“The Karabakh conflict is not about territory, but about the cardinal principle of international law -the peoples’ right to self-determination,” member of the Armenian delegation to PACE Naira Karapetyan said in a speech for free debate at PACE. The full text of the speech is provided below:
Most of you are informed about recent tragic escalation of violence in Nagorno Karabakh. On the night of April 1-2, Azerbaijani armed forces initiated overt offensive operations in the southern, southeastern and northeastern directions of the line of contact with Nagorno Karabakh, using armored fighting vehicles, Multi launch rocket systems and air force equipment among other weapons.
The military action violated not only obligations taken by Azerbaijan on principle of good faith negotiations in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, but also constituted violation of a set of principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter, 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, 1975 Helsinki Final Act, the UN Security Council resolutions, which Azerbaijan loves to cite constantly and other international instruments.
Aside from the acts of use of force contrary to the UN Charter, constituting act of Aggression, the Azerbaijani army has also carried out heavy artillery bombing on civilians and civilian objects, including using cluster ammunition and other non-discriminatory weapons. 12-year-old child was killed and two other schoolchildren were wounded heavily in the shelling by MM-21 Grad MLRS, launched by Azerbaijani forces. Two other children, 12-year-old Vardan Andreasyan and 11-year-old Gevorg Grigoryan, were wounded heavily when a school was bombarded by Azerbaijan.
And this is not the only act of violence against civilian population during the four-day war, as it is called in Karabakh. After temporal overturn of Talish village by Azerbaijani armed forces, elderly couple was shot at home with their ears being cut off. Azerbaijani soldiers also executed 92-year-old old woman. All the killed persons were aged and reasonably infirm.
Moreover, the servicemen of Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army, Kyaram Sloyan, Hayk Toroyan, Hrant Gharibyan were beheaded by Azerbaijani troops. Numerous photos in social network is a real evidence of cruel treatment of Azerbaijani soldiers posing with the head of Kyaram Sloyan as a trophy. Later the head was transferred to local Azerbaijani population demonstrating it as an Armenian symbol encouraging hatred and aggression towards Armenians. No action by official Baku has followed to punish the guilty. And by doing so Azerbaijan once more violets numerous international treaties, including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, European Convention on Human rights, Geneva Conventions on protection of victims of war and many others. The head of the soldier was returned to the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh only on April 9.
Another episode includes torture of Prisoners of War and mutilation of bodies of 18 dead Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army soldiers, handed over to Nagorno-Karabakh authorities in presence of the representatives of the ICRC a week after the hostilities.
Yes, dear colleagues, Azerbaijan calls itself a Land of fire, and it is pure true. This is not a fire of life, of peace and democracy, but the fire of war, fire of horror, fire of death.
I strongly blame Azerbaijan’s hostilities against Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani forces and armed militants have committed multiple terrorist acts against the Nagorno-Karabakh troops and the civilian population, which are defined as war crimes and crimes against humanity under the international law.
President Aliyev continues defying international calls to reach a negotiated settlement that will ensure a lasting peace in the region. Until Azerbaijan faces strong and meaningful consequences over their policy of escalation and violence and its self-serving refusal to agree to international monitoring of the line of contact, there is little chance of resolving the conflict and avoiding further bloodshed.
The true victims of this policy are the people of Artsakh who simply want to live free, in peaceful environment, in a country where human rights and democracy are real values, and exercise their right to live, liberty and pursue to happiness!
This is not a conflict for territory, but a cardinal principle of international law of nations right to self-determination.