On the incidents along the borderline territories of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Mountainous Karabakh in July-August, 2014
The Armenian National Platform of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum expresses its deep concern with the recent escalation of armed conflict along the borderline of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Mountainous Karabakh in July-August, 2014, which were accompanied with negligence of Humanitarian Law and constitute a serious threat to security and stability throughout the region. Particularly, in the tense situation of the recent months there were gross violations of the norms enshrined in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, consistent with the war crimes provided by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The culmination of these violations was the Azerbaijani army’s inhuman, degrading and cruel treatment against the 33-year-old resident of Chinari village, Tavush region of Armenia, Karen Petrosian who was found in a territory controlled by Azerbaijan on August 7, 2014 under the unknown circumstances and died one day after, in suspicious circumstances. According to Articles 35 and 36, of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Petrosian being a civilian, was entitled to be freely repatriated to Armenia. Azerbaijani side, however, claimed that Petrosian is a saboteur, although according to international law, even saboteurs have the right to humane treatment and fair trial. Petrosian’s dead body is not handed over to his family up to date.
It is especially disturbing that such acts of violence and inhuman treatment are combined with large-scale propaganda campaigns for hatred and war, boosting the image of the enemy and justifying all kind of atrocities against the other party. And the public figures, human rights activists and journalists, who are committed to democracy and the principle of overcoming controversies through dialogue, are subjected to unprecedented pressure.
Viewing the described incident as yet another tragic demonstration of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and recognizing the threat of military action, the Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
Calls the parties to:
- Find a way to the peaceful settlement of the conflict by means of negotiations, based on the European principles of constructive cooperation, tolerance, mutual understanding and trust. Discuss the possibility and conditions of signing a peace agreement, as a milestone within the peace process.
- Until then, strictly prohibit any encroachment on behalf of the armed forces under their command towards civilians and civilian objects; targeting of the population engaged in agricultural activates in borderline territories; as well as to withdraw snipers from the both sides of the contact line.
Urges the parties to:
- Take necessary actions to create opportunity to address the International Fact-Finding Commission, for unbiased investigation of war crime evidences and to hold the perpetrators accountable under the international criminal law;
- Encourage the dialogue of civil society and media representatives as a trust-building exercise. Stop the prosecution of those individuals and organizations who are willing to cooperate and find a basis for a peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict;
- The Republic of Azerbaijan to sign and ratify the Additional Protocols 1 and 2 of the Geneva Conventions, as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
- The Republic of Armenia to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court signed on October 10, 1999.
- Armenia and Azerbaijan have both ratified the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, taking responsibility to adhere all the norms of the International Humanitarian Law during armed conflicts, including: not to bombard the civilian settlements and civilian objects, abide all the norms of treatment of prisoners of war enshrined in the Third Geneva Convention;
- The action of the Human Rights norms enshrined in the international conventions does not stop during the armed conflicts and wars; in addition, the norms of the International Humanitarian Law start acting as well.
- The newly formed European Commission and other EU institutes, urging them to continue their efforts towards the establishment of security guaranties in the South Caucasus and throughout the EaP region, and strengthen the support to OSCE Minsk group, as well as other official, civil and professional initiatives which contribute to peaceful negotiations and dialogue.
- The International Committee of The Red Cross to continue develop the International Humanitarian Law awareness-raising projects for the schools and other educational institutions, as well as for the armed forces’ compounds of the conflicting parties, which would help to raise the awareness on the norms of the International humanitarian law and will prevent the war crimes and the crimes against humanity.
- All the national platforms of EU Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, urging them to join this statement.
September 19, 2014, Yerevan
Armenian National Platform of
EU Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
CSF Armenian National Platform Consecutive Meeting
The consecutive meeting of the Armenian National Platform (ANP) of EaP Civil Society Forum took place on September 23 at Hrazdan Hotel, Yerevan. The meeting was chaired by the ANP National Coordinator Boris Navasardian. The possibility of Armenia’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU) was one of the main topics discussed at the meeting. The participants once again expressed their concern over the scheduled accession of the RA into EaEU in October, and agreed to issue a statement on the ANP’s official position regarding the prospect of membership in EaEU. The text of the position paper will be put on online discussion. ANP members also suggested to organize meetings in different regions of the country in order to raise the awareness in the communities regarding the pros and cons of Armenia’s membership to EaEU.
ANP members also agreed to adopt a statement condemning the prosecution of Shahen Harutyunian- the underage son of the political prisoner Shant Harutyunian.
The second topic discussed at the meeting was the participation of ANP delegation in the upcoming EaP CSF 6th meeting in Batumi, Georgia. Participants discussed some of the topics they would like to bring up at the Forum and agreed to work on these issues in their Working Groups for a proper representation in Forum.
Yerevan Press Club held a seminar titled “Political Developments in Armenia and the Role of the Civil Society”
Yerevan Press Club with the support of Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized a three-day seminar titled “Political Developments in Armenia and the role of the civil society”. The seminar took place in Arturs Resort, Aghveran on September 19-21. 40 representatives of civil society organizations and media took part in the seminar and engaged in discussions around the recent political developments in Armenia and in the overall region, as well as the role of the civil society and media in those developments.
