By Artak Khulian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Armenian civic organizations and legal experts, joined by their exiled colleagues from Nagorno-Karabakh, denounced on Monday, March 18 the Armenian government, for expressing readiness to withdraw international lawsuits filed against Azerbaijan after the 2020 war.

The government has filed four such lawsuits in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and another one in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It accuses Azerbaijan of committing war crimes, violating the rights of Armenian prisoners, occupying Armenian territory and forcibly displacing Karabakh’s population. Baku has likewise taken Yerevan to these international tribunals, alleging various violations of international law.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan suggested last week that it would be “logical” for the two sides to mutually drop these cases if they manage to finalize an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty. Azerbaijani officials have not yet publicly commented on the idea.

Arman Tatoyan

In a joint statement, Armenia’s former human rights defender, Arman Tatoyan, Karabakh’s current and former ombudsmen as well as two Armenian experts on international law described Pashinyan’s statement as “absolutely unacceptable.” They said that ECHR and ICJ verdicts sought by Yerevan are essential for “preventing new Azerbaijani encroachments against the Republic of Armenia,” “investigating crimes committed against the people of Artsakh” and facilitating the Karabakh Armenians’ eventual safe return to their homeland.

Two dozen Armenian civic groups made similar arguments in a separate joint statement which was also signed by groups representing Karabakh refugees in Armenia.

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“We believe that the Azerbaijani authorities, which do not seek peace and neighborliness at all, should not remain unpunished,” said Artak Beglaryan, the former Karabakh ombudsman.

Last November, the ICJ ordered Baku to ensure the security of Karabakh Armenians willing to return to the depopulated region. The United Nations court based in The Hague issued the “interim measure” during an ongoing consideration of the Armenian lawsuit. Beglaryan said that Pashinyan’s government will preclude any possibility of further ICJ action on the repatriation of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population if it withdraws the lawsuit.

Pashinyan’s statement also raised more questions about Armenia’s recent accession to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin a year ago. Yerevan’s stated rationale for accepting the ICC’s jurisdiction was to take more legal action against Azerbaijan and prevent further Azerbaijani attacks on Armenia, rather than to please Western powers.


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