Armenia Criticizes PACE over the Controversial Report on Karabakh
06.11.2015
12:00
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was heavily criticized in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh following the approval of the controversial report on Karabakh at the PACE Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. Criticisms are addressed to PACE and report author Robert Walter (United Kingdom), a rapporteur of the PACE Political Affairs Committee. The Armenian authorities, though, are also criticized, and the project’s approval is described as Yerevan’s diplomatic defeat.

Earlier, Armenian lawmakers insisted they would not cooperate with Robert Walter who was tasked by PACE with drafting a report on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The wording in the report titled “Escalation of Violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and Other Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan” prompted furious protests from Armenian members of the Strasbourg-based assembly and the government in Yerevan. It predetermined Walter’s findings and ran counter to statements made by U.S., Russian and French mediators trying to broker a Karabakh settlement, they said.

Walter’s report, in particular, fixes the need “to withdraw Armenian armed forces out of Nagorno Karabakh and other occupied territories and establish in these territories full control of Azerbaijan.” It also documents the need for a peacekeeping force adjunct to the OSCE “to strengthen the security of Nagorno Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”

The approval of the report, Tevan Poghosyan from the Heritage Faction believes, will not affect the conflict settlement. “This document can become a tool Azerbaijani officials and Baku-sponsored Western politicians may use to make the situation tense. Actually, the conflict settlement depends only on the will of Karabakh people.”

The report displays the lack of coordinated, consistent work of the Armenian diplomacy, Poghosyan said. “Now this report is approved and some months later another document may follow. We must know how to counteract Azerbaijan’s initiatives and, if needed, come up with our own initiatives.”

Davit Babayan, Press Secretary of the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, said the controversial wording in the report is the result of Azerbaijan’s “caviar diplomacy.”

“The document appears to have been drafted by the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan rather than a European official,” said Babayan who joined the discussion via a video call.

The Armenian side believes Walter’s selection is not accidental. Walter led a team of PACE members that observed Azerbaijan’s last presidential election held in 2013. Unlike other Western observers who reported widespread electoral fraud, the PACE mission concluded that the vote met democratic standards.

Armenia’s participation in the report preparation will mean to legitimize it, said political analyst Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan. The draft resolution is due to be debated by the Assembly at PACE’s January 2016 session where the Armenian side may voice about the drawbacks of the report and rights violations in Azerbaijan.

Political expert Suren Zolyan believes the report is Armenia’s diplomatic defeat. “The adoption of a report with such wording is more than a diplomatic defeat. It is a diplomatic disgrace. We need to understand that the draft report is already a PACE document, which actually justifies the Azerbaijani aggression. Now we need to be concerned over the operations of Armenian diplomatic team,” said Zolyan.

Arshaluys Mghdesyan, Editor-Coordinator

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