On January 25, 2023, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development convened two separate meetings on Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockade of Artsakh.
The meetings were organized following last week’s unanimous passage of a motion presented to the committee by Bloc Quebecois’ Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Stéphane Bergeron, which called for a maximum of three meetings, during which the committee would have the opportunity to hear from witnesses representing the Republic of Artsakh, as well as experts and community representatives.
This was a historic achievement, considering that for the first time, it provided an opportunity for Artsakh state representatives to appear in front of the Canadian Parliament and make the case for the 120,000 besieged Armenians of Artsakh and their struggle to live as they choose.
During the first meeting, ANCC’s Co-President Shahen Mirakian appeared alongside Dr. Taline Papazian (Lecturer at Sciences Po, École de l’Air), Robert Avetisyan (Republic of Artsakh’s Permanent Representative to the US & Canada) and Gegham Stepanyan (Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Artsakh). During his testimony, Mirakian provided the committee with a comprehensive understanding of where Armenian Canadians stand on this issue, emphasizing the need for Canada to use its considerable international influence and pressure Azerbaijan to end its genocidal blockade of Artsakh and deter Baku’s ethnic cleansing campaign in the region. Dr. Papazian provided testimony related to the geopolitical context of the ongoing situation and offered recommendations on how Canada can help end the latest humanitarian catastrophe orchestrated by Azerbaijan.
Artsakh’s Permanent Representative to the US & Canada, Robert Avetisyan and the Republic’s Human Rights Defender, Gegham Stepanyan, made excellent presentations, providing committee members with real facts from the ground related to the grave humanitarian consequences and the geopolitical implications of Azerbaijan’s genocidal aggression as well their policy priorities and vision for a free and independent Artsakh.
The second meeting of the committee heard from Olesya Vartanyan (Senior South Caucasus Analyst at the International Crisis Group), as well as Professor Christopher Waters (Professor of Law at the University of Windsor). Both witnesses shared grounded information on the ongoing situation in Artsakh, calling for an end to Azerbaijan’s destabilizing efforts and for increased international pressure to find a fair and permanent resolution to the conflict. During the second meeting, additional witnesses who appeared in front of the committee spared no effort to disseminate state-sponsored propaganda, unashamedly denying the suffering of the 120,000 innocent Armenians of Artsakh. Both witnesses were thoroughly questioned by committee members and at times, their foreign-sponsored talking points were pointedly exposed.
The Armenian National Committee of Canada thanks committee members for their ongoing advocacy and leadership on this important issue and remains committed to continuing nationwide advocacy efforts to end Artsakh’s blockade and ensure that their voices are heard in the pursuit of a free and independent Artsakh.