'Action now on Armenia and Azerbaijan' says Council of Europe

1 June 2013

'Action now on Armenia and Azerbaijan' says Council of Europe

Twenty-five years after the bloody war over Nagorno Karabach, Armenia and Azerbaijan, as current and next holders of the Council of Europe’s rotating six-month presidency, must make extra efforts to arrive at a peaceful settlement of this dangerous conflict. This call, an initiative of SP Senator Tiny Kox, was issued this week by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), in which are represented forty-seven European states.

Tiny KoxIn the early 1990s the two former Soviet Republics fought a bloody war for control of Nagorno Karabach, a region of Azerbaijan populated by Armenians. After thousands had died and many more had been wounded, while hundreds of thousands from both countries had fled, a cease-fire was signed, and this has since stayed shakily intact. A lasting peace agreement has never been achieved, however, despite international mediation from Russia, France and the United States. In the meantime, both countries have been arming themselves, and only last week Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev declared that ‘my country has never ruled out a military solution’. A few years ago we saw how another ‘frozen conflict’, in neighbouring Georgia, suddenly led to a brief but costly war with Russia and huge instability throughout the Caucasus.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are obliged as members of the Council of Europe, to which both acceded in 2001, to seek a peaceful solution to their conflict. Now that Armenia holds the rotating presidency, which Azerbaijan will take next year, both countries are expected to redouble their efforts, as Senator Kox pointed out at PACE’s plenary meeting in Strasbourg in April. Now that it turns out, however, that Nagorno Karabach does not figure in the list of priorities for the coming six months, Kox, who is Chair of the European United Left group in PACE, placed the matter in the group’s name on the agenda for this week’s meeting in Yerevan. This was clearly necessary, because in his speech to the Assembly this week Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian failed to mention the conflict. 'Why have you talked about everything except the elephant here in the room, an elephant called Nagorno Karabach?' asked the SP Senator. A debate followed, and PACE then adopted an official declaration urging both countries to do more to arrive at a peaceful settlement.

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