Opinion from Yerevan: “The world failed to condemn aggression in Karabakh, and now Europe is in danger”
The second Karabakh and Russo-Ukranian wars
In Armenia, security experts said that “by not condemning the aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh, the world community has set a precedent for resolving conflicts by military means. And now, amid the war in Ukraine, Europe is in danger”.
“If even 10% of the sanctions that are now applied against Russia were imposed against Azerbaijan, then the 2020 war in Karabakh would not have lasted for 44, but for 4 days”. This opinion was expressed by human rights activist Siranush Sahakyan during the event “Armenophobia in Azerbaijan, the danger of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh“.
Discussions on this topic in Yerevan were organized by the Anti-Corruption Center Transparency International and the Partnership for an Open Society initiative.
Human rights activists, security experts and the Armenian Ombudsman talk about Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian policy, as well as the international reaction to the Karabakh and Ukrainian wars.
- Live updates: Russia-Ukraine crisis, day 7
- How can anti-Russian sanctions affect Armenia?
- Op-ed: “Armenia stays neutral in conflict between Russia and Ukraine”
“Hatred was not prevented and became a threat to the whole continent”
The event was attended by representatives of international and local human rights organizations, ambassadors of foreign countries, the Armenian Ombudsman, members of the government.
Newly elected human rights defender Kristine Grigoryan stressed in her speech that both during the Soviet years and after independence, Armenophobia in Azerbaijan is state policy.
According to the Ombudsman, the second Karabakh war was accompanied by propaganda of hatred and enmity, and after the war, Armenophobia took “the most extreme manifestations”. To support her words, Kristine Grigoryan quoted excerpts from the speeches of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
The representative of the Armenian branch of the organization “Open Society Foundations” David Amiryan said that manifestations of hatred can be observed not only in relation to Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh. In his opinion, the Ukrainian events are “a continuation of the same logical chain”:
“Hatred was not prevented in such a small geographical area as Artsakh, and now it has become a threat to the whole continent, all of Europe is talking about it”.
The speakers said that hatred towards ethnic Armenians has been sown in Azerbaijan since kindergarten, and that the propaganda of hatred, including towards Armenian cultural values, is of a systemic nature.
According to the representative of Armenia to the European Court of Human Rights, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, the damage and destruction of these valuables in the territories now under the control of Azerbaijan is “a deliberate, purposeful process, an attempt to erase the Armenian ethnic presence”.
According to Araks Melkonyan, president of the NGO “Protection of Rights Without Borders”, the destruction of cultural property indicates Azerbaijan’s intention to destroy the Armenian trace in NK. In order to prevent the disappearance and distortion of the Armenian cultural identity, the expert considers the visit of the UNESCO mission in the near future to be extremely important.
Expert on Azerbaijan Tatevik Hayrapetyan said that after the war, Azerbaijan is taking actions that would force the Armenians to leave both the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh, which remained under the control of the Armenian side, and the border regions of Armenia.
“Azerbaijan carries out specific terrorist actions against the inhabitants, for example, it takes away livestock, depriving them of their livelihood, constantly creating a situation so that people do not consider it possible for their children to live in such conditions”.
Nagorno-Karabakh – Ukraine: the reaction of the international community
Armenia’s representative to the European Court of Human Rights, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, considers it necessary to “bring Azerbaijan’s further behavior” in line with international law. And for this, the international community must react harshly to any violations of human rights committed by the authorities of this country:
“The policy pursued by Azerbaijan significantly violates the fundamental principles and norms of international law, and this fact must always remain, at least in the spotlight, discussed by the international community”.
Human rights activist Siranush Sahakyan recalled that to date “there is no assessment of the aggression of Azerbaijan and Turkey in Karabakh”, and in the case of Ukraine there are not only assessments, but also “serious economic sanctions”:
“I am sure that if 10% of these sanctions were applied against Azerbaijan, the war would last not 44, but 4 days – and with different results”.
International relations and security expert Sose Tatikyan also said that the reaction of the international community was “polar opposite” in the case of NK and Ukraine:
“If in the case of Nagorno-Karabakh there were vague statements that artificially put an equal sign and called on both sides [of the conflict] to stop violence and the use of force, now Russia is unequivocally condemned. And Ukraine has received a lot of support from the international community”.
According to the expert, it will be difficult for Armenian diplomats to express their position on the war with Ukraine, given the allied relations with Russia. She says that the Armenian side should carefully control its position, adhering to neutrality.
At the same time, in her opinion, it should be conveyed to the international community that by avoiding the condemnation of the Karabakh war, “a precedent was created for resolving conflicts by military means in other regions – in violation of the UN Charter”.