Question: Recently, Rapporteur of the PACE Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy Robert Walter appealed to the authorities of Nagorno Karabakh, asking to assist in visiting Nagorno Karabakh for preparing a report entitled "Escalation of violence in Nagorno Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan". What was the Karabakh side’s response to the PACE Rapporteur?
Answer: Indeed, on September 22, Rapporteur of PACE Robert Walter sent a letter to the NKR authorities asking to assist in visiting Artsakh. In response we communicated to Mr. Walter the position of the NKR on the issue.
We think that the title of the report reflects the position of only one party to the conflict, i.e. Azerbaijan, thus clearly pre-determining its content and conclusions. In our opinion, such an approach violates the basic principles of the preparation of reports of the Council of Europe, which are impartiality and neutrality, and becomes an obstacle to the cooperation with the authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
In addition, the report will also address the political and military aspects of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict. In this regard it was underlined that issues related to the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict are dealt with in an agreed format, which has a mandate for mediation recognized by the international community. Such a format agreed by all three parties to the conflict is the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship, which has accumulated the necessary experience and expertise to professionally and consistently do its job on an institutional basis.
Question: How can the Council of Europe and the PACE contribute to the settlement of the Karabakh conflict?
Answer: The goal of the Council of Europe is to build a Europe based on the principles of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We are convinced that it is through the promotion of these values that the Council of Europe and the PACE will be able to make their unique contribution to the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement process.
It is no coincidence that in parallel with the increased repressions against journalists and human rights activists, as well as limiting the fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan, official Baku's stance in the negotiation process becomes more and more uncompromising, its rhetoric more aggressive and the extent and nature of the ceasefire violations by the Azerbaijani party more menacing.
In the existing situation, the inactive stance of the PACE in view of Azerbaijan's rejection of the democratic values is confusing. It is not surprising that Azerbaijan develops a false sense of permissiveness, which was reflected in the statement of the head of the Azerbaijani delegation to the PACE that "the Council of Europe belongs to Azerbaijan". It is noteworthy that this phrase was voiced after Robert Walter rejected the adoption of MP Mr. Strasser's report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan at the PACE winter session in 2013, arguing that the Rapporteur had not been able to visit Azerbaijan.
Question: Recently PACE President Anne Brasseur stated that the rights of the people living in Nagorno Karabakh must be protected, as they are also members of the Council of Europe. How do you assess this statement?
Answer: We share the positions of both Ms. Brasseur and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland that all the citizens of the European space, regardless of where they live, should enjoy the Council of Europe's standards.
For their part, the NKR takes consistent steps in this direction and has already unilaterally acceded to a number of conventions of the Council of Europe, including the European Cultural Convention, the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Convention on the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe and the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage.