At the rally in Granada (photo Arman Yeghiazaryan)

By Diran Guiliguian

MADRID — The Armenian community in Spain joined the Europeans for Artsakh initiative, comprised of representatives of the Armenian communities from across Europe and over 500 European associations, to organize a rally in support of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and its indigenous Armenian population. The rally took place on October 5 at noon at Plaza de las Pasiegas, in front of the famous Cathedral of Granada, in Granada, Spain. It drew the attention of many mainstream media representatives, who listened to the demands of the Spanish-Armenian community.

At the rally in Granada (photo Arman Yeghiazaryan)

This protest was the concluding act of a series of more than 20 protests across Europe over the past week as it took place during the third summit of the European Political Community in Granada, gathering 46 European heads of state. This summit initially included a meeting between the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. However, the latter pulled out on the eve of the meeting since his ally, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan could not attend. Instead, Pashinyan met with President of the European Council Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Around a hundred members of the small Armenian community of Spain gathered from all around the country near the Palacio de Congresos where the summit was taking place. They chanted and held up slogans such as “Sanction Azerbaijan,” “Aliyev = Murderer” and “Buying gas from Azerbaijan = Complicity in Genocide.” They came from Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Malaga, Sevilla, and Granada to show their support to the people of Artsakh and make their voice heard by European leaders.

At the rally in Granada (photo Arman Yeghiazaryan)

Participants of the pan-European rally condemned Azerbaijan’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Artsakh and condemned Azerbaijan and the Russian peacekeepers for not fulfilling their obligations under the Trilateral Statement of November 2020, including ensuring the safety of the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh. They urged the EU to put effective pressure on Azerbaijan to stop violating the Trilateral Statement of 9 November 2020 and ensure safe, unhindered movement of all Artsakh Armenians as well as goods, cargo through the Lachin Corridor. They demanded that the EU impose targeted sanctions against the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan for the policy of ethnic cleansing towards the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh and for the forced deportation of the latter.

The demonstrators denounced the EU’s continued political support for the so-called “integration” of Artsakh into Azerbaijan, despite the obvious prospect that that this means exodus of the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh from their homeland of more than 3000 years or their subjugation in a dictatorship under highly perilous conditions.

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They demanded immediate accountability against all those officials who have been supporting Azerbaijan’s policy of the “integration” of Artsakh into Azerbaijan, as this has aided and abetted Azerbaijan’s genocidal policy against the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh. They also demanded that the Azerbaijani military immediately halt the occupation and the siege of all Armenian cities, towns and villages of Artsakh, remove its military presence from Artsakh and adhere to its obligations under the Trilateral Statement of November 2020.

The demonstrators stated that they require that Azerbaijan immediately and unconditionally releases all Armenian captives, prisoners of war and be held accountable for war crimes and human rights violations it committed during and after the 2020 war. They also called for the recognition of the right to self-determination of the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh, as an existential matter in the face of Azerbaijan’s ongoing policy of ethnic cleansing and something which equals to nothing less than their right to life.

(Diran Guiliguian is founder and chair of AGBU Young Professionnals, Madrid.)

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