Statements by Yerevan Legitimise Azerbaijan Territorial Claims, Warns Tatoyan

By Asbarez | Friday, 04 February 2022

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan on Friday warned that certain statements made by government officials in Yerevan legitimize the illegal actions by Azerbaijan’s authorities and their territorial claims from Armenia.

Tatoyan sounded the alarm again on Friday during a press conference where he once again pointed to Yerevan’s position of the demarcation and delimitation of borders with Azerbaijan, whereby border troops from both countries would withdraw simultaneously and be replaced by peacekeepers who will guard the borders until the process is complete.

Tatoyan believes that the real issue that is not being discussed is the fact that Azerbaijani forces have set up positions within Armenia proper, posing a grave risk to the lives of the population living in border settlements.

He again emphasized the need for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops and the creation of a demilitarized zone to ensure the rights of residents until the end of the process of determining the border.

“The Azerbaijani military not only has settled on the territories belonging to the villagers by law, but also made their daily life impossible,” Tatoyan said.

He argued that residents who live in the border areas have documents proving their residency and property ownership from the Soviet authorities dating back decades.

Saying that his proposal for creating a demilitarized zone has been supported by European structures, especially the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which last fall adopted a resolution to this end. However, he said, there is a prevailing opinion among Armenia’s authorities that such an approach is unrealistic.

“We [Armenia] are doing everything to legitimize the presence of Azerbaijani military and then we turn around and say that it [a demilitarized zone] is unrealistic,” said Tatoyan.

“When the Goris-Kapan and Kapan-Chakaten roads were blocked, instead of immediately going to the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights]—not to mention other bodies—we began to state on an official level that these were Azerbaijani territories, that security was observed and everything was okay,” Tatoyan explained citing a military standoff on the Goris-Kapan highway last fall.

He said that instead of taking proactive steps to engage European and other international bodies, the government began praising the alternate roads and concealing the realities on the ground from international structures.

Tatoyan stressed that the current policy being driven by Armenia’s authorities “is going in the wrong direction.”

“General statements are being made without specifying the facts of human rights violations,” Tatoyan added, explaining that such statements from Armenia have created serious problems and are legitimizing the illegal actions of the Azerbaijani authorities.

Tatoyan said that international players are using the government’s posturing to not act, saying instead that Armenia has already accepted those territories as belonging to Azerbaijan.

“There is ample ground, including documents from the Soviet times, to remove Azerbaijani military from the territories directly adjacent to the Armenian villages. The process cannot be implemented at the expense of the rights of our citizens,” Tatoyan emphasized, saying that so much is being said about maps. He pointed out, however, that while there are different maps, on which the demarcation process can be based, but the human toll of it “should not be guided by maps.”

“Take the situation in the village of Shurnukh, through which the line of contact runs,” said Tatoyan, referring to the village near Goris in Armenia’s Syunik Province. “Can the rights of children be ensured in such a militarized zone, where the Armed Forces of three countries are stationed?”