MEP Kovatchev calls on US, EU to triple efforts to find acceptable solution for Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh
YEREVAN, AUGUST 31, ARMENPRESS. Member of the European Parliament Andrey Kovatchev has called for increased pressure by the US and EU in order for Azerbaijan to end the blockade of Lachin Corridor and ensure movement in both directions.
In an interview with ARMENPRESS Brussels correspondent Lilit Gasparyan, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Armenia condemned Azerbaijan’s disregard for the 2020 trilateral statement.
ARMENPRESS: Mr. Kovatchev, what is your assessment to the ongoing situation in Nagorno-Karabakh?
Kovatchev: It cannot be any different than to say I'm very sad about the worsening humanitarian situation of the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, and to call again and again for international pressure and support. Pressure on Azerbaijan and support to the Armenian population in Nagorno Karabakh to find a possibility to open the Lachin corridor, which is the only direct link between Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. The current situation is a clear violation of the trilateral statement of 2020, where it was guaranteed that this corridor will be functioning in both directions and the guarantor on this should be the Russian military presence there, but they are not fulfilling their obligations. Which is again showing that the Russians are not a reliable partner in any situation and the other international partners, like the European Union, especially France, and the United States should double and triple their efforts to find an acceptable solution for the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh.
ARMENPRESS: It seems as if the humanitarian disaster isn’t treated too seriously by the EU executive body. What’s the reason of this indifference?
Kovatchev: I will not say indifference, the European Parliament has voted many times in favor of the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh and the opening of the Lachin corridor. What you are right about is that the European Union is not a military power that can forcefully implement our wishes for the security of Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh and to guarantee the Lachin corridor. However, we can have our monitoring mission there. We can call the Azerbaijani president and request that, first of all, the obligations from 2020 are fulfilled, and then the ruling of the International Court in Strasbourg is also honored. This will allow the people in Nagorno Karabakh to have a normal life, including food security and medical care, and ensure the proper functioning of the Lachin corridor in both directions. Instead of pressuring to achieve isolated goals, we should consider these elements as part of an overarching treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
This comprehensive peace treaty should include demarcation and delimitation of the border, guarantees for the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, and it must extend beyond relying solely on the Constitution and laws of Azerbaijan. International guarantees are necessary to safeguard the daily life, education, religion, career development, and social well-being of the Armenians, for whom Nagorno Karabakh is their native home. Moreover, all these elements should encompass infrastructural investments and enable Azerbaijan's access to Nakichevan. These essential elements need to be integral to the peace treaty between both countries, avoiding the removal of any component through force or the suffering of the people in Nagorno Karabakh.
ARMENPRESS: Indeed, the EU doesn’t have military levers, but it does have levers to apply sanctions and diplomatic opportunities. Even internationally reputed experts and insitutions are warning that what’s happening in Nagorno-Karabakh constitutes genocide. In the 21st century, when the civilized world is seeking genocide prevention measures, the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are being subjected to genocide. Something, somewhere is very wrong. Where do you see that mistake?
Kovatchev: I still believe that a military solution is not the path to resolution. The only viable approach to escape this dire situation is to persist with negotiations, facilitated by the mediation of the European Union, toward a comprehensive peace agreement that encompasses all necessary elements, including defining the border, mutual recognition of both countries’ territorial integrity, and ensuring guarantees for the Armenians in Karabakh. These elements resonate with what we know from the trilateral statement, as well as the Minsk Group and its fundamental principles.
The three fundamental principles consist of territorial integrity, the self-determination of peoples, and the renunciation of the use of force. Among these principles, two have been violated: there was the application of force, and the respect for the self-determination of the people has diminished. Consequently, one crucial aspect must involve providing guarantees for the livelihood and security of the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh.
ARMENPRESS: How do you assess the Azerbaijani kidnapping and subsequent jailing of three students in Lachin Corridor who were traveling to Armenia to continue their studies?
Kovatchev: I assume that Azerbaijani authorities will claim they are engaged in activities deemed illegal by their standards, which they may use as a justification. Similar explanations were provided regarding the prisoners of war and their repatriation. They contend that these individuals aren't prisoners of war but have committed criminal acts. However, this stance contradicts the judgments of the International Court of Justice in Strasbourg and the obligations to repatriate all detainees, regardless of whether they are accused of committing crimes or not. Both sides should adhere to the obligation of returning detainees to their respective sides. This standpoint has been the consistent position of the European Parliament from the very outset.
Our resolutions underscore that this principle also covers new cases. In no circumstance should any Armenian be subjected to abduction due to the aftermath of the 2020 war.
ARMENPRESS: As you said, the European Parliament has been reaffirming its stances with resolutions. But what else could the European Parliament do besides passing resolutions? Does it have any other tools? After all, the executive body often neglects the legislative’s decisions.
Kovatchev: Unfortunately, our authority is limited in foreign relations matters, and it primarily involves urging the European External Action Service and Member States to align with the Parliament's desired actions. This encompasses enhancing our capacity for mediation and monitoring in the border region. We also call on Azerbaijan to permit monitoring from their side of the border. Additionally, we aim to heighten the attentiveness of Member States' foreign activities toward achieving a peace treaty. My sincere hope is that we can alleviate the suffering of Armenians swiftly by opening the Lachin corridor in both directions and introducing confidence-, trust-building measures. This is immensely necessary.
I have also communicated to the Azerbaijani side that if they truly seek peace, they must display respect for the opposing side and cultivate confidence. This approach is crucial for garnering public support in Armenia, which would enable the Prime Minister to endorse this treaty. A relentless stream of negative news and continued suffering will not foster a conducive environment for mutual acceptance and solutions. Unilaterally demanding concessions without reciprocity is entirely unacceptable. The Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh require assurances for their lives and the smooth functioning of local governance.