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Nagorno-Karabakh: a frozen conflict.

By Dr Eleni Theocharous

THE CPFA (Political Centre for Foreign Affairs- Brussels) organised, in collaboration with the Presidency of Armenia, an International Conference in Stepanakert for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Liberation of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).

Jose Manuel Barroso, former President of the European Committee, Jose Maria Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain, Jack Straw, Former Foreign Minister of the UK, and I were invited to travel together with President Serzh Sargsyan of Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh and deliver speeches for the occasion.

After intolerable pressures on the three European politicians from both Turkey-Azerbaijan and America not to go to an "occupied country" officially belonging to Azerbaijan, they cancelled their trip and the government of Armenia was accused of creating a "diplomatic scandal" and crisis by inviting officials and MEPs to a disputed land.

Azerbaijan said that the fact of coinciding the anniversary of Karabakh independence with this event was a "provocation" that could lead to strong consequences and list of non grata people, so President Sargsyan of Armenia was obliged and decided to cancel everything with officials and politicians.

I am very saddened over the cancellation of this important event and I regret that the three politicians decided not to participate.

The celebration of the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh makes me deeply moved and very proud of the achievements of the Artsakhi people.

I had the privilege to be present in Artsakh many times during the decade of the struggle for freedom and self-determination, working as a volunteer doctor at the military hospital in Stepanakert, the children's hospital and elsewhere, helping the 'fedayin' defence soldiers and the population.

I am very proud for living the epos of victory and liberation of this Armenian territory. My heart and thoughts are always there, and I am ready to return if the circumstances deem it necessary.

As a Member of the European Parliament, and as the President of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group, I have devoted myself to defending the interests of the Armenian people and I can assure you I will never stop emphasising the achievements of the Artsakhi people to every authority, either at the European or at global level.

Nagorno-Karabakh has always been an Armenian land. The illegal decisions of the Soviet authoritarian regime to incorporate the region into the artificial state of Azerbaijan will never be accepted by the Armenian people. The Armenians of Artsakh have been living there for centuries and have been developing their own civilisation and culture, evident in every single square kilometre of their homeland. They are not conquerors, but only the lawful inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh, who have fought and are still fighting against the Azeri administration and the Azeri troops in order to defend their freedom, their dignity and their land, as provided by Article 51 of the UN Charter.

On 20 February 1988, the Regional Council of Nagorno-Karabakh claimed from the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR the removal of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan. Since then, an ongoing political and military conflict has been underway, while the Armenians are struggling for their legal rights and interests.

The Armenians fought for their legal right to define the status quo of Nagorno-Karabakh. They have never accepted, in any legal or political way, the status quo enforced by the Soviet regime which abounds to illegalities.

In this regard, Armenians deem that they are not legally bound by the decisions taken by the Soviet system. They have never accepted that they are part of Azerbaijan. On the contrary, they consciously and constantly fight for their right of deciding their own destiny and future. Hence, the Artsakhi people have never abandoned their right to self-determination and have fought bravely for decades, in order to establish that right and gain their freedom.

It is evident that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh fulfil the legal and political criteria required by the UN Charter (Article 1, Paragraph 2) regarding the right of people to self-determination. As I have said before, I strongly believe that they have the right to freely decide what their future should be and, to that end, the international community should respect the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the democratic values and principles upon which it is based.

A fair and sustainable solution to this "frozen conflict" would therefore mean awarding self-determination to Nagorno-Karabakh. Under no circumstances will we ever accept bringing the people of Nagorno-Karabakh under Azeri rule and thus turning them into slaves.

Allow me at this point to say that in no way does the case of Nagorno-Karabakh simulate the case of the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC). The latter was illegally established after the Turkish invasion in 1974, the occupation of 37 per cent of Cyprus and the continuous efforts of altering the demographic character of the island by the means of illegal settlement. The 'TRNC' is in effect not recognised by the international community in any way.

Dr Eleni Theocharous is an MEP and leader of the Solidarity Movement

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Geographic Code:9AZER
Date:Sep 3, 2016
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