Brussels, 18 July 2023 – As a pan-European grassroots organization, representing a significant part of the Armenian diaspora in Europe, the EAFJD expresses its profound disappointment and indignation regarding President Charles Michel’s press remarks following the trilateral meeting with President Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Pashinyan of Armenia on 15 July 2023.
President Michel’s approach, which equates the issue of delivering “humanitarian supplies” from Aghdam to Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh with the crucial matter of opening the Lachin corridor, is fundamentally erroneous. As EU citizens, we condemn President Michel’s support for Azerbaijan’s agenda of using Aghdam to provide so-called “humanitarian assistance” to the same Armenian population, which has been subjected to starvation, terror, and blockade by Azerbaijan for more than seven months now. In fact, Azerbaijan has been gradually tightening the lethal circle around the indigenous Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh since December, pushing them further into despair.
By expressing EU’s support for Azerbaijan’s agenda, the President of the EU Council not only legitimizes the ethnic cleansing policy of an authoritarian regime, but also goes against the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of the United Nations of 22 February, which ordered Azerbaijan to immediately lift the blockade of the Lachin corridor. These press remarks also undermine the resolution adopted by the European Parliament in March 2023, which calls on the EU Council to impose sanctions on Azerbaijani government officials if Azerbaijan fails to promptly implement the ICJ’s order. This approach by the EU leadership allows Baku to avoid pressure to unblock the Lachin corridor.
There are several other highly problematic aspects in Charles Michel’s press remarks on 15 July, such as using the term “Karabakh” instead of “Nagorno Karabakh,” which clearly carries political implications. Futhermore, President Michel’s statement fails to adequately address the dire humanitarian situation of 120,000 civilians, does not outline Azerbaijan’s obligations to the international community, overlooks the need for international guarantees in the dialogue between Baku and Stepanakert, and disregards the importance of the return of prisoners of war by Azerbaijan.
On 14 July, in the run up to the trilateral meeting, 470 European organizations, including the EAFJD, addressed an open letter to President Michel with 6 concrete demands, aimed at defending the fundamental and inalienable rights of the indigenous Armenian population. While we are grateful for the established communication, as EU citizens we had hoped that this will lead to concrete results. Alas, the content of the press remarks proves the contrary.
Mediating for peace cannot be based on the logic of gradually imposing more concessions on the weaker side, while slowly legitimizing Azerbaijan’s destructive policy. This approach turns the EU into an accomplice of Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy in Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh. As EU citizens, we urge the EU leadership to immediately stop this approach, since everyone involved in the negotiation process carries direct responsibility for the outcome and will be held accountable.
Taking all the above-mentioned into consideration, the EAFJD calls on President Michel to revise his press remarks. Without such a revision, his mediation efforts appear to be biased. We still hold hope that the voice of justice will be heard and that EU’s commitment to human dignity and human rights is not a hollow principle, followed only when it is aligned with political interests.