrecognized Armenian-populated Republic of Artsakh, previously known as Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“Since the ceasefire between the two countries in 1994, the OSCE has been responsible for promoting negotiations, ceasefire monitoring and conflict resolution.”
He explained: “Three immediate priorities for the de-escalation of tensions have been proposed. The first is the removal of snipers along the line of contact, the second is the increase in the number of OSCE monitors in the region and the third is the establishing of gunfire locator systems as an investigative measurement to determine which side is responsible for future ceasefire violations.”
“These suggestions apply to both sides of the conflict. Armenia is ready to accept the OSCE recommendations; Azerbaijan is not. OSCE suggested that confidence- and security-building measures are a prerequisite for not only the advancement of negotiations but also the stabilization of the region through deterring future aggression.”
“As an OSCE Partner for Co-operation, Australia has a role to play.”
The two speeches completed a week of advocacy for the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU), where issues including justice for the Armenian Genocide, Artsakh’s rights for self-determination and more local community issues, including refugee resettlement, were discussed with over 30 legislators and bureaucrats.
“We thank Mr. Feeney and Mr. Alexander for their statements,” said ANC-AU Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian. “It is a groundbreaking day for Artsakh advocacy in Australia when two politicians from the country’s two major parties rise consecutively to condemn an aggressive and corrupt Azeri regime, while promoting the rights to self-determination that will bring peace and protect the Armenians of the Nagorno Karabakh region.”
On the evening of Tuesday 17th October, a special screening of the Armenian Genocide-era Hollywood epic, The Promise took place at the Australian Parliament House (click here to read report).
The 11-strong ANC-AU delegation was joined by ANC America Communications Director, Elizabeth Chouldjian, who is the organization’s guest speaker at its Annual Banquet on Friday, 20th October.
Watch video of Feeney statement by clicking here.
Watch video of Alexander statement by clicking here.