Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia Vahan Kostanyan delivered remarks at the Global Refugee Forum

14 December, 2023

On December 14, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia Vahan Kostanyan delivered remarks at the Global Refugee Forum. The full speech is presented below.

“I would like to commend the excellent organization of the Global Refugee Forum. It is taking place at a critical juncture marked by the rise of conflicts around the world, which leads to dramatic increase in the number of people who are forcibly displaced.

Unfortunately, the South Caucasus was not immune from such tragic developments. As a result of the use of force by Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh was ethnically cleansed. Within a few days more than 105 thousand Armenians were forcibly displaced from their ancestral homes. Another 26 thousand Armenians were already displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the devastating war of 2020. It should be mentioned that in its recent decision the International Court of Justice ordered Azerbaijan to “ensure that persons who have left Nagorno-Karabakh and who wish to return are able to do so in a safe, unimpeded and expeditious manner”. Armenia welcomes this decision and fully supports the realization of this legally binding decision.

As far as currently there are no appropriate conditions to guarantee the security and rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia has been taking all necessary steps to address the needs of refugees.

Armenia pledges to take concrete steps in order to secure access to housing for Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians, promote equal access to economic opportunities, uphold the rights to education and include refugee children in the Armenian educational system, ensure the provision of essential health services and medicines to all refugees.

The humanitarian crisis of this magnitude requires a comprehensive international response. The Armenia Emergency Refugee Response Plan was launched in October for this purpose in close cooperation between the Government of Armenia and the UNHCR, bringing together 60 partners worldwide. We once again appeal for international support to this end.

I would like to add that since 2020, the Armenian government has provided ‘housing purchase certificates’ for refugees forcibly displaced by Azerbaijan as a result of pogroms in Baku, Sumgait and Kirovabad. About 360,000 of them were forcibly displaced from Azerbaijan in late 1980s and early 90s. Before that, as a result of structural violence, Armenians had to leave Nakhichevan and other areas of Azerbaijan. All rights of these refugees should be also upheld.

In this context it is important to mention that according to the last census of the Soviet Union around 500.000 Armenians were living in Soviet Azerbaijan. Today due to the violence, use of force, hatred and xenophobia of the Azerbaijani Government there are almost none.

Recalling the appeal of the High Commissioner not to politicize the humanitarian platform, I would like to draw the attention to some particular pledges made by Azerbaijani delegation. Since its independence the Republic of Azerbaijan has never raised any claim of this kind and currently is distorting history in order to justify its territorial claims against the Republic of Armenia. This should be unequivocally rejected by the international community.

I thank you.”

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