Protests outside parliament in Yerevan

By Nairi Nalbandian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Two members of Azerbaijan’s parliament faced angry protests in Yerevan on February 22 as they attended a meeting of lawmakers from the European Union and ex-Soviet states involved in the EU’s Eastern Partnership program.

They were the first Azerbaijani officials to visit Armenia since the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh. One of them, Tair Mirkishili, was among several senior members of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly received by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday.

Speaking at a Euronest session held the following day, Mirkishili repeated Baku’s claims that the Azerbaijani victory in the six-week war put an end to the Karabakh conflict.

“Since the conflict is over, Azerbaijan has expressed readiness for a demarcation and delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” he said. ”I am glad to note that we have received a number of positive signals from Armenia in this regard.”

Armenian members of Euronest representing the ruling Civil Contract party insisted that the conflict remains unresolved.

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“You cannot consider the conflict to have been resolved… without eliminating its causes,” one of them, Arman Yeghoyan, said. “And the causes are still there. Moreover, they have deepened further. Azerbaijan’s Armenophobic policy is getting stronger and stronger. “

Yeghoyan’s remarks seemed to contrast with Pashinyan’s repeated statements to the effect that transport links with Azerbaijan and Turkey will significantly benefit the Armenian economy and help to usher in an “era of peaceful development” in the region.

According to Panorama, opposition lawmaker Artur Ghazinyan told the Azerbaijani delegation to tell their President, Ilham Aliyev, that Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) has always been and will continue being Armenian in the future too.

“Turkey, Azerbaijan, with the involvement of international terrorists from the Middle East, have committed many crimes against humanity in Artsakh and Armenia and have not been punished so far. No European sanctions have been imposed on them,” the MP said.

As the Euronest session began its work at a conference hall in Yerevan hundreds of angry people rallied outside it protest against the arrival of the Azerbaijani parliamentarians. The protesters said their visit is an affront to the memory of at least 3,800 Armenians killed in the 2020 war.

Mutual visits by Armenian and Azerbaijani officials and other citizens of the two warring nations are extremely rare. They usually take place within the framework of multilateral events. Baku minimized such contacts in the early 2000s.


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