Expert: Unresolved territorial conflict hinders progress in establishing democratic values in Azerbaijan

Expert: Unresolved territorial conflict hinders progress in establishing democratic values in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 12 / Trend E.Ostapenko /

Western journalist Afua Hirsch's article negating the democratic development of Azerbaijan does not give an objective assessment of the situation in the country, ignoring the one important factor - an unresolved territorial conflict, British Transatlantic Institute Director Ziba Norman said.

"The publication of such critical articles requires providing detailed content to give the reader an opportunity to objectively assess the situation," Norman told Trend. She commented on the nature of the anti-Azerbaijani blog recently posted on the British publication "The Guardian".

Hirsch's article entitled "Why Azerbaijan is still a member of the Council of Europe?" very sharply and critically describes the situation of democracy and human rights in the country.

Norman said the fact of the presence of an unresolved conflict retarding the development of democratic values should not be underestimated.

There will be a justifiable fear that the significance of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can be discounted by any group desiring to destabilize the region until the conflict is not resolved. These legitimate concerns will impede progress towards a completely open society, Norman said.

"The author should really have provided a full context, detailed account of the Nagorno Karabakh, and note that in the absence of a full solution, Azerbaijan's progress, both in economic and social areas, will inevitably be impeded", Norman said.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. The parties have been staying in the regime of a ceasefire agreement since 1994, however armed incidents happen on the contact line from time to time.

Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the occupied territories.

A piece from the Guardian publication: "And in the same country, a journalist was sentenced to 2 and a half years in jail for terrorism after he wrote about a 1992 massacre. He has been further charged with tax evasion charges, and the possession of heroin after a prison search found 0.22 grams of the substance. That he could have actually committed the drug offence has been described as "highly improbable".

The story does not say what the journalist wrote about the events of 1992 and what were the events.

"The article probably refers to the massacre of 1992, but the reader, who does not know about the massacres in the Azerbaijani Khojali region, is not able to evaluate the facts without sufficient context and, of course, will certainly not appreciate the precarious nature of a nation like Azerbaijan in which a frozen conflict might thaw violently at any time", Norman said.

Armenian military forces committed genocide acts in the town of Khojali, Azerbaijan, with the population of 7,000 people on Feb. 26 1992. There were 3,000 people in the town at the time of attack.

As a result more than 600 people were killed, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 old men. 1,000 peaceful people of different age became physicly disabled during Khojali genocide. 8 families were completely annihilated, 130 children lost one parents, while 25 lost both of them. 1,275 peace residents were taken hostages, while the fate of 150 of them is still unknown.

Norman urges not to forget that the territory which is now under the occupation, recognized by the international community as the Azerbaijani.

"Instead of condemning, it would be much more helpful if Azerbaijan was given full international support to address the Nagorno-Karabakh issue," she said.

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