European Parliament condemns ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh, demands withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from Armenia’s territory

The European Parliament voted 491 to 9 with 37 abstentions to adopt a resolution on the Situation in Nagorno-Karabakh after Azerbaijan’s attack and the continuing threats against Armenia.

The resolution condemns in the strongest terms the pre-planned and unjustified military attack by Azerbaijan against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, stressing that this attack represents a gross violation of international law and human rights and a clear infringement of the trilateral ceasefire statement of 9 November 2020 and of the commitments that Azerbaijan made in the negotiations mediated by the EU; recalls that the attack took place in the context of a major humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, following Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor for the past nine months, in violation of Baku’s commitments and of the legally binding orders of the ICJ; reminds Azerbaijan that the use of coercive practices to remove a civilian population from a territory may amount to a crime against humanity and could fall under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

It deplores the loss of life and injuries resulting from the recent attack by Azerbaijan, including after an explosion at a fuel depot on 25 September 2023; expresses its solidarity with the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh who have been forced to flee their homes and ancestral lands; considers that the current situation amounts to ethnic cleansing and strongly condemns the threats and acts of violence committed by Azerbaijani troops against the population of Nagorno-Karabakh; commends the authorities of Armenia for their efforts to provide aid and shelter to the refugees; calls for the EU institutions and the Member States to immediately offer all necessary assistance to Armenia to deal with the influx of refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh and the resulting humanitarian crisis.

Members of the European Parliament call for the EU and its Member States to adopt targeted sanctions against the individuals in the Azerbaijani Government responsible for multiple ceasefire violations and violations of human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh; calls for investigations into the abuses committed by Azerbaijani forces that could constitute war crimes.

The Parliament reminds Azerbaijan that it bears full responsibility for the safety and well-being of all people in Nagorno-Karabakh and must be held accountable; demands that Azerbaijan ensure the safety and security of the people in Nagorno-Karabakh, respecting the UN Charter and all relevant international conventions, the principles of international humanitarian law and human rights, its international commitments and the OSCE principles; calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to allow the safe return of the Armenian population to Nagorno-Karabakh, to offer solid guarantees regarding the protection of their rights and to refrain from any inflammatory rhetoric that could incite discrimination against Armenians; reminds the Azerbaijani authorities that the right to return to one’s home is a fundamental precept of international human rights law; calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to urgently and genuinely engage in a comprehensive and transparent dialogue with the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to ensure respect for their rights and guarantee their security, including their right to live in their homes in dignity and safety, and their land and property rights, to maintain their distinct identity and fully enjoy their civic, cultural, social and religious rights; calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to closely consult the Council of Europe, the UN, the OSCE and other international organizations concerning best practices to guarantee the rights of ethnic Armenians, stressing that this is particularly important given Azerbaijan’s disastrous track record on human rights.

The MEPS urge Azerbaijani authorities to make every effort to ensure that the Armenians who have left are able to access all the necessary information on how to restore their residency in Nagorno-Karabakh and avail themselves fully of all other rights to property, social benefits, education and the like, should they decide to return.

The Parliament calls on the EU and its Member States to urgently work towards securing international guarantees ensuring the safety and well-being of Armenians who are continuing to live in Nagorno-Karabakh and the immediate restoration of full humanitarian access to the region; calls for the EU and its Member States to increase their presence on the ground and substantially increase humanitarian aid to people displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia or living in Nagorno-Karabakh; expresses disappointment at the way in which the first UN mission to Nagorno-Karabakh in 30 years was organized and conducted; call for the establishment of an international presence in Nagorno-Karabakh under the auspices of the United Nations, in order to monitor the situation on the ground and provide transparency, reassurance and confidence to the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, with a focus on humanitarian needs and protection and on the preservation of cultural and historical heritage sites; calls for the urgent replacement of the Russian peacekeeping forces with a UN peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to effectively protect the safety and security of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

It expresses deep concern for the preservation of cultural, religious and historical heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh after the massive exodus of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians; urges Azerbaijan to refrain from further destroying, neglecting or altering the origins of cultural, religious or historical heritage in the region, bearing in mind the destruction of cultural, religious and historical heritage since the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and calls on it to instead strive to preserve, protect and promote this rich diversity in line with the ICJ Order of 7 December 2021; demands the protection of the Armenian cultural, historical and religious heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh in line with UNESCO standards and Azerbaijan’s international commitments; insists that Azerbaijan allow a UNESCO mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and give it the necessary access to heritage sites to establish a record of their current state and proceed with an inventory.

The European Parliament demands the safeguarding of the property of those members of the Armenian community who were forced to leave and calls on Azerbaijan to release and commit to a broad amnesty for all the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh who have been arrested since 19 September 2023, including former officials from the region, and for all others who were arrested before and after 19 September 2023;

It reiterates its condemnation of the Azerbaijani military incursions into the internationally recognized territory of Armenia; reiterates its demand for the withdrawal of Azerbaijan’s troops from the entirety of the sovereign territory of Armenia; rejects and expresses its grave concern regarding the irredentist and inflammatory statements made by the Azerbaijani President and other Azerbaijani officials threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia, including those in connection with the ‘Zangezur corridor’; warns Azerbaijan against any potential military adventurism against Armenia proper, and calls on Turkey to restrain its ally Azerbaijan from undertaking any such irresponsible actions; condemns the support provided during this crisis to Azerbaijan by other countries and calls for an end to this support in order to prevent further escalation; warns that Azerbaijan could be emboldened by the lack of serious deterrence efforts by the international community.

