Australian lawmaker condemns Baku in open letter to Azerbaijan Embassy

Dr. Hugh McDermott MP – a Member of Parliament in Australia’s largest state of New South Wales – has written an open letter to Azerbaijan’s Embassy in Australia, unequivocally condemning “Azerbaijan’s recent unprovoked attacks on the Republic of Artsakh, along the entire line of contact, and selected civilian areas of the Republic of Armenia”, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The Member for the Western Sydney electorate of Prospect is a member of the Australian Friends of Artsakh network and visited Stepanakert as part of the first Federal-led delegation to Armenia and Artsakh last year – a visit which earned him a blacklisting on the persona non grata list of Azerbaijan’s dictator, Ilham Aliyev.

McDermott’s open letter to Mr. Eljan Habibzade came after Azerbaijan on Sunday launched large-caliber air and artillery strikes on many civilian towns of the Republic of Artsakh, including the self-determined Republic’s capital Stepanakert, which have so far killed 84 Armenian servicemen defending their indigenous homeland, as well as civilians and volunteers, with hundreds of others wounded. Many hundreds of Azerbaijani soldiers have also given their lives due to the aggression initiated by their authoritarian leader, Ilham Aliyev, whose attacks on Armenians have now stretched to Armenia’s sovereign borders, including fire from a Turkish military jet on Tuesday.

In his letter, McDermott condemned the war-mongering lead-up by Azerbaijan’s dictator to these ongoing attacks.

“Azerbaijan’s most recent ceasefire violations also come after aggressive Pan-Turkish nationalist statements by President Aliyev, who threatened to launch missile strikes against the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant in Armenia and after coordinating large-scale joint military exercises with the Republic of Turkey,” the letter read.

“All of these incidents, as well as the Azerbaijani Governments acceptance of Turkish Government funded Syrian-based Jihadis, transported from Syria and used as part of the initial attacks on Artsakh, indicate that the attacks against the majority Armenian population of Artsakh were pre-planned and premeditated provocations, intended to disturb regional peace and security. Further, the use of Turkish troops as part of the invasion force only confirms these facts.”

“I strongly condemn the Azerbaijani Governments blatant disregard of the Russian brokered ceasefire agreement signed by the Republics of Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan in 1994. I strongly condemn the Azerbaijani regime’s brutal attacks and indiscriminate shelling against civilian populations throughout the Republic of Artsakh, specifically the capital city, Stepanakert.”

McDermott called for a stop to Azerbaijan’s aggression and Baku’s return to a wider negotiating table, including both Armenia and Artsakh.

“I call on the Azerbaijani Government to halt its aggressive military actions, withdraw its military forces and return to the negotiating table with the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh,” he wrote.

“Your country’s citizens deserve peace and democracy. The latter is already practiced in the Republic of Artsakh, whose people had, prior to Azerbaijan’s actions, lived in peace and security on the land they have continuously inhabited for millenia.”

McDermott also had a message reserved for Aliyev regarding his refusal to install gunfire locator systems on the border, which will determine fault in such ceasefire breaches, a proposal Armenia and Artsakh are ready to accommodate.

“I urge President Aliyev to implement the Royce-Engel Peace Proposal intended to reduce tensions in the region. Armenia, Artsakh, the United States of America and the OSCE Minsk Group endorse the implementation of the Peace Proposal, which recommends gunfire locators and additional observers along the line of contact. For their implementation, this only requires the acceptance of President Aliyev. If Azerbaijan seeks peace and claims faultlessness in ceasefire breaches, these mechanisms must be implemented,” he said.

McDermott reflected on his trip to Artsakh in 2019, stating the people have “rights to self-determination and their independence is irreversible”.

“This time last year I travelled to Stepanakert and enjoyed the wonderful fellowship of the indigenous Armenians, who have declared their independence, freeing them of the tyranny they faced before the collapse of the Soviet Union,” he said. “They exercised their rights to self-determination and their independence is irreversible.”

“I unequivocally stand with the people of the Republic of Artsakh and their right to self-determination. Armenians are the indigenous inhabitants of the region of Nagorno-Karabkh and are entitled to live in a free, democratic and independent homeland,” the letter concluded.

ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian applauded the unequivocal support from “a champion of the Republic of Artsakh”.

“Dr. McDermott’s support is always appreciated, but at this time where the Armenian nation is facing an existential threat against barbaric attacks from the twin dictatorships of Turkey and Azerbaijan, we thoroughly appreciate his speaking out and representing his Armenian-Australian constituents,” said Kayserian.

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