Canadian Delegation Discusses Bilateral Relations with Officials in Armenia and Artsakh
Stepanakert, Artsakh – A Canadian delegation headed by Rev. Majed el-Shafie, founder and president of One Free World International, and Members of Parliament the Hon. Tony Clement and Rachael Harder—shadow ministers of Public Services and Procurement and the Status of Women, respectively, held several meetings with high ranking officials in the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh during their four-day fact-finding mission in the area. Accompanying the delegation was the Republic of Artsakh’s permanent representative in North America, Mr. Robert Avetisyan and the Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) Sevag Belian.
“Reciprocal bilateral exchanges between the two countries is one of the most important factors contributing to the advancement of relations between Canada and Armenia. We are hopeful that such visits will take place more often and they will create the necessary conditions for Canada to establish a permanent diplomatic mission in Armenia” said Belian.
During their meetings with Armenia’s Foreign Affairs and Defence ministers, as well as the speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, on August 29th, the sides discussed various issues pertaining to the expansion of bilateral relations between Canada and Armenia, regional developments, the ongoing peace process in the Artsakh conflict and the importance of protecting the self-determination of the people of Artsakh.
While in Yerevan, the delegation also visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial, where they paid their respect to the 1.5 million innocent victims that lost their lives during the Armenian Genocide.
“The ongoing denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government and Azerbaijan’s continuous aggression against Artsakh is the continuation of the very same genocide that the Armenian people were subjected to 102 years ago” said Rev. Majed El-Shafie, head of the delegation and founder and president of One Free World International.
From September 30 to September 1st, the delegation was hosted by the Republic of Artsakh, where similar meetings were held with the President of the Republic of Artsakh, the speaker of the National Assembly and the ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs. The delegation also visited the frontlines and the towns and villages that saw heavy destruction by the Azerbaijani army in April 2016.
“This war is not only your war. It’s a war for humanity. While we are calling for the peaceful resolution of this conflict, we have to understand that Artsakh has the right to exist and defend itself” said Rev. El-Shafie.
In Stepanakert, the delegation informed the government that they arrived in Artsakh to conduct a fact-finding investigation on the violations of the international humanitarian law and military crimes committed by Azerbaijan during the large-scale aggression launched against Artsakh in April 2016.
“Our message is very simple and very clear. The rights of humans and the rights of the Armenian people need to be protected” said MP Rachael Harder.
“We believe it is in the best interest of both Armenia and Azerbaijan to reach a peaceful resolution and to arrive at a solution that respects and honours the homeland of the Armenian people” concluded Harder.
Government officials in Stepanakert welcomed the initiative of the delegation and stressed the importance of raising general awareness within the international community about the motives and consequences of the Azerbaijan’s aggressive politics and to properly condemn those responsible for advancing the criminal activity of the Azerbaijani authorities.
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues and works to eliminate abuses of human rights throughout Canada and the world.