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Interviews, articles and comments

Responses of Edward Nalbandian during the Question and Answer session with the Government at the National Assembly

13.09.2017

Vahe Enfiajyan: Dear colleagues, in my hands I have a statement published today in Azerbaijani media by blogger Lapshin, who basically formulated his thoughts as ones of regret. We know that several months ago his wife, his lawyer, launched a large-scale campaign, particularly at the international level, of voicing the issue, also politicians touched upon this issue, speaking up for restoring the justice and finding a fair solution to the issue. The most important point though is that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia also dealt with this issue. I would like, Mr. Nalbandian, to ask you to clarify in this regard, how come that the issue was finally resolved in this way?

Edward Nalbandian: Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly, dear deputies, dear Mr. Enfiajyan, thank you for the question.

Probably, the political prisoners in Azerbaijan and those who are abroad today fleeing the persecution of the country's authorities will better know and answer the question about how can the Azeri authorities succeed in extorting such sort kind of regretful letters.

Concerning the response to the case: I remember that the question about Lapshin has been asked here, in the National Assembly, and the concern was expressed regarding the bloggers, that they, especially those in the sphere of tourism, will not visit Karabakh any more, and the number of tourists will decrease. But we have another picture. Back then I have said that you will see, the bloggers will continue going there, as they used to do.

You should remember, that immediately after the arrest of Lapshin, bloggers from about ten countries have visited Karabakh. During this period, the number of tourists visiting Artsakh increased significantly.

I can also inform you that tomorrow a group of bloggers from ten countries will go to Karabakh to participate in the Artsakh Wine Festival. Some bloggers are going to make films to present the attractiveness of Karabakh for tourists and to invite tourists to visit Artsakh. This is the reaction. And not only bloggers.

Azerbaijan makes great efforts, creates "black lists" etc. But the fact is that the number of members of parliaments, political and cultural figures visiting Karabakh is growing and will continue to grow.

Vahe Enfiajyan: Thank you. Mr. Nalbandian, how can we essentially predict that thе ten bloggers, especially those who visit the Republic of Artsakh, will not face the same fate, will not become "persona-non-grata", and find themselves in such situations again in the future?

Edward Nalbandian: You can not force the Azerbaijani authorities to change their policy in one day. Their behavior is the result of the fact that while being in an agitated condition, they continue their attempts, and get the opposite effect. That is what is important.

You are familiar with the reaction of not only bloggers but of the international community as well. You do remember that a relevant reaction was voiced by some countries. Several statements were made by the foreign ministries about the "black lists", as well as about sending the people with Armenian last names back from the airport.

I would not like to quote these statements, they are known and have been made not by one single country or one single foreign ministry. Make relevant judgments. I am not saying that it is because of our work, that bloggers visit Artsakh, or make such statements. I only present fact.

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