The resolution calls for a comprehensive review of the EU’s relations with Azerbaijan, taking into account recent developments and the worsening human rights situation in the country; calls on the Commission to quickly reconsider the ‘strategic partnership’ with Azerbaijan in the field of energy, given Azerbaijan’s repeated violations of its international commitments, including commitments made in talks mediated by the EU and binding provisions under international law; notes that, in the light of Azerbaijan’s aggression against Armenia in September 2022 and its unjustified use of force against and forced displacement of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, as well as the country’s alarming human rights record, developing such a ‘strategic partnership’ is incompatible with the objectives of EU foreign policy as defined in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union; states its conviction that the EU cannot morally accept negotiating a future partnership agreement with a country that blatantly violates principles of international law as well as its international obligations and is therefore neither a reliable nor a trustworthy partner; urges the High Representative and the EEAS, therefore, to suspend the negotiations for a renewed partnership agreement until Azerbaijan has demonstrated its genuine readiness to respect the rights and security concerns of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh; calls for the EU and its Member States, if Azerbaijan continues to disregard its commitments, to consider suspending the visa facilitation agreement with Azerbaijan and lowering the level of cooperation with the country in other areas; finds unacceptable any comments and threats addressed to MEPs by the Azerbaijani authorities, including the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the EU.

The MEPs call for the EU’s dependency on gas exports from Azerbaijan to be reduced, urge the Commission to investigate suspicions that Azerbaijan actually exports Russian gas to the EU; call for the suspension of all imports of oil and gas from Azerbaijan to the EU in the event of military aggression against Armenian territorial integrity or significant hybrid attacks against Armenia’s constitutional order and democratic institutions.

They condemn the inaction of Russian ‘peacekeepers’ and condemns Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for exploiting the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh to promote an imperialistic agenda and for encouraging further attacks against Armenia’s sovereignty. They urge Turkey to adopt a constructive and responsible approach regarding Armenia’s territorial integrity and to foster peace in the region.

The Parliament commends Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan for his commitment to peace; reiterates the EU’s commitment to supporting Armenia’s sovereignty, democracy and territorial integrity; strongly condemns Russia’s increasing hybrid attempts to destabilize the political situation inside Armenia; welcomes Armenia’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; believes that the EU must seize the opportunity of a potential geopolitical vacuum, provide Armenia with an ambitious plan for cooperation by upgrading the current Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, anchoring Armenia more strongly in the community of Western democracies and helping it unlock relations with neighbors, in particular Turkey.

It calls for the EU to respond favorably to Armenia’s request for support via the European Peace Facility should Armenia reconsider its current military alliances; calls for the EU to substantially increase its humanitarian and financial assistance to Armenia, which faces the arrival of tens of thousands of refugees; calls for the EU, in the light of the disruption to the education of thousands of ethnic Armenians, to help establish and fund scholarships for pupils and students who have been evacuated, so that they can continue their studies;

The European Parliament reiterates its support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both Azerbaijan and Armenia; calls on Azerbaijan to reaffirm its unequivocal commitment to Armenia’s territorial integrity; believes that genuine dialogue between Azerbaijan, Armenia and representatives of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians is the only sustainable way forward and calls for the EU and its Member States to support such efforts; supports the ongoing peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which have been seriously hampered by the recent military operation against Nagorno-Karabakh; underlines the need for a comprehensive peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which must include the mutual recognition of territorial integrity, guarantees for the rights and security of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population and the release of prisoners; highlights that a dignified and durable regional peace that maintains sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity for both countries is a prerequisite for stability in the neighborhood.

It calls on the EU civilian mission in Armenia (EUMA) to closely monitor the evolving security situation on the ground, provide transparent reporting to Parliament and actively contribute to conflict resolution efforts; calls for the EU and its Member States to strengthen EUMA’s mandate, increase its size, extend its duration and also place monitors along the border with Turkey; deplores the fact that Azerbaijan has never allowed EUMA to be deployed on its territory and calls on Azerbaijan to allow EUMA’s presence on its side of the border and in Nagorno-Karabakh;

The MEPs express deep dissatisfaction at the fact that regular alerts by Parliament regarding the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the risks of a catastrophic outcome have been disregarded by the Commission and the Council; deplore that EU action has so far not led to any positive results; demands that the EEAS reconsider its action in the South Caucasus and replace dedicated staff; regret the slow response by the EU institutions, with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy only releasing a statement two days after Azerbaijan launched its attack against Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Parliament calls for the EU and its Member States to urgently reassess the EU’s diplomatic and security architecture and the geopolitical configurations in the wider South Caucasus region in the light of the new facts on the ground and the interests of countries like Russia, Turkey and Iran, but also to develop a strategy in response to the growing trend of autocratic regimes pushing aside diplomatic efforts in favor of violent military force;

It deplores the Hungarian Government’s decision to block a joint statement by all EU Member States condemning the military operation by Azerbaijan against the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh; urges the Council to unite in support of the EU having more active involvement in the protection of human rights and the promotion of peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia;

The Parlaiment Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the President, Government and Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the President, Government and Parliament of the Republic of Armenia, the Director-General of UNESCO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the UN and the Council of Europe.

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