The seminar was opened with a report on the rospects for the EU-Armenian partnership amid the geopolitical developments, delivered by Vahagn Khazarian, an independent expert. Mr. Khazarian elaborated on the formalities associated with accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EaEU) and the potential obstacles that this process can create for the EU-Armenia relations. He also analyzed the possible economic shocks that could come after the accession. The report was followed by a discussion about the economic expediency of RA’s membership to the EaEU.
The second session of the seminar continued the topic of Armenia’s possible accession to the Eurasian Economic Union. Information security expert Tigran Kocharian talked about promised vs. real prospects of RA’s membership to EaEU. Participants of the discussion expressed concerns over the potential political and economic risks that Armenia could face after the accession to EaEU.
The next session was opened Vardine Grigorian’s from Vanadzor Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly, with a report titled “Opposition-Government-Society: Where do the interests meet and where do they diverge”. The report analyzed the perceptions regarding the leading political parties of Armenia among the population and touched upon the reasons undermining the proper political processes and democratic elections in Armenia. The session proceeded with the topic of the constitutional amendments initiated by the government. Hovhannes Galstian, political analyst from “Apella” institute for policy analysis, talked about the potential changes envisaged by the amendments and possible repercussions. The participants expressed their opinions and concerns regarding the political pretext of the amendments.
The third session of the seminar was opened with a report by Gegham Baghdasarian, chief editor of “The Analytikon” journal. Mr. Baghdasarian talked about Karabakh conflict resolution: challenges and possible solutions. He analyzed the recent developments around the peace process and elaborated on some factors undermining democratic process in Karabakh. The well received speech was followed with a Q & A, where the participants asked questions regarding the internal political life in Karabakh and the ongoing peace process.
The seminar was closed with a report by Boris Navasardian, president of Yerevan Press Club, who spoke about the current situation with the media. Mr. Navasardian analyzed the alarming trends of propaganda and partisan coverage of the Ukrainian developments by the Russian media and its influence on public opinion in Armenia. He suggested creation of fact-checking initiatives to contend the aggressive propaganda.
The Eastern Partnership-EU Young Leaders Forum will be held at the European Parliament in Brussels on December 8-11, 2014. The Forum – attended by young leaders from both the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries – consists of several round tables where participants discuss among themselves or with Members of the European Parliament, representatives of other EU Institutions or experts and external guest speakers. The deadline for applicants is 10 October.
Three young leaders aged 20-35 from each of the following countries can participate in the forum: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and six from the EU. Participants may be involved in politics, academia, business or civil society.
“Civil society lies at the heart of the EU’s Eastern Partnership,” said the announcement;“and yet, often the youth have to struggle hard to be recognized as actors of change, to participate in public life and to take forward democratic developments. Hosting Young Leaders from both EU and the EU’s neighbourhood is above all a networking exercise to link them up amongst themselves as well as with some of the EU’s key political players.”
The idea of the Young Leaders Forum came up on the basis of the experience of successful meetings, first held in 2008 with young leaders from the EU’s southern neighbours. The European Parliament then decided to open this programme to participants from both eastern and southern neighbourhood of the EU in 2013. The Forum is meant to take advantage of the European Parliament as an environment where participants can build confidence and trust.
The aim of the forum is to foster mutual understanding and developing converging visions at a stage of the participants’ careers when their responsibilities still allow for unconventional thinking: “it can be considered a modest, although concrete, investment of the European Parliament in the human capital and the leadership of tomorrow – in the EU, but also beyond the EU”.
All costs will be covered by the European Parliament. (EU Neighbourhood Info Centre)
Most Armenians feel the European Union is an important partner for their country, and that relations between the two are good. This is one of the key findings of the recently released Spring 2014 EU Neighbourhood Barometer for Armenia, conducted in the framework of an EU-funded opinion polling project for the Neighbourhood.
However, the survey, based on 1,003 interviews conducted in May-June 2014, finds a further decline in the number of those who see relations as good – 62% in Spring 2014, down four points compared to six months earlier, and 18 points since Spring 2013.
Fifty-eight per cent of Armenians feel the European Union is an important partner (compared to 67% in the ENPI East region), while 56% believe the EU and Armenia have sufficient common values to cooperate (higher than the regional average). However, only 48% (compared to 55% six months earlier) feel the EU brings peace and security in the region, and 44% that EU support contributes a lot to the development of their country (compared to a regional average of 58%).
A relative majority in Armenia has a positive image of the EU (40% against 25% of those who describe the EU image as negative), but with a decrease in the last six months. Less than half of those asked (45% – down from 54% six months earlier) said they trust the EU, less than the level of their trust in the UN (52%), but considerably more than that in NATO (36%).
Armenians questioned in the poll were generally happy about their lives, with 63% satisfied with the life they lead, and the degree of satisfaction rising the younger and more educated respondents were (87% in the 15-24 age group and among those still studying). In spite of this, 87% of respondents said the economic situation was bad, with 46% believing it would get worse in the next 12 months.
The overwhelming majority of those asked (71% against 62% in the EaP region) was not satisfied with the way democracy worked in Armenia.
The EU Neighbourhood Barometer project, funded under the DG Development and Cooperation (EuropeAid) Regional Communication Programme, conducts opinion polls and monitors the media in the 16 partner countries and territories participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy, plus Russia. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
EU Neighbourhood Barometer report – Armenia