Remarks by Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Minister of Foriegn Affairs of Armenia on the 130th Session Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe04 November, 2020
I join in the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the signature of the European Convention on Human Rights – a cornerstone treaty in protecting rights and freedoms of hundreds of millions of Europeans. We share the vision of the Council of Europe that the Convention shall cover all Europeans, notwithstanding the status of the territory they live in. Sadly, it is not the case.
In late September Azerbaijan launched a large-scale aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh with the direct involvement of Turkey and foreign terrorist fighters, resorting to violations of the international humanitarian law aimed at annihilating the indigenous people of Artsakh. The deployment by Turkey of terrorist fighters to Azerbaijan is in violation of at least three Council of Europe treaties, to which both states are parties.
Tens of thousands have now been displaced – children, women, elderly, people with disabilities, their houses, infrastructure, religious sites destroyed.
The ill treatment and execution of prisoners of war by Azerbaijani armed forces and its terrorist allies constitute serious war crimes. This was acknowledged by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who expressed serious concerns on the summarily execution of Armenian prisoners of war by Azerbaijani troops.
Furthermore, Azerbaijani armed forces set on fire forests with the use of white phosphorus, contradicting our recent efforts related to environment and human rights. There is a humanitarian crisis in Artsakh, just as the Secretary General warned.
We shared her assessments. Just as we agreed with the positions of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the PACE.
We agree that a ceasefire needs to be reached. We tried a few times, but Azerbaijan broke it. We agree that hate speech should be abandoned. But we’ve been living with anti-Armenian hate speech in two of our neighbours for decades. It is well reflected in the monitoring reports of the Council of Europe. We agree with the need to allow journalists to cover the war on the ground. We have accredited hundreds of international journalists who went and saw the destruction, the humanitarian catastrophe. Some of them were deliberately targeted by Azerbaijan.
Indeed, we agree with your assessments, with your statements. But statements are no longer enough.
The Council of Europe must show determination and protect the right to life of ordinary citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh, as demanded by the European Court upon Armenia’s request.
Measures must be imposed on Turkey so that it refrains from actions contributing to breaches of Convention rights of civilians in Artsakh, as again was indicated by the European Court. Turkey's destabilizing role in the Eastern Mediterranean, in North Africa, in the Middle East, and now in the South Caucasus should be addressed.
I urge to take necessary measures to enable unhindered access to conflict zones. I urge the Committee of Ministers to take bold steps and be worthy of the legacy of the founding fathers of the Council of Europe. The legacy of peace and prosperity, of greater unity in Europe. But the inability to express a position on an ongoing war or even acknowledging the sanitary needs of people living in conflict zones testifies to its deep crisis. The Committee must take actions, or it is doomed to be obsolete.
Like Armenia, Azerbaijan undertook a commitment to resolve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by peaceful means while acceding to the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan is now in breach of this commitment and openly admits that it intends to solve the conflict by force. The organization must address this violation.
This is a defining time for the world order. Multilateralism was invented to achieve global peace. Today, multilateralism is in crisis. Its future depends on greater unity of each individual State, and that is the aim of the Council of Europe. We all have our share of responsibility to this end and we must act soon. The opposite is a crisis, a moral crisis and a crisis of values for the Council of Europe.