The parliament of the European Union yesterday (20 May) voted to adopt a resolution demanding the “immediate and unconditional release” of all Armenians currently in Azerbaijani detention. The resolution also acknowledges that all sides should provide up-to-date maps of minefields to permit civilians to return to the former conflict regions – an ongoing demand of the Azerbaijani government. The vote passed with an overwhelming majority – 607 for, 27 against, and 54 abstentions.
Alongside noting that there is currently no publicly available credible information provided by the Azerbaijani government about those held in its custody, the resolution “Expresses its grave concern about credible reports, according to which Armenian prisoners of war and other captive persons have been and are being held in degrading conditions, and that they have been subjected to inhuman treatment and torture when captured or during their detention”. Amongst other things, it reminds the sides of their obligation to follow international law; demands that the government of Azerbaijan respect legal safeguards, and allow lawyers, doctors, and human rights defenders access to the prisoners; calls on Azerbaijan to fully co-operate with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR); and foremost demands “the immediate and unconditional release of all Armenian prisoners, both military and civilian, detained during and after the conflict”.
The resolution also deplores the so-called Trophy Park in Baku, stating that it “may be perceived as a glorification of violence and risks inciting further hostile sentiment, hate speech or even inhumane treatment of remaining POWs and other Armenian captive civilians, thereby perpetuating the atmosphere of hatred and contradicting any official statements on reconciliation”. It urges that the park is closed without delay.
In relation to the peace process, the adopted resolution:
"Recalls the efforts of the international community spearheaded by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group to find a peaceful, lasting, comprehensive and sustainable solution on the basis of the OSCE 2009 Basic Principles (Non-Use of Force, Territorial Integrity, and the Equal Rights and Self-Determination of Peoples) with the objective of determining the future status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region; recalls that this can only be achieved through a negotiated political solution with genuine commitment from all concerned parties; calls on the parties to resume high-level political dialogue at the earliest opportunity, under the auspices of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group; calls on the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments, as well as international mediators, to systematically include women in the peace process and consult with women human rights defenders"
It expresses regret that "the EU Member States participating in the OSCE Minsk Group were not present when the ceasefire agreement was brokered, and that the EU did not demonstrate leadership in bringing two of its highly valued Eastern Partners to the negotiating table".
The full text of the resolution is available here.