I understand that this phrase has already set the teeth on edge as a hackneyed journalistic cliché, but it is simply impossible to evaluate her statements otherwise.
“I am extremely concerned about the serious humanitarian and human rights situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and my thoughts go to the residents who are bearing the brunt of this situation. I strongly reiterate my previous calls to restore free movement along the Lachin corridor. I draw attention to the provisional measures indicated by the European Court of Human Rights in relation to the Lachin corridor seven months ago,” Pejčinović-Buric says without any evidence of the “gravity of the situation”.
In order to show her alleged “objectivity”, this lady calls on both sides “to a genuine dialogue in order to quickly ensure free and safe passage through the Lachin corridor”.
“This dialogue,” she says, “should also lead to a reduction in tension and the restoration of peace, including in accordance with the obligations assumed by Armenia and Azerbaijan when joining the Council of Europe more than 23 years ago,” the CoE Secretary General emphasized.
It is worth, however, to look into the circumstances of the career of this politician. Pejčinović-Buric graduated from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Zagreb. In 1994, she received a master’s degree from the College of Europe. That is, she is not a lawyer by profession, and purely hypothetically, it can be assumed that she is not familiar with what is written in the decision of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the Lachin Corridor. In reality, however, such a probability is very small – the Secretary General of the Council of Europe not only has the opportunity but is even obliged to consult with the legal department of her structure before voicing such statements.
In any case, let me remind you that the decision of the European Court of Human Rights did not use the word “blockade”. Nor is it in the ruling of the International Court of Human Rights. None of these documents says anything about “freedom of movement” in the sense that Maria Pejcinovic-Buric is trying to give to this phrase. She apparently means freedom of movement from one state to another. But has Azerbaijan blocked the road for the Armenians of Karabakh?
I am also forced to mention that after the installation of the Lachin border checkpoint by Azerbaijan, Armenia repeatedly applied to international courts, demanding that the actions of Azerbaijan be recognised as illegal. But the International Court of Justice rejected this claim. And this is absolutely fair since the creation of a border checkpoint is the sovereign right of each state on its border. All this can be confirmed to the CE Secretary General by lawyers.
And EU Council President Charles Michel, in turn, can explain to her that Azerbaijan has officially proposed using the Aghdam road to deliver food and humanitarian aid to Armenians living in the Karabakh economic region. It was voiced at a meeting in Brussels, and Charles Michel readily approved this initiative. But what happened next?
Armenia refused the reasonable, and in all respects, objective proposal of Azerbaijan. Moreover, the top of the gangs in Karabakh did not limit themselves to words – on their orders, the road in the Aghdam-Askaran section was blocked with concrete slabs. Would those who actually exist in a “grave humanitarian situation” do so? Of course, no. It is unlikely that the CE Secretary General will deny this obvious truth.
As for her thoughts “addressed to the Armenians” living in the Karabakh economic region of Azerbaijan, then it needs to be clarified that they are holders of passports of either the unrecognized “Artsakh” or Armenia. Ethnic Azerbaijanis, full citizens of our country, have only recently begun to return to their native Karabakh. And in the “blocked”, according to Pejčinović-Buric, Khankandi, they are not yet there. But she doesn’t see this.
The Secretary General of the Council of Europe practically ignores the rights of Azerbaijanis forcibly expelled from Armenia. There are no Azerbaijanis in the “land of stones”! This is the result of ethnic cleansing, sanctioned by the authorities of this country. For some reason, the thoughts of the European official bypass the Azerbaijanis, whose lands have been under Armenian occupation for more than a quarter of a century. And in many respects, this was due to the double morality of people like Maria Pejcinovic-Buric.
She, you see, remembered that Azerbaijan and Armenia joined the Council of Europe 23 years ago. But she does not specify that both countries entered the organization within their internationally recognized borders. More specifically, Azerbaijan joined the CE along with all the territories that had to be conquered during the 44-day war, because Armenia, even being in this supposedly authoritative European structure, continued to occupy our lands. And the Council of Europe, for some reason, did not oppose the admission of the aggressor country into its ranks. That is, everything happened with the tacit consent of Strasbourg.
No sanctions have ever been imposed against the Republic of Armenia, although it has committed a huge number of crimes against Azerbaijan and its people. Over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons, an act of genocide was committed against the peaceful Azerbaijani population in Khojaly, ecocide, and urbicide took place, and Aghdam and many other settlements of our country were turned into ruins. But all this was not enough to impose sanctions on the occupying state of Armenia.
Now the Secretary General of the Council of Europe is trying to blame Azerbaijan for something, part of which is not actually controlled by official Baku, but is still in the hands of the Karabakh separatists. In other words, Pejcinovic-Buric supports separatism in every possible way and shows disrespect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. But she cares about the interests of Armenia, which finances the Karabakh separatists from its state budget.
If this is the position of the head of the Council of Europe, then, perhaps, we can say that Europe itself is rapidly losing its so zealously declared democratic values based on the observance of international law, the most important norm of which is the principle of the territorial integrity of states, openly violated by the Karabakh separatists and their patrons.
By the way, about the patrons of the Karabakh separatists. One of the main provocateurs of the situation in Khankandi was the Russian-Armenian oligarch Ruben Vardanyan. The one whom the Peacemaker Center accuses of committing deliberate acts against the national security of Ukraine, peace, the security of mankind, and international law and order, as well as other offenses.
The government of Ukraine imposed sanctions against Vardanyan back in October 2022. War criminal Igor Strelkov (Girkin), now detained in the Russian Federation, who led sabotage operations in Donbas in 2014, told a lot of interesting things about him. According to him, Vardanyan is one of the sponsors of the former head of the “Donetsk People’s Republic”, and now a parliamentarian of the State Duma of Russia, Aleksandr Boroday, one of the Ukrainian collaborators responsible for inciting separatism in Donbas and the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
That’s who the Secretary General of the Council of Europe supports! The one that actively supports Ukraine. You will agree that the picture is striking: Pejcinovic-Buric supports both Ukraine, which is suffering from occupation and separatism and the Karabakh separatists, whom Vardanyan, who is guilty of instigating a war in Donbas, is trying to steer! And somehow it looks completely immoral that she is on the side not of Azerbaijan, which, like Ukraine, is a victim of occupation, but of Armenia, an outright occupier. This is the notorious double standard in all breadth and heights. And there can be no respect for those who preach them. Regardless of their European status.
P. S. By the way, Maria Pejcinovic-Buric, being a Croatian, probably remembers the war in Croatia in 1991-1995, when the Serbian population of the republic tried to create their own state on its territory. This was regarded by Zagreb as an attempt to include the territories of Croatia into Serbia. If the separatists in Karabakh are so sweet to Mrs. Pejcinovic-Buric, then let her publicly condemn the Patriotic War of her people against separatism…