by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
BERLIN, DECEMBER 10, 2020 — On November 25, the French Senate voted almost unanimously to recognize Artsakh, as reported in the Mirror-Spectator. The following day, the Central Council of Armenians in Germany (ZAD) issued a press release, thanking the French Senators for their action, and calling upon Germany’s Bundestag (Parliament) to follow suit, and demand recognition on the part of the federal government.
The ZAD presents its case in three parts.
First, the trilateral declaration by Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan — “in fact a capitulation on the Armenian side” — though ending the fighting, has not eliminated the danger for Armenians. “The status of Nagorno-Karabakh remains unclear,” which leaves open the option for Azerbaijan to move militarily against Armenians living there. Azerbaijan can reignite the war, since no peace agreement has been reached. Furthermore, with the reduction of the Lachin corridor to 5 km, defense of the region becomes impossible. Even with Russian troops stationed, there are no long-term guarantees for security of the Armenian population.
Thus the ZAD sees “the soonest possible regulation of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh” as the only means to guarantee this security. “In light of the aggression by Azerbaijan against the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, the only practicable solution appears to be international recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh, together with a massive, long-term presence of international peacekeeping troops.“
Secondly, the ZAD demands punishment of those responsible for human rights violations and war crimes, protection and return of hostages and protection of cultural property. The call lists a series of crimes, including torture, use of internationally prohibited weapons (cluster bombs and chemical weapons), targeting civilian sites and populations. Among the cultural assets attacked, the ZAD names the bell tower of the Sushi cathedral, khachkars and several churches, adding that videos of the destruction have been circulating in social media. “Approximately 100 monasteries and churches in Nagorno-Karabakh have fallen under Azerbaijan’s control,” the ZAD writes, adding that the experience of total destruction of Armenian khachkars in Nakhichevan is a forewarning of what dangers lie ahead.
The ZAD concludes with demands for international prosecution of documented war crimes committed by Azerbaijan and Turkey, immediate release of prisoners through the Red Cross and the protection of cultural assets. The most important cultural monuments should be declared as belonging to the world’s cultural heritage, they note. And they conclude by adding that representatives of UNICEF and UNESCO should gain access to these monuments, and the most important should be protected by international observers and troops.