Artsakhpress

Interview

The Azerbaijani side continues to consider the issue of refugees exclusively in the context of obtaining political dividends. Sarasar Saryan

Recently, the Azerbaijani side has stated on a number of occasions that if Artsakh returns to the negotiating table, the "Azerbaijani community of Nagorno- Karabakh" NGO should also participate in the negotiations. On this statement and the issue of refugees and displaced persons actively being raised by Azerbaijan, “Artsakhpress” had an interview with Head of the “NKR Organization of Refugees” NGO Sarasar Saryan.

The Azerbaijani side continues to consider the issue of refugees exclusively in the context of obtaining political dividends. Sarasar Saryan

The Azerbaijani side continues to consider the issue of refugees exclusively in the context of
obtaining political dividends. Sarasar Saryan
STEPANAKERT,  FEBRUARY 1, ARTSAKHPRESS: The interview is fully presented below:
-Mr. Saryan, for many years now Azerbaijan has been actively raisingthe issue of refugees and displaced persons. What is the position of your organization on this matter?
The refugee problem is one of the most difficult issues facing the process of negotiating a peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict. It is intertwined with both the political and the humanitarian aspects of a resolution. Unfortunately, the Azerbaijani side continues to consider the issue of refugees exclusively in the context of obtaining political dividends to the detriment of the peace process. The approach of the Azerbaijani side violates a fundamental principle, namely the principle of equality of people. On the one hand, the Azerbaijani authorities constantly appeal to the problem of refugees. On the other hand, by preventing specialized international organizations from visiting Artsakh, they continue to violate the rights of Armenian refugees living in Artsakh, depriving them of access to international assistance and protection.
It should also be noted that at the time, the government of then Soviet Armenia unilaterally paid 14,500 Azerbaijani families a total of 70 million rubles (about 110 million US dollars) for the properties left behind. The Azerbaijani government did not pay any compensation to the Armenian refugees.
The entire policy of Azerbaijan, not only on the issue of refugees, but also in the context of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict as a whole, is based on the denial of the fundamental rights of the people living in Artsakh.
-Do you meet with representatives of Azerbaijani organizations involved in, inter alia, refugee issues?
As part of civil peace initiatives, we have met several times with representatives of Azerbaijani civil society, including members of an organization that speaks on behalf of Azerbaijani refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh. The main topic of discussion was the need to establish bridges of trust between the societies of all three parties. Our position on this issue remains unchanged. We are open to such a dialogue and are willing to contribute to the creation of an atmosphere of trust, and to share our experience, in particular on the integration of refugees at their current place of residence. The quick and painless integration of Armenian refugees is one of the notable achievements of Artsakh society. I believe this experience could also be useful for Azerbaijanis.
In my opinion, one of the cornerstones of resolving the refugee issue is the principle of reciprocity. However, it is obvious that Armenian refugees will not be able to return to Azerbaijan, a country where intolerance toward Armenians has been made into state policy. No international structure can guarantee that, in the event of the return of nearly half a million Armenian refugees to Azerbaijan, they will not be subjected to massacres and deportations again. Given the fact that the return of refugees is extremely unrealistic, the integration of refugees and displaced persons, both Armenian and Azerbaijani, at their current place of residence seems to be the most optimal way to solve this problem.
-Recently, the Azerbaijani side has stated on a number of occasions that if Artsakh returns to the negotiating table, the "Azerbaijani community of Nagorno- Karabakh" NGO should also participate in the negotiations. What do you think of such statements?
The attempt to put on the same level the popularly elected authorities of the Artsakh Republic and the non-governmental organization of Azerbaijani refugees from Nagorno- Karabakh is a vivid example of a political manipulation on the part of Azerbaijan. In the CSCE/OSCE documents adopted in 1992-1995, Nagorno-Karabakh was recognized as the third full party to the conflict. This fact was accepted by Azerbaijan itself, which during the same period, signed a series of bilateral and trilateral agreements with Artsakh.
The conflict resolution process is usually carried out on two planes: formal negotiations between the elected authorities of the parties to the conflict and dialogue of representatives of civil society. These two components of a single process should complement and not replace each other. It is obvious that at the official level, the interests of the entire Azerbaijani society, including the aforementioned Azerbaijani NGO, are represented by the authorities of Azerbaijan, in the election of which Azerbaijani refugees also take part. The assertion that the various segments of the Azerbaijani society should be represented in the negotiations as a separate delegation is devoid of any basis and contradicts the logic of the negotiation process. At the same time, taking into account the fact that the citizens of Artsakh do not participate in the electoral processes in Armenia, but form their own government through democratic elections, then it is the elected authorities of Artsakh who should represent their interests in the negotiations.

     

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