Mar 172016
 

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), established by the Council of Europe, is an independent human rights monitoring body specialised in questions relating to racism and intolerance. It is composed of independent and impartial members appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognised expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

In the framework of its statutory activities, ECRI conducts country monitoring work, which analyses the situation in each of the member States regarding racism and intolerance and draws up suggestions and proposals for dealing with the problems identified.

Here is what the 2016 ERCI report on Azerbaijan says about recurrent hate speech towards Armenians:

25. Other sources confirm recurrent hate speech towards Armenians, which is connected with the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the frequent ceasefire violations at the contact line and the resulting deaths and injuries. The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ACFC) for example noted “a persistent public narrative surrounding the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh identifying [in]variably Armenia or Armenians as ‘the enemy’ and openly promulgating hate messages”. According to other sources, there is a conflict-ridden domestic political discourse and Azerbaijan’s leadership, education system and media are very prolific in their denigration of Armenians. Political opponents are accused of having Armenian roots or of receiving funds from Armenian sources. An entire generation of Azerbaijanis has now grown up listening to constant rhetoric of Armenian aggression. According to a 2012 survey, 91% perceived Armenia as Azerbaijan’s greatest enemy. As a result, the Armenians living in the country need to hide their ethnic affiliation and there is no organisation of the Armenian minority in the country with which ECRI’s delegation could have met. The human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus, who worked inter alia towards reconciliation with Armenia, have been arrested and sentenced under controversial accusations to heavy prison terms. Both were conditionally released at the end of 2015.

[…]

38. ECRI has not received any official information about violent hate crime based on ethnic affiliation committed in Azerbaijan in the last five years, but, given the ongoing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, ECRI is concerned that the on-going waves of hate speech create a risk of violence. In this connection ECRI expressed, in a press release of 4 September 2012, its consternation at the pardoning and release of Ramil Safarov, shortly after he had been transferred from Hungary to Azerbaijan in order to serve there a sentence of life imprisonment imposed by a Budapest court for the murder of an Armenian army officer in 2004. Moreover, Ramil Safarov was promoted to the rank of major, given a flat and the pay he had lost since his arrest in Hungary. In its press release, ECRI pointed out the risk that such action could cultivate a sense of impunity for the perpetrators of racist crimes of the most serious nature.


File: 2016 ERCI Report on Azerbaijan
Source: Publications, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Jun 182013
 

ENNISKILLEN, United Kingdom, 18 June 2013 – Joint Statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict by Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, and Franсois Hollande, President of the French Republic.

We, the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries – France, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America – remain committed to helping the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict reach a lasting and peaceful settlement.  We express our deep regret that, rather than trying to find a solution based upon mutual interests, the parties have continued to seek one-sided advantage in the negotiation process.

We continue to firmly believe that the elements outlined in the statements of our countries over the last four years must be the foundation of any fair and lasting settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.  These elements should be seen as an integrated whole, as any attempt to select some elements over others would make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution.

We reiterate that only a negotiated settlement can lead to peace, stability, and reconciliation, opening opportunities for regional development and cooperation.  The use of military force that has already created the current situation of confrontation and instability will not resolve the conflict.  A renewal of hostilities would be disastrous for the population of the region, resulting in loss of life, more destruction, additional refugees, and enormous financial costs.  We strongly urge the leaders of all the sides to recommit to the Helsinki principles, particularly those relating to the non-use of force or the threat of force, territorial integrity, and equal rights and self-determination of peoples.  We also appeal to them to refrain from any actions or rhetoric that could raise tension in the region and lead to escalation of the conflict.  The leaders should prepare their people for peace, not war.

Our countries stand ready to assist the sides, but the responsibility for putting an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains with them.  We strongly believe that further delay in reaching a balanced agreement on the framework for a comprehensive peace is unacceptable, and urge the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to focus with renewed energy on the issues that remain unresolved.


Source: OSCE Minsk Group page

Dec 062012
 

DUBLIN, 6 December 2012 – Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Minister Delegate for European Affairs of France Bernard Cazeneuve issued the following statement today:

“On the occasion of the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting in Dublin, we, the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, call upon the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to demonstrate the political will needed to reach a peaceful settlement. As our Presidents stated at Los Cabos on June 18, 2012, the parties should be guided by the Helsinki principles, particularly those relating to the non-use of force or the threat of force, territorial integrity, and equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and the elements outlined in our countries’ statements at L’Aquila in 2009 and Muskoka in 2010. Recalling the statement of our Presidents at Deauville in 2011, we again urge the parties to take decisive steps to reach a peaceful settlement.

“We regret that the expectations of more rapid progress in the peace process, which were raised by the Joint Statement of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the President of the Russian Federation at Sochi on January 23, 2012, were not met. Instead, the parties have too often sought one-sided advantage in the negotiation process, rather than seeking to find agreement, based upon mutual understanding. While recognizing the decrease in serious incidents along the Line of Contact and the border in recent months, we remind the parties of the need to continue to respect the ceasefire of 1994, and that the use of military force will not resolve the conflict. We urge the parties to refrain from actions and statements that foster feelings of enmity among their populations and have raised tensions in recent months. The leaders of the sides must prepare their populations for the day when they will live again as neighbors, not enemies, with full respect for each other’s culture, history, and traditions.

