Karabakh conflict – biggest obstacle for ensuring human rights, says top official (UPDATE 3)

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 12 November 2015 17:40 (UTC +04:00)
After gaining independence in early 1990s, building a legal state, forming democratic and pluralistic society was set as the main task for Azerbaijan, Ali Hasanov
Karabakh conflict – biggest obstacle for ensuring human rights, says top official (UPDATE 3)

Details added (first version posted on 12:22)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov.12


After gaining independence in early 1990s, building a legal state, forming democratic and pluralistic society was set as the main task for Azerbaijan, Ali Hasanov, Azerbaijani president's aide for public and political affairs said Nov.12.

He made the remarks during the 13th International Conference of Ombudsmen on the "Role of cooperation between domestic and international organizations in ensuring the constitutional rights and freedoms" in Baku.

The first constitution of independent Azerbaijan, which today marks 20 years and was authored by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev, envisages the main principles of separation of powers, liberal economy, building a civil society, human rights and freedoms which were successfully fulfilled at the subsequent stage, said the top official.

Hasanov noted that the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the biggest obstacle for democratic development in the region, as well as for ensuring human rights and freedoms.

Undoubtedly, if not for this problem, or if it was resolved on time, the region's countries would be more developed, peace and security would be more sustainable, according to the top official.

Hasanov further said that today, Azerbaijan is a democratic, dynamically developing country which pursues independent policy and has high reputation on the international arena.

The civil society is developing in Azerbaijan, the freedom of expression and information of everyone is ensured and necessary conditions have been created for the activities of political parties, NGOs and media outlets in the country, he said.

The decisive position of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is that today, independent policy, liberal economic system and strong civil society are the main factors ensuring the dynamic development of every country, Hasanov said.

"Therefore, Azerbaijan pursues coherent policy for strengthening the democratic principles, promoting human rights and freedoms, further developing the civil society institutions and stimulating their activities," he added.

Hasanov further noted that Azerbaijan, during the years of its independence, has created its own model of development and has presented it to the world as a progressive experience.

"In just 10 years, economic potential grew by over three times, and such problems as poverty and unemployment were resolved drastically, social and economic infrastructure was reconstructed in line with the most advanced standards, and tremendous work was carried out to form a sustainable social welfare and the country's modern image in general," he said.

Hasanov added that Azerbaijan, becoming a political, economic and humanitarian center in the region, has taken its deserved place in the system of international relations, and has gained an image of a strong state and a reliable partner.

This historic breakthrough, as he said, was possible thanks to President Ilham Aliyev's independent and well thought-out policy, which is based on national will, and achieving it was not easy.

"At the end of the last century, Azerbaijan faced with territorial claims and aggressive policy of neighboring Armenia," said Hasanov. "Armenians deliberately turned the conflict into an armed confrontation."

"Back in late 1980s, over 200,000 Azerbaijanis were deported from Armenia," noted Hasanov, recalling that in early 1992, Armenia launched military operations against Azerbaijan.

"Genocide was committed on the night from February 25 to 26, 1992 in the town of Khojaly, where Azerbaijanis lived, hundreds of residents were killed, and over a thousand were captured," he said.

Hasanov further noted that Armenians occupied seven adjacent districts (17,000 sq. km) that are located outside the Nagorno-Karabakh region (4,400 sq. km) and are four times larger than that region. He also said that about one million Azerbaijanis have become internally displaced.

"Today, 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories are under occupation," he said. "Over 20,000 citizens of Azerbaijan were killed in the battles for Karabakh, up to 100,000 people were injured, and 50,000 people became handicapped."

"The entire social, economic and cultural infrastructure was destroyed in the occupied territories," added Hasanov.

The president's aide further noted that the UN Security Council adopted seven declarations and four resolutions (822, 853, 874, and 884) in connection with the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenian armed forces.

"However, Armenia is still not fulfilling the requirements of those resolutions, continues to hold a position that contradicts international law," Hasanov stressed.

He also recalled that on Dec. 2-3, 1996, the OSCE Lisbon Summit adopted a document that serves as an international legal framework for resolution of the conflict.

"Thanks to President Heydar Aliyev's hard work and diplomatic talent, the summit adopted a special statement that sets a political and legal framework for resolving the conflict," he said. "The statement was supported by 53 states, except for Armenia, and was reflected in the final decision of the Lisbon Summit."

Hasanov added that other influential international organizations have also adopted numerous decisions and resolutions supporting Azerbaijan's fair position on the conflict's settlement.

"The fact that a large part of Azerbaijan's territory is under occupation of Armenian military, and that Nagorno-Karabakh region is being controlled by separatists was reflected in a resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Jan. 25, 2005," he said.

The presidential aide added that the resolution condemned Armenia's ethnic cleansing policy, and reflected a concern that this policy and military operations would lead to emergence of mono-ethnic territories.

According to Hasanov, it was also noted in the document that occupation of another state's territory by a member of the Council of Europe openly contradicts that structure's commitments.

He further noted that on Oct. 1, 2015, a rapporteur was appointed at a meeting of the PACE Political Affairs Committee for preparation of a report "On the growth of tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan".

The European Parliament also adopted documents on resolving the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which undermines security in South Caucasus, he said.

The resolution "On the need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus" adopted by this structure on May 20, 2010, demanded the immediate withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijan's occupied lands, Hasanov added.

The top official pointed out that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has adopted up to 20 documents on the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on the norms and principles of the international law.

Moreover, the declaration adopted by NATO on May 20, 2010, said that the organization supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova and speaks for the peaceful settlement of all conflicts, the presidential aide said.

Hasanov said that Azerbaijan attaches great importance to ensuring peace and security in South Caucasus and Caspian Sea region and pursues purposeful policy in this regard.

Armenia, which holds 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands under occupation, has territorial claims against other countries in the region, makes claims against Turkey over the so-called Armenian genocide and demands lands and compensations, seriously threatens regional security with its occupation policy, according to the top official.

Armenia has chosen terror as means of achieving its goals, said Hasanov.

"From 1984 to the present day, Armenian terrorist groups have committed 388 terrorist attacks on Azerbaijan's territory," he said, adding that 1,189 got killed, 1,705 more got injured and handicapped as a result of those attacks.

Hasanov pointed out that Azerbaijan is a country which has opened the Caspian Sea basin for western countries and has turned this territory into an arena of international cooperation.

"Transnational energy projects implemented by Azerbaijan during the years of independence jointly with its partners, played an important role in the region's development and ensuring its energy security," said the top official.

"Today, Azerbaijan also makes significant contribution to meeting Europe's energy demand," he said, adding that Armenia regards Azerbaijan's success with envy and by threatening the stability in the region, it tries to hinder the implementation of important energy and transport projects.

The overview of Armenia's policy following the collapse of the USSR suggests that this country was isolated from the projects ensuring the region's economic and political development, fell into self-isolation and faced serious social and economic problems, said the top official.

The presidential aide noted that although Armenia is located on the area which can be used for transporting the energy resources of the Caspian Sea basin to European markets, it didn't use this geopolitical privilege which led to grave consequences for the country.