Politics 15:04 20/05/2021 Region

European Parliament demands immediate and unconditional release of all Armenian POWs in motion for resolution

The European Parliament is considering a joint motion for a resolution on prisoners of war in the aftermath of the most recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The draft resolution refers to its previous resolutions on Armenia and Azerbaijan, the tripartite ceasefire statement by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia of 9 November 2020, the Human Rights Watch report of 19 March 2021 entitled ‘Azerbaijan: Armenian POWs Abused in Custody’, the EU and OSCE Minsk Group statements and the European Court of Human Right’s notification to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers of 9 March 2021, under Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court, of interim measures in relation to the recent armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“Whereas since the first war over Nagorno-Karabakh between 1988 and 1994, the international community has been trying to broker a lasting and comprehensive peace settlement for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, led by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs;

Whereas the most recent armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan from 27 September to 10 November 2020 took the lives of more than 5 000 soldiers, injured and killed hundreds and displaced thousands of civilians; whereas it continues to afflict the population owing to a lack of information about the whereabouts of relatives, the return of only some prisoners of war and other captive persons, problems with the return of human remains, impediments to access to humanitarian assistance and the destruction of basic infrastructure;

Whereas the people affected over the course of this long-standing conflict have already experienced excessive suffering; whereas overall, the conflict has led to extensive and unacceptable civilian casualties;

Whereas hostilities ended after 44 days following an agreement on a complete ceasefire in and around Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, which was signed on 9 November 2020 and entered into force on 10 November 2020;

Whereas point 8 of the tripartite ceasefire statement stipulates that prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees, as well as the remains of those killed, must be exchanged; whereas these exchanges should be conducted according to the ‘all for all’ principle;

Whereas since the hostilities were suspended, several exchanges of prisoners, both military and civilian, have been conducted, with the most recent taking place on 4 May 2021;

Whereas according to worrying reports, approximately 200 Armenians are being held in Azerbaijani captivity; whereas the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) stated that it has received complaints regarding 249 Armenians captured by Azerbaijan; whereas the ECtHR has applied interim measures with regard to the 229 Armenians, and 183 still remain in force; whereas the ECtHR concluded on 9 March 2021 that Azerbaijan had failed to comply with the measures, judging the information provided as too general and limited; whereas the Azerbaijani authorities acknowledged that 72 Armenians are in their captivity; whereas with regard to a further 112 individuals, no information has been submitted by Azerbaijan to the ECtHR; whereas the fate of the other Armenian POWs is unknown; whereas since the cessation of hostilities, 73 Armenian POWs and civilians have been repatriated to Armenia;

The European Parliament,

Demands the immediate and unconditional release of all Armenian prisoners, both military and civilian, detained during and after the conflict, and that Azerbaijan refrain from making arbitrary detentions in the future; urges the parties to fully implement the tripartite ceasefire statement of 9 November 2020, which provides for an exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees, as well as the remains of those killed during hostilities;

Expresses its grave concern about credible reports, according to which Armenian prisoners of war and other captive persons have been and are being held in degrading conditions, and that they have been subjected to inhuman treatment and torture when captured or during their detention; condemns all instances of torture and enforced disappearances, including those perpetrated in armed conflict, as well as the ill-treatment and desecration of bodies;

Recalls that there is currently no publically available credible information about Azerbaijani POWs and detainees in Armenian captivity;

Strongly condemns the incident that took place on 9 April 2021, when the Azerbaijani authorities dispatched an empty plane which was supposed to repatriate Armenian detainees; considers this a highly insensitive act and, moreover, one that illustrates a generally degrading attitude from Azerbaijan towards Armenian detainees and their families;

Insists on the urgent need to refrain from any hostile rhetoric or actions that may be perceived as inciting hatred or outright violence or as supporting impunity, or that risk undermining the efforts to establish and promote an atmosphere conducive to trust and reconciliation, cooperation and sustainable peace;

Calls on the Government of Azerbaijan to cooperate fully with the ECtHR on the issue of Armenian prisoners and to comply with the interim measures of the Court, which ordered Azerbaijan to provide detailed information on the conditions of detention of the prisoners, their state of health and measures undertaken to return them;

Highlights the urgent need to ensure that humanitarian assistance can reach those in need, that the security of the Armenian population and its cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh is ensured, and that internally displaced persons and refugees can return to their former places of residence;

Recalls the efforts of the international community spearheaded by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group to find a peaceful, lasting, comprehensive and sustainable solution on the basis of the OSCE 2009 Basic Principles (Non-Use of Force, Territorial Integrity, and the Equal Rights and Self-Determination of Peoples) with the objective of determining the future status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region; recalls that this can only be achieved through a negotiated political solution with genuine commitment from all concerned parties; calls on the parties to resume high-level political dialogue at the earliest opportunity, under the auspices of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group; calls on the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments, as well as international mediators, to systematically include women in the peace process and consult with women human rights defenders;

Regrets that the EU Member States participating in the OSCE Minsk Group were not present when the ceasefire agreement was brokered, and that the EU did not demonstrate leadership in bringing two of its highly valued Eastern Partners to the negotiating table;

Deplores the opening of the so-called Trophy Park in Baku, open to the public since 14 April 2021, as it further intensifies long-lasting hostile sentiments and undermines mutual trust between Armenia and Azerbaijan; urges, therefore, that it be closed without delay;

Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) and the Commission to offer all necessary assistance to both Armenia and Azerbaijan to consolidate the ceasefire, and support any efforts leading to stability, reconstruction, confidence building and post-war rehabilitation, as well as to closely follow the implementation of the provisions of the ceasefire, especially with regard to its monitoring mechanism; calls on the European External Action Service, the Commission and the Member States to increase their support for and cooperation with civil society and human rights defenders, in particular in relation to restrictions on their work; considers that the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus has an important role to play in this regard;

Calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue supporting the provision of urgent humanitarian assistance and the work of international organisations in this area and on the protection of cultural and religious heritage, as well as to support civil society organisations in Armenia and Azerbaijan that genuinely contribute to reconciliation;

Calls on the VP/HR, together with the Member States, to also address security, stability and regional cooperation in the South Caucasus at the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit in autumn 2021,” the draft resolution reads, in part.

Source Panorama.am
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