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| Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:18 am Post subject: [E] Report of Per Gahrton on South Caucasus adopted by EU
|Assembly of Armenians of Europe | PRESS RELEASE | REF: PR/04/02/005
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Report on south Caucasus is adopted by the European parliament
IDPs and refugees should not be used for political aims (new amendment to the Gahrton report)
Brussels, 26/02/2004 - On February 26 the final report of Per Gahrton on South Caucasus has been voted by the European Parliament at the plenary session. The final voting was preceded with a debate on several points related to the report and the South Caucasus. Per Gahrton stressed that “it is an unbiased report, pushing for peace and stability”. The rapporteur mentioned that many events taking place in South Caucasus, such as the establishment of FBI office in Tbilisi, are not covered by the European press and called upon them to be more active since the region is now involved in the EU policy “Wider Europe - New Neighborhood”. The AAE reminds that the scandalous murder of the Armenian officer during the training of NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program has been silenced by the Belgian and in general by French speaking press.
The representatives of different parties, the Commissioner Patten and the EP Industry Committee expressed their opinions and concerns. The MEP Schmidt (ELDR group) expressed his concern about the situation in Azerbaijan: ”Azerbaijan goes to the wrong direction. The situation in the refugee camps is catastrophic”. The EPP group’s representative MEP Stenzel reminded the urgency of lifting the blockade imposed on Armenia by Turkey. On behalf of the PSE group the MEP Volcic said that the best way of solving the on Armenia problems is the step by step basis. He mentioned that Russia has to play an important role in the resolution of the problems. Therefore, this issue must be put on the agenda of the upcoming EU-Russia meeting to be held in March 2004. MEP M. Miquel Mayol i Raynal expressed his concern about the construction of BTC, especially concerning the responsibilities undertaken by Turkey. He noted that the role of EU is to help Turkey to meet the EU standards, but not to break them. Being among the delegation of the European Parliament he was the witness of the Parliamentary crisis in Georgia in December 2003 and he assures that “the Rose Revolution in Georgia did not smell roses, but rather oil. If it does not smell the dollar, just because money does not smell at all”. Coming originally from Catalan (Spain) he expressed his concern that the principle of self determination is not taken into account by the European Parliament. He recalled the conversation of the rapporteur with the president of Nagrono Karabakh, during which the latter expressed readiness of the Nagorno Karabakh to become an autonomous part of Finland. He proposed that Finland should take this mandate. He believes that Finnish temporary mandate could help to find peaceful solution to the conflict of Nagorno Karabakh.
The voting of the final report of MEP Per Gahrton on South Caucasus took place in the afternoon. Political parties made 20 amendments to the Gahrton report, among which the deletion of the indent 37 of Paragraph 1. The indent 37 concerning the return of Azeri IDPs and the withdrawal of Armenian Armed forces from occupied regions of Azerbaijan was omitted from the final version of the report.
Another important amendment (Paragraph 1, Indent 35) concerned the security and well being of the civil population: “…to insist that under no circumstances should the displaced population be used as an argument for political aims and that durable solutions, including integration for those who wish to integrate, should be elaborated and implemented without delay in full co-operation with the international community” (submitted by MEP Frahm, GUE/NGL group, and supported by Cecilia Malmstrom/ELDR group, Per Gahrton/Greens’ Group
). Although this point was not mentioned in the initial version of the report and the first period of the amendments voted in January 2004, the rapporteur and representatives of all political groups agreed on the importance of this issue The AAE reminds that the Council of Europe has already stressed this point in its recommendation 1570 adopted on June 27, 2002. The indent 4 of the above mentioned document states that “under no circumstances should the displaced populations be used as an argument for political aims”. Many international institutions, such as Helsinki Commission, US State Department expressed their concern about the situation of the IDPs and refugees in the region. In his speech the Helsinki Commissioner Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin had stated “the policy of Azerbaijani government of limiting resettlement of IDPs is surprising. By not allowing many Azeri IDPs to relocate outside of IDP camps, thousands are held hostage as political pawns to the stalemate over Nagorno Karabakh” (June 10, 2003). By adopting this amendment the European Parliament proves the perfect coherence of European Institutions and their commitment to the same human values.
Thus, the final report of MEP Per Gahrton reiterates its position set out in its Resolution of June 18 1987 on a political solution to the Armenian question and “calls upon Turkey and Armenia to promote good neighborliness in order to diffuse tension and calls on Turkey and Armenian academics, social organizations and NGOs to embark on a dialogue with each other in order to overcome the tragic experiences of the past”. It calls upon Turkey to lift the trade restrictions and gradually reopen of the land border with Armenia.
The indent 14 (paragraph 1) calls upon the countries of the region “not to block the efforts to bring the three states closer together by demanding a resolution of the Nagorno Kharabakh conflict as a precondition”. In fact, the resolution of the conflict of Nagrono Karabakh is the precondition imposed by Turkey indispensable for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Armenia. One week ago Mr. Heikki Talvitie, EU special representative on South Caucasus confirmed that Azerbaijan exerts some influence on Turkey’s diplomatic relations with Armenia.
The report emphasizes the necessity of involving Russia in the peace process in South Caucasus. It expresses its concern to the Azeri authorities about the human rights situation and media freedom in the country. It recommends “to give consideration to financial support for development of the energy supply system in the region, in particular regard to Armenia and Georgia”.