The European Parliament demands the immediate and unconditional release of all Armenian prisoners

15:40, Thursday, 20 May, 2021
The European Parliament demands the immediate and unconditional release of all Armenian prisoners

Michael Gahler, Andrey Kovatchev, Isabel Wiseler‑Lima, Sandra Kalniete, Tom Vandenkendelaere, Andrius Kubilius, Peter van Dalen, Miriam Lexmann, Loránt Vincze, Krzysztof Hetman, Vladimír Bilčík, Róża Thun und Hohenstein, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, David Lega, Seán Kelly, Romana Tomc, Tomáš Zdechovský, Peter Pollák, Christian Sagartz, Adam Jarubas, Janina Ochojska, José Manuel Fernandes, Paulo Rangel, Stanislav Polčák, Loucas Fourlas, Eva Maydell, Michaela Šojdrová, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Luděk Niedermayer, Jiří Pospíšil on behalf of the PPE Group.

The European Parliament,

1. 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;

2. Deplores the violence that took place during the most recent war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh; expresses solidarity with the victims and their families; deplores the violation of the ceasefire, which led to further human suffering, loss of life and destruction; condemns all attacks targeting civilians and recalls states’ obligation under international humanitarian law to protect civilian lives;

3. Urges the Government of Azerbaijan to provide exhaustive lists of all persons held in its captivity in connection with the armed conflict and to provide information about their whereabouts and health, including of those who have died in captivity;

4. Recalls that failure to disclose information regarding the fate and whereabouts of missing persons may amount to enforced disappearance, which both Azerbaijan and Armenia have committed to preventing; calls on all sides to clarify the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared and to treat dead bodies with dignity;

5. Demands that the Government of Azerbaijan respect legal safeguards, allow access for lawyers, doctors and human rights defenders to the Armenian prisoners and facilitate their communications with relatives;

6. 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;

7. Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that those still in custody are provided with all protections required under international human rights and humanitarian law, including freedom from torture and inhuman treatment; calls on the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to conduct independent, prompt, public and effective investigations and prosecute all credible allegations of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other violations of international law and war crimes, in order to ensure accountability of those responsible and redress for the victims, possibly with the assistance of an international dedicated mission; calls on the Government of Azerbaijan to fully cooperate with the ECtHR to investigate the validity of reports of dehumanising treatment of Armenian prisoners and to hold those responsible to account;

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

9. Reminds all the parties to the conflict of their obligation to respect international humanitarian law, which prohibits torture and other degrading or inhumane treatment, and reiterates that torture and ill-treatment of POWs constitute war crimes;

10. 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;

11. 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;

12. 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;

13. Expresses its belief that a full exchange of prisoners and remains of the deceased and the final settlement of this issue is a humanitarian emergency, especially for the families of those affected, and would be a first, desperately needed trust-building measure to bring rudimentary stability to the region;

14. Calls on the Government of Azerbaijan to guarantee free and unimpeded access to prisoners for relevant international organisations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

15. 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;

16. Strongly insists that both parties refrain from any actions destroying Armenian heritage in Azerbaijan and Azeri heritage in Armenia; calls for the full restoration of demolished sites and for greater involvement of the international community in protecting world heritage in the region;

17. 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;

18. 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;

19. 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;

20. 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;

21. 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;
     22. 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;

23. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the United Nations Secretary-General, the OSCE Secretary-General, the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, the President, Government and Parliament of Armenia and the President, Government and Parliament of Azerbaijan.

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