PACE summer session chaired by Hungary has started in Strasbourg. One of the main topics is the issue of equality and protection of women. PACE presidency also referred to the election of the Armenian Parliament. The EPP President welcomed the government’s move to go to the polls and its democratic nature. The issue of the return of prisoners of war is of special importance in the agenda of the Armenian delegation. The Azerbaijani delegate considers PACE calls for the return of prisoners to be unfair, referring to the release of 15 prisoners of war in June.
“Thank you for referring to our election. In very difficult times, my people were able to go to the polls wisely to elect a government. I am glad that democracy in Armenia has won. We will continue our democratic path, despite all the difficulties caused by the aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
I want to thank you for discussing the Armenian prisoners of war in April. This created a basis for us to put some international pressure on Azerbaijan and start a dialogue demanding the release of the captives. Mr. Saidov rightly mentioned that the international community strongly supported this issue. But he forgot two circumstances. The report should mention that on May 12, the Azerbaijani armed forces invaded the sovereign territory of Armenia, that is, the calls are not pushed back. All international observers called for the withdrawal, but they did not. This step does not contribute to peace. I want to emphasize another thing. Azerbaijan has long denied the existence of captives, now we see that there are detainees. The latest rather provocative move, Erdogan’s and Aliyev’s visit showed that they were talking about the captives as if they were betting. I want us to remain human. It will help the region gain some confidence in achieving peace,” said Sos Avetisyan, Member of the Armenia’s Delegation to PACE.
Armenia has chosen the path of democracy and this is a fact. Whatever it means for any of us, but it is important for us that only our people can chose how to get out from the crisis in our country, said Tatevik Hayrapetyan, Parliament deputy, member of PACE Armenian delegation at PACE session.
“Now I want to get back to the issue of prisoners of war. And I want to literally bring to your attention the conversation which took place about a week ago between Ilham Aliyev and Erdogan’s wife - Emine khanum (Erdoğan).
So on their way to occupied Shushi she asks Mr. Aliyev: “Are there many Armenian prisoners of war in Baku?” And he happily answers: “Yes, yes, there are so many prisoners of war.” And she says laughing: “Oh, so good, so return them in small portions.” This is literally what they said. The video is in YouTube, you can see it.
And are these countries – Azerbaijan and Turkey members of Council of Europe? And their leaders behave like that. This not only contradicts the logics of international law, but this is also insane, inhuman. And every time we come here, the families of prisoners of war ask us what Europe is doing, what you are doing when you go there.
We say, they discuss it, they judge, they condemn, and as a result we have a “very little portions of prisoners of war.” And there are so many people, hundreds of people, and the families are suffering. It has been more than half a year the ceasefire statement was signed, and Armenia has done its part of the deal, it is Azerbaijan which refuses. And they say, you know, we returned 15 prisoners of war. Oh, thank you very much. But I want to remind you that it is your duty to immediately return all the prisoners of war, which you have to do according to the November 9 trilateral ceasefire statement.
And I want to say, that peace is not simply a beautiful word, we value peace more than anyone else in the world, because we how it is to be in a war, how it is lose the beloved ones. But peace means actions, peace means hard work. And Azerbaijani way of peace is to enter the sovereign territory of Armenia, is to keep Armenian prisoners of war as hostages, is to dehumanize Armenian people on state level, and then to come to this hemicycle and beautifully talk about peace.
Dear Azerbaijani colleagues, if you really want peace, go back to your home country and make your dictator Aliyev act in accordance of the international law, return the Armenian prisoners of war, and get out of Armenia’s sovereign territory. We do not want war; no one wants war. But if you want peace, you need to act. Thank you,” Hayrapetyan said.