President of the European Commission
Mr. Herman Van Rompuy
President of the European Council
Mr. Martin Schulz
President of the European Parliament
Ms. Anne Brasseur
President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
Mr. Thorbyorn Jagland
Secretary-General of the Council of Europe
Mr. Borys Tarasyuk and Mr. Yevgeni Kirilov
Co-Presidents of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
Ms. Catherine Ashton
High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy
Mr. Stefan Füle
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
All members of European Parliament, Council of Europe, Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
I am writing to you in order to address the grave situation on-going in the Republic of Ukraine. As I monitor the events unfolding around the Ukrainian crisis closely, I note strong discrepancies in the behavior of the European Union related to such illegal attacks against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries in the Eastern Partnership of the EU.
I support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and consider it unacceptable to change the internationally recognized borders of an independent state without their will. The European Parliament, we noticed, has released a number of reports and resolutions condemning the breach of international laws, while most leaders of the EU, including yourself and your colleagues, have voiced strong and powerful criticisms. The United Nations Security Council has tried on the 15th of March to pass a Resolution on Ukraine. The EU and its Member States have adopted sanctions as well as other actions against Russia as well. All these actions show the clear support of Europe for the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Why then doesn’t the European Union support the same kind of actions and declarations when it comes to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan?
Territorial integrity is a basic principle of international law that allows, in our modern world, for the normal and peaceful functioning of world politics and diplomacy. It is the very fundamental basis on which we can discuss and work and prosper at international level, and it relies on the fact that no other state can interfere or promote separatist movements, nor attack or occupy militarily the territories of another state, nor try to enforce an aggressive change of borders. We have seen virtually every violation of this principle take part in Azerbaijan, as we are seeing it violated in Ukraine. But why are the answers of Europe different?
A law is a law and should never be interpreted differently for different countries. Azerbaijan has almost 1/5 of its territory under occupation for 24 years now by Armenian soldiers, who control and do as they please in Nagorno-Karabakh and 7 (seven) surrounding regions. Azerbaijan has suffered under this occupation, with over one million refugees and internally displaced persons, and hundreds of thousands of others affected. There are several United Nations Resolutions which have not been vetoed and which have passed, as well as a number of texts from the EU, all supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Where are then the sanctions against Armenia?
I want to remind you that Nagorno-Karabakh is NOT a frozen conflict and that it deserves just as much attention as does the crisis in Ukraine. The implications of the Armenian occupation for the future will be very grave, and we are now witnessing a time of impending humanitarian catastrophe and danger. We have over four hundred thousand people facing humanitarian catastrophe due to Armenian occupation of the Sarsang Water Reservoir, polluting arable lands, depriving people of water and showing clear signs of impending rupture and flooding.
We have 410.000 citizens of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, an Azeri territory enjoying full political and European rights and freedoms from Azerbaijan, who are being blockaded and threatened by Armenia. The lives of these peoples, as those living under Armenian occupation and those having fled the aggression, all are depending on the help and actions of the international community. However, we now see that there is a dangerous double standard from the European Union, which fails to be consistent on the principles it supports.
I demand from the European Institutions to show the same level of support, through declarations and supportive actions for Azerbaijan and its territorial integrity, as is done for Ukraine today. I demand for the EU to recognize that Nagorno-Karabakh is not a frozen conflict, but a dangerous source of instability for the whole South Caucasus and an occupied territory, where shots are fired by Armenian snipers daily and where military action by Armenia is a constant threat, including against the Sarsang Reservoir. I simply demand that the European Union upholds its own resolutions and those of the United Nations.
Otherwise, we have to decide why we are being shown this double discourse. We have to understand the roots of European hypocrisy and to accept that Azerbaijan is being discriminated against by the EU, an area that claims to fight against all possible forms of discrimination. Azerbaijan is a strong, tolerant and democratic nation and I have to ask you, therefore, what makes our country worth ignoring and what makes it less important than Ukraine?
Azerbaijan wishes more and stronger cooperation with the Union. Yet if Armenia sees that there is no action from the EU against its aggressive policy, it will understand that it can do even more, that it can threaten peace and stability in the Caucasus even further.
A considerable part of our territories is under occupation. We live with a blockaded region, Nakhchivan. 410 thousand people of Nakhchivan, 450 thousand people of 6 (six) regions, and almost 1 (one) million Azerbaijani people – totally 1.850.000 Azerbaijani citizens – live under difficult social and economic conditions, being deprived of all their rights, due to accordingly the Armenian aggression, blockade, occupation of Sarsang water reservoir, and military occupation continuing for over 20 years. So far, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe ignored three motions on this issue. The Council of Europe supports and protects Armenia by all means, even avoids to appoint a rapporteur who could shed more truth on this violation of territorial integrity. Over four UNSC Resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh (UNSC 822, 853, 874 and 887/1993) are also ignored and we are running out of time for peace and stability in the region. Faced with the threat of Armenian aggression, we now need European action and help more than ever. Anticipating your reply to my address, I call on you not to be satisfied only with the adoption of resolutions, but also to successfully implement them, and apply sanctions against Armenia.
We expect you, therefore, to show that there is no double standard, no hypocrisy, and no discrimination. Give Azerbaijan the same level of support as you do Ukraine. Let’s respect the principle of territorial integrity everywhere in the world, and show that you truly respect the values the European Union is built upon. I call on you to decide upon discussing the issue of occupation of Azerbaijani territories as well during the events at all levels where the issues on Ukraine are discussed.
With cordial regards,
Chair of the Azerbaijan Delegation to the EuroNest Parliamentary Assembly
Member of the Council of Europe