BRUSSELS, March 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
A high-level parliamentary delegation from Azerbaijan met on Tuesday with Members of the Belgian Parliament to raise awareness about the "frozen conflict" of Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
During a special hearing held at the Senate in Brussels on "The Occupied Territories, the Forgotten Lands", the delegation, headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ali Hasanov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Sevinj Hasanova, and MP of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Elkhan Suleymanov, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), stressed the urgency of settling the conflict, which has been lingering for over two decades.
"There cannot be two different standards for justice" said Mr. Hasanov in his speech "one for the Western world and one for Azerbaijan. Too much time has passed. The rights of Azerbaijan and its people have now to be universally recognised and restored".
Pierre Legros, founder of the NGO "Lawyers Without Borders", said in his speech that there is only one thing crueler than the occupation itself: the negation of it.
Claude Moniquet, the French Director of the "European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre" in his speech defined the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as the "black hole of European politics. At this stage I think the only way for the international community to settle the conflict is to consider sanctions on Armenia," said Mr. Moniquet.
On the sidelines of the debate, the head of the Belgium-Azerbaijan inter-parliamentary working group Philippe Blanchart confirmed that the Belgian Parliament will discuss a resolution on Nagorno Karabakh. "The preparation of the text is about to be completed," said Mr. Blanchart. "Once it is ready, it will be presented to the Parliament".
The war between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988, as the Soviet Union was disbanding, when Armenia made territorial claims on Azerbaijani land. In 1992-93 Armenian armed forces supported by Soviet troops occupied twenty per cent of Azerbaijani territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. In 1994 Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement.
Negotiations have unsuccessfully been held since then between Azerbaijan and Armenia in order to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by Russia, France and the U.S.
However, Armenia has not implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions passed in 1993, which demand "the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan." In 2005 PACE adopted Resolution 1416, condemning the use of ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijani population.
As a result of the occupation, 20,000 Azerbaijanis have been killed, 200,000 were injured, 50,000 became invalid and 5,000 have gone missing. The conflict resulted in nearly one million Azerbaijani refugees. During the war, civilians have been taken hostage, used in forced labor, executed without trial or massacred in ethnic cleansing operations. Baku has estimated the total cost of the conflict to exceed $60 billion.
The OSCE, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and other international organisations support the principle of territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including Nagorno-Karabakh, within internationally recognized borders and have affirmed the right of the refugees to return to their homes.
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor