Peace treaty must guarantee Armenia’s sovereignty, the rights and security of Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh – European Parliament
The European Parliament voted 534 to 10 with 66 abstentions to adopt a report on EU-Armenia relations.
Noting that the armed Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which over the years has caused immense suffering and destruction, has significantly hampered the socio-economic development and stability of the whole South Caucasus region MEPs voice conviction that durable and sustainable peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot be achieved through military means and the threat of force, but requires a comprehensive political settlement in accordance with international law, including the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, the 1975 OSCE Helsinki Final Act, namely the non-use of force, territorial integrity and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and the OSCE Minsk Group’s 2009 Basic Principles and all the agreements reached between the two parties, including the Alma Ata 1991 Declaration.
The European Parliament reaffirms that in order to be effective, a comprehensive peace treaty must include provisions that guarantee the integrity of Armenia’s sovereign territory, the rights and security of the Armenian population residing in Nagorno-Karabakh and other conflict-afflicted areas, and the prompt and safe return of refugees and internally displaced people to their homes; recalls that the root cause of the conflict, which is the situation and security of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh and the status of the formerly autonomous region, remains unresolved; calls on the international community to keep its attention on this conflict, which is a matter of stability and security for the whole region.
The Parliament strongly condemns the large-scale military aggression by Azerbaijan in September 2022 against multiple places in the sovereign territory of Armenia, which constituted a serious breach of the ceasefire and contradicted earlier commitments, including those made as part of EU-mediated talks; condemns military incursions into the internationally recognized territory of Armenia since May 2021; recalls that this follows violations of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia as reported in May and November 2021; urges the return of all forces to their positions held on 9 November 2020 and stresses that the latest September aggression has no direct link to the long-lasting conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh; reiterates that the territorial integrity of Armenia must be fully respected in line with international law and the UN Charter and calls on the Azerbaijani authorities, therefore, to immediately withdraw from all parts of the territory of Armenia and to release the POWs under their control; urges the EU to be more actively involved in settling the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan; emphasizes that both sides have to respect the principle of territorial integrity, which is key for peace in the region;
The MEPs condemn the blockade of the Lachin corridor; urge Azerbaijan to remove any obstacles that would hinder freedom and security of movement along that corridor as stipulated by the trilateral statement of 9 November 2020; call on Armenia and Azerbaijan to address all concerns relating to the functioning of the Lachin corridor through dialogue and consultations with all the parties involved;
The European Parliament urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to fully implement the tripartite ceasefire statement of 9 November 2020 in all its aspects and condemns Azerbaijan for regular violations of the ceasefire; stresses the need to advance discussions on the future peace treaty, to address the root causes of the conflict and to refrain from any steps that could lead to further escalation; recalls that the implementation of Article 9 of the ceasefire statement of 9 November 2020 cannot go against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Armenia.
It urges the governments of both countries to fully engage in the drafting of a comprehensive and mutually acceptable peace treaty that should address the security of the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh, the return of internally displaced persons and refugees and the protection of cultural, religious and historical heritage; welcomes in this regard the meetings of the foreign affairs ministers of both countries on 30 September 2022 in Geneva and on 8 November 2022 in Washington D.C.;
The Parliament welcomes the establishment of the civilian European Union Mission in Armenia under the common security and defense policy, which aims to help increase security in the region by decreasing the number of incidents in conflict-affected and border areas in Armenia, to reduce the level of risks for the population living in such areas and thereby to contribute to the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the ground, while at the same time increases visibility of the EU in the region; welcomes Armenia’s willingness to facilitate the upcoming mission on its territory and calls on Azerbaijan to allow the presence of the EU mission on its side of the border as well; calls for the demarcation process to be internationally facilitated by the EU and/or OSCE in order to ensure credibility, fairness and sustainability;
It reiterates the need to agree on, and implement through peaceful means, transport and communication between the western regions of Azerbaijan and Nakhijevan, which does not infringe on the territorial integrity of Armenia; insists that the modalities of goods transport on this route need to be agreed bilaterally between Armenia and Azerbaijan; notes that the unblocking of regional transport and communication links will present a significant opportunity for socio-economic development in the entire South Caucasus region;
The Parliament suggests the establishment of a temporary international guarantee mechanism for the safety and security of the Armenian population and all returnees in Nagorno-Karabakh; highlights the importance of international mediation, given the significant power imbalance between the sides, and the EU’s particularly important role in this context to ensure a fair agreement and the protection of the rights of the Nagorno-Karabakh population;
It calls for the granting of access to international humanitarian organizations to Nagorno-Karabakh, especially the United Nations, and recalls that currently only the International Committee of the Red Cross is allowed access to the region, which is insufficient to accurately assess the conditions and needs of the population residing there.
The Parliament continues to be seriously concerned about the fate of Armenian POWs and civilians detained during and after the conflict and still illegally held by Azerbaijan; welcomes the release of some of them; condemns the sentencing and continued detention of the 33 confirmed POWs and civilian captives; underlines that their imprisonment is contrary to all the calls from the international community, including Parliament, to release all remaining POWs and civilian captives; stresses that both Armenia and Azerbaijan are parties to the Geneva Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, which stipulates that POWs must at all times be humanely treated and must be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities; regrets, however, that the fate and whereabouts of over 200 Armenians, including 20 civilians, in relation to the 2020 war remain unknown; notes that the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has started procedures and requested information from Azerbaijan in relation to at least 18 missing persons; calls on all sides to clarify the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared, and to treat dead bodies with dignity; demands once again the immediate and unconditional release of all the remaining detainees, including those captured during the recent military confrontations, and for them to be treated in accordance with international humanitarian law;
It condemns in the strongest possible terms the torture, mutilation and killing of Armenian military personnel, including women, and eight unarmed Armenian POWs by Azerbaijani armed forces in September 2022; deplores the fact the perpetrators filmed these heinous acts and posted them on social media themselves; takes note of reports by human rights groups, in particular by Human Rights Watch, classifying this act as a war crime; calls for a full independent and impartial investigation to identify those responsible and hold them accountable for their actions.
Members of the European parliament support the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey in the interest of reconciliation, regional stability and security as well as socio-economic development and welcomes the progress achieved so far, including the resumption of flights between the two countries; call for the speedy implementation of agreements reached by the special representatives; recalls that the previous attempt to normalize relations between Armenia and Turkey through the signing of 2009 protocols failed because of Turkey’s unilateral support for Azerbaijan and its decision to make the opening of the border and establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia conditional on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; call on both sides to engage in the process in good faith and without preconditions and calls for the EU to actively support this process; expresses the hope that this may give impetus to the normalization of relations in the South Caucasus region; encourage Turkey once again to recognize the Armenian Genocide to pave the way for genuine reconciliation between the Turkish and Armenian peoples, and to fully respect its obligations to protect Armenian cultural heritage.