“We call upon the parties to demonstrate a greater sense of urgency in the peace process and to work with the Co-Chairs to give full and careful consideration to ideas presented by the Co-Chairs during their trip to the region in November. We welcome the readiness of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia to meet jointly with the Co-Chairs early in 2013 to continue these discussions. Our countries continue to stand ready to do whatever we can to assist the parties, but the responsibility for putting an end to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains with them.”


Source: OSCE Minsk Group page

Aug 312012
 

Press Statement
Patrick Ventrell
Acting Deputy Spokesperson, Office of Press Relations
Washington, DC
August 31, 2012


The United States is extremely troubled by the news that the President of Azerbaijan pardoned Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov, who returned to Baku today following his transfer from Hungary. Mr. Safarov had been serving a life sentence in a Hungarian jail for murdering Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan during a 2004 NATO training event in Budapest.

We are expressing our deep concern to Azerbaijan regarding this action and seeking an explanation. We are also seeking further details from Hungary regarding the decision to transfer Mr. Safarov to Azerbaijan.

We condemn any action that fuels regional tensions.


Source: U.S. Department of State

May 262011
 

We, the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group’s Co-Chair countries — France, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America — are convinced the time has arrived for all the sides to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to take a decisive step towards a peaceful settlement.

We reiterate that only a negotiated settlement can lead to peace, stability, and reconciliation, opening opportunities for regional development and cooperation. The use of force created the current situation of confrontation and instability. Its use again would only bring more suffering and devastation, and would be condemned by the international community. We strongly urge the leaders of the sides to prepare their populations for peace, not war.

As a result of efforts by the parties and the Co-Chair countries at all levels, significant progress has been made. The latest version of the Basic Principles, as discussed in Sochi on March 5, lays a just and balanced foundation for the drafting of a comprehensive peace settlement. This document, based on the Helsinki Final Act and elements outlined in our joint declarations in L’Aquila in July 2009 and Muskoka in June 2010, provides a way for all sides to move beyond the unacceptable status quo.

We therefore call upon the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to demonstrate their political will by finalizing the Basic Principles during their upcoming summit in June. Further delay would only call into question the commitment of the sides to reach an agreement. Once an agreement has been reached, we stand ready to witness the formal acceptance of these Principles, to assist in the drafting of the peace agreement, and then to support its implementation with our international partners.


Source: OSCE Minsk Group page

Mar 312011
 

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) was established by the Council of Europe. It is an independent human rights monitoring body specialised in questions relating to racism and intolerance. It is composed of independent and impartial members, who are appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognised expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

In the framework of its statutory activities, ECRI conducts country-by-country monitoring work, which analyses the situation in each of the member States regarding racism and intolerance and draws up suggestions and proposals for dealing with the problems identified.

Here is what the 2011 ERCI report on Azerbaijan says about discrimination against persons of Armenian origin:

98. As mentioned in other parts of this report, persons of Armenian origin are at risk of being discriminated against in their daily lives. Certain people born of mixed Armenian-Azerbaijani marriages choose to use the name of their Azerbaijani parent so as to avoid problems in their contacts with officialdom; others who did not immediately apply for Azerbaijani identity documents when the former Soviet passports were done away with today encounter difficulties in obtaining identity papers. These problems and the prejudice reigning within society with regard to Armenians also cause serious difficulties of access to social rights.

99. ECRI is still deeply concerned about the fact that the constant negative official and media discourse concerning the Republic of Armenia helps to sustain a negative climate of opinion regarding people of Armenian origin coming under the Azerbaijani authorities’ jurisdiction. This prejudice is so ingrained that describing someone as an Armenian in the media is considered by some people – including by certain Armenians themselves – to qualify as an insult that justifies initiating judicial proceedings against the persons making such statements. ECRI underlines the seriousness of this situation, where it seems that persons belonging to the group discriminated against in this way may themselves have interiorised this discriminatory attitude.

100. ECRI is moreover puzzled by the contradictory information it has received as to the number of persons of Armenian origin currently living in Azerbaijan. On the basis of the previous census, 120 700 Armenians were living in Azerbaijan in 1999. The authorities have indicated that the number of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh or the areas affected by the conflict over it could be estimated at about 120 000, in line with the results of the last census carried out in the region during the Soviet era. Outside those areas, 700 people declared themselves as being of Armenian origin. In view of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the areas affected by the conflict over it, it was again not possible to count the real number of Armenians living in this part of the country during the census carried out in 2009; the estimated figure of 120 000 will accordingly be deemed still current for these areas and only the figure of 700, corresponding to the number of persons actually counted in the remainder of Azerbaijani territory, is likely to change. ECRI points out that these explanations, albeit clear, differ strikingly from the figure of 30 000 Armenians living in the parts of Azerbaijan under the Azerbaijani authorities’ effective control, which is regularly cited by the authorities. ECRI considers that questions can be raised as to the reasons why less than 3% of those concerned are prepared officially to declare themselves as belonging to this group. Thought should be given, inter alia, to the measures that might be taken to eliminate the prejudices and stereotyping existing within the majority population that can give rise to discriminatory attitudes towards persons of Armenian origin.

101. ECRI refers to the recommendations made in other parts of this report concerning the need to adopt an appropriate response to all cases of discrimination and hate speech against Armenians, and to its recommendations concerning the application of the relevant legal provisions. It considers that the Azerbaijani authorities should actively contribute to generating a climate where all persons of Armenian origin living in Azerbaijan can declare their ethnic origin without fear.


File: 2011 ERCI Report on Azerbaijan
Source: Publications, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)