On 7 November Member of European Parliament (MEP) Costas Mavrides (S&D Group, Cyprus) hosted a conference with the title “The Rights of Nagorno Karabakh Armenians and the European Union,” in collaboration with the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) and the ‘Europeans for Artsakh’ platform.
The conference which was widely attended by dozens of European and Belgian parliamentarians, diplomats, journalists and representatives of the civil society, featured three keynote speakers: Luis Moreno Ocampo – the former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Irene Victoria Massimino – Co-Founder of the Lemkin Institute and an international criminal lawyer and, Karnig Kerkonian – an international lawyer and lead counsel in several precedent-setting Armenian rights matters in U.S. and international courts
The aim of the conference was to analyze the post-2020 war developments in Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh through the lenses of international law, human rights as well as the response of the international community, focusing on EU’s role as main mediator. MEP Costas Mavrides, Armenian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and Head of Mission to the EU Tigran Balayan, the EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian and the Belgian representative of the ‘Europeans for Artsakh’ platform Robert Unusyan, delivered opening remarks.
MEP Mavrides emphasized the imperative to remember and address the methodical ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Aliev regime of Azerbaijan. He added,
“The main purpose of the event is not to forget the crimes and the criminal, but to highlight the inalienable rights of the Armenians in the region and prompt reflection on the future.”
Keynote speakers elaborated on the legal ramifications of Azerbaijan’s actions against the native Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh. Luis Moreno Ocampo urged the European Union to transcend its initial purpose of ending violence in Europe and in the world. Mr. Moreno Ocampo mentioned,
“what happened in Artsakh, the blockade of the Lachin corridor was a form of genocide, under the Genocide Convention, since one form of genocide is the creation of conditions to destroy a group.’’
Irene Victoria Massimino pointed out the necessity of repatriating the Armenian prisoners of war, captives, and political prisoners illegally held by Azerbaijan. Ms. Massimino added:
“asking the Armenians of Artsakh to live under the Azerbaijani regime is to dictate them an unappealable death sentence. Failure to act against the expulsion from their original land is condoning genocide. Given the current scenario, the international community now faces its responsibility in failing to prevent the crimes perpetrated against the Armenian people.”
Karnig Kerkonian elaborated on the complicity of EU’s executive leadership in the post 2020-war developments in Nagorno Karabakh. Kerkonian epmhasized the EU executive was clearly aware of what integration of the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh into Azerbaijan meant, yet it pushed for this agenda. Karnig Kerkonian stated
“the right to return must be guaranteed, and it must be guaranteed by both an international security mechanism and recognition of the Artsakh people’s right to self-determination. The irrefutable evidence of genocidal intent demonstrates that aiding and abetting Azerbaijan’s “integration” policy was, and remains, aiding and abetting Aliyev’s genocide policy. There is no safe harbor and no plausible deniability for those complicit in allowing Aliyev’s agenda seeking to destroy the Armenians of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh.’’
The EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian, thanked MEPs, particularly MEP Costas Mavrides, for the commitment to justice and human rights. Karampetian also expressed appreciation for EP’s objective and vocal stance on Nagorno Karabakh post 2020 war, reminding that the Parliament had clearly denounced the ethnic cleansing in Nagorno Karabakh by Azerbaijan and had twice called on the EU executive to impose targeted sanctions on Azerbaijan. Furthermore, the EAFJD President underscored the complicity of the EU executive’s in allowing Azerbaijan’s genocidal agenda to persist.
The conference concluded with a Q&A session, where MEPs discussed future steps on how to put pressure on the Azerbaijani government and hold the EU executive accountable.