April 2 marks the anniversary of the aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against Karabakh. Have these events affected the position of the official Stepanakert?
The position of the official Stepanakert has undergone no changes. In this context, it is appropriate to speak merely about the consolidation of our position. The people and authorities of Artsakh are committed to the chosen path of building and developing an independent, democratic state and reaching its international recognition.
Will the Karabakh side officially seek to punish Azerbaijani military for the violations of International Humanitarian Law?
We are confident that the international community should be aware of the facts of numerous war crimes and flagrantviolations of International Humanitarian Law committed by Azerbaijan during the April aggression, and all efforts shouldbe exerted to convict the perpetrators of the crime and hold them accountable. That is the only way to prevent the recurrence of such crimes in the future.
We have already carried out certain work in this direction. In particular, the MFA of Artsakh has circulated note verbales in the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe presenting the details of the reasons and consequences of the Azerbaijani aggression, as well as the blatant violations of human rights and war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces. We have also circulatedthe statements of the Ministry of Defense of Artsakh and the State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing Persons, the materials provided by the Prosecutor General's Office on the criminal cases launched into the crimes of the Azerbaijani side, as well as the interim public reports of theArtsakh Ombudsman on the atrocities committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces during the April aggression.
We also attach great importance to the role of the Armenian media in informing the international audience about the crimes of the Azerbaijani armed forces.
Do you think there is any progress in terms of the international representation of Karabakh over recent years?
Yes, according to our assessment, there is progress inthe international representation ofArtsakh. In total, resolutions supporting the rights of Artsakh people to self-determination were adopted by seven U.S. states and cities, one Australian state, as well as the Basque Parliament. Fifteen declarations on cooperation between the cities of Artsakh and the U.S., France, Basque Country and Brazil were signed. An agreement between Artsakh and Drôme department of France was signed.
One of the main goals of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh is to strengthen and further develop these positive trends.
Not so long ago the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe examined "Chiragov and Others v. Armenia" and "Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan" cases, and the adopted decision urging Azerbaijan to provide the action plan till June was made. Do you think the problem of refugees can be solved?
"Chiragov and Others v. Armenia" and "Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan" cases are particular cases and relate exclusively tothe protection of individual rights, and first of all, the legal protection of property rights. Regarding the issue of refugees and internally displaced persons, it is one of the consequences of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Artsakh, and its comprehensive solution can be found only within the peace process.
How do you assess the situation with Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin, and the attempts of Azerbaijan to exert pressure on European deputies, researchers and companies?
The abovementioned examplesare another manifestation of Azerbaijan's campaign aimed at isolatingArtsakh. However, as we see, these steps lead to the opposite result: numerous foreign journalists, bloggers and politicians criticized and condemned Azerbaijan’s policy as a violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms, in particular, the right to freedom of speech and movement. Moreover, we witness that the steps taken by Azerbaijan create more interest towards Artsakh, as well as contribute to the increase of the number of foreigners visiting our country.
Do you think changing the name of the Republic could become the reason for some ambiguous perception among non-engaged representatives of the international community?
We believe that over the time, with appropriate works, the historical name of our country – Artsakhwill become more familiar to the international audience. And our media could also have a role.