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Procedure : 2021/2693(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B9-0281/2021

Texts tabled :

B9-0281/2021

Debates :

PV 20/05/2021 - 10.1
CRE 20/05/2021 - 9.1

Votes :

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2021)0251

<Date>{18/05/2021}18.5.2021</Date>
<NoDocSe>B9‑0281/2021</NoDocSe>
PDF 175kWORD 49k

<TitreType>MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION</TitreType>

<TitreSuite>with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law</TitreSuite>

<TitreRecueil>pursuant to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure</TitreRecueil>


<Titre>on prisoners of war in the aftermath of the most recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan</Titre>

<DocRef>(2021/2693(RSP))</DocRef>


<RepeatBlock-By><Depute>Petras Auštrevičius, Malik Azmani, Dita Charanzová, Olivier Chastel, Katalin Cseh, Klemen Grošelj, Svenja Hahn, Karin Karlsbro, Nathalie Loiseau, Karen Melchior, Frédérique Ries, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Michal Šimečka, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Ramona Strugariu</Depute>

<Commission>{Renew}on behalf of the Renew Group</Commission>

</RepeatBlock-By>

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0277/2021
NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.

B9‑0281/2021

European Parliament resolution on prisoners of war in the aftermath of the most recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan

(2021/2693(RSP))

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to its previous resolutions on the South Caucasus and on the European Neighbourhood Policy,

-  having regard to its resolution of 20 January 2021 on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy – annual report 2020,

-  having regard to the European Parliament recommendation of 19 June 2020 to the Council, the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the Eastern Partnership, in the run-up to the June 2020 Summit,

-  having regard to the letter by 120 Members of the European Parliament to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council, on the Armenian prisoners of war held by Azerbaijan of 3 May,

-  having regard to the Statement by High Representative Josep Borrell on the Armenia/Azerbaijan border situation of 14 May 2021,

-  having regard to the EU Statement on captives from the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the 1402nd meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 28 April 2021,

-  having regard to the Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union on Nagorno Karabakh of 19 November 2020,

-  having regard to the Statements by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group of 13 April and 5 May,

-  having regard to the letter addressed by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović to President Aliyev on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of 20 April 2021,

-  having regard to the Joint Statements by the Chair of the Delegation for relations with the South Caucasus, MEP Marina Kaljurand, the European Parliament's Standing Rapporteur on Armenia, MEP Andrey Kovatchev, and the European Parliament's Standing Rapporteur on Azerbaijan, MEP Željana Zovko of 13 November 2020, 2 February 2021 and 23 March 2021,

-  having regard to the Human Rights Watch report “Azerbaijan: Armenian POWs Abused in Custody” of 19 March 2021,

- having regard to the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part,

-  having regard to the Partnership Priorities between the EU and Azerbaijan endorsed by the Cooperation Council on 28 September 2018,

- having regard to Rule 144 of the Rules of Procedure;

A. whereas the trilateral ceasefire agreement of 9 November 2020 between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia ended the hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh that were conducted from September 27 to November 9; whereas the war resulted in the loss of lives of thousands of servicemen on both sides and caused great suffering to civilians by causing hundreds of tragic civilian casualties and tenths of thousands of displaced people;

B. whereas the paragraph 8 of the ceasefire agreement provides that “exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees as well as the remains of the fatalities shall be carried out”; whereas it was agreed by the parties concerned that the return of captives would be carried out on the principle of “all in exchange for all”;

C. whereas Armenia released all captives of the recent war and no Azerbaijani prisoners of war or civilians are known to be held in Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh;

D. whereas Azerbaijan still holds Armenian prisoners of war and has allegedly made new prisoners, including civilians, after the official end of hostilities; whereas it is difficult to precisely draw up the number of remaining prisoners and captives, due to the high number of missing persons and the lack of cooperation from the Azerbaijani side, but it would include 69 people whose captivity Azerbaijan admits, 112 people about whom Azerbaijan did not provide any information, and 61 people whose captivity Azerbaijan categorically denies, but about whom there is concrete evidence to the contrary;

E. whereas the refusal of the Azerbaijani authorities to unconditionally liberate all the prisoners of war and captives is a grave violation of the international humanitarian law, a non-respect of the ceasefire agreement of 9 November 2020 and is also in deep contradiction with Azerbaijan’s claims to move to normalization and reconciliation;

F. whereas Azerbaijan has not responded to the mandatory information request by the European Court of Human Rights on the circumstances of the capture, the conditions under which prisoners of war are detained, their medical examinations or treatment with the support of medical certificates, made by the Court under Rule 39 in the context of legal proceedings initiated at the urgent request of Armenia[1];

G. whereas the Human Rights Watch reported on 19 of March that Azerbaijani security and armed forces abused Armenian prisoners of war, subjecting them to cruel and degrading treatment and torture either when they were captured, during their transfer, or while in custody at various detention facilities; whereas Azerbaijani forces used violence to detain civilians and subjected them to torture and inhuman and degrading conditions of detention, leading to the death of at least two detainees in Azerbaijani captivity; whereas Azerbaijani forces detained these civilians even though there was no evidence that they posed any security threat to justify their detention under international humanitarian law;

H. whereas the creation of a « Military Trophies Park » in Baku goes against the responsibility held by authorities of Azerbaijan to heal the wounds inflicted by the armed conflict and to ensure that citizens under Azerbaijan’s rule are treated with respect;

I. whereas videos reportedly circulated on the Internet and social media which evidenced instances of abuse and ill treatment of captives by members of the armed forces of both sides; whereas there is no indication that Azerbaijani or Armenian authorities have conducted prompt, public and effective investigations into these incidents, or that the investigations, if any, have resulted in criminal prosecutions;

J. whereas during the hostilities from September to November 2020 the Armenian and Azerbaijani military forces carried out unlawfully indiscriminate rocket and missile strikes on populated areas, causing civilian casualties and damaging homes, businesses and schools, and contributing to mass displacement; whereas both sides also used cluster munitions, banned because of their widespread indiscriminate effect and long-lasting danger on civilians, in populated areas, resulting in civilian casualties;

K. Whereas millions of pieces of unexploded ordnance and mines are spread in and around Nagorno Karabakh; whereas all sides should provide available maps of minefields to permit civilians to return to former conflict regions;

L. whereas on May 12, troops from Azerbaijan entered the territory of Armenia, which amounts to a violation of the territorial integrity of Armenia and of international law;

M. whereas on May 16, Azerbaijan started military exercises in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic involving up to 15,000 military personnel and heavy military equipment;

N. whereas the European Commission announced on 17 of May the allocation of an additional €10 million in humanitarian aid to help civilians affected by the recent conflict in and around Nagorno Karabakh, bringing the EU assistance to people in need, since the start of the hostilities in September 2020, to over €17 million;

1. Welcomes the agreement on a complete ceasefire in and around Nagorno-Karabakh agreed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on 9 November 2020; notes positively that the ceasefire has been generally respected, apart from deplorable but isolated incidents; condemns the entry of Azerbaijani troops inside of the territory of Armenia, in violation of international law; regrets the large military exercises by Azerbaijan which further escalate tensions between the two countries; hopes that this agreement will save the lives of both civilians and military personnel and open brighter perspectives for a peaceful settlement of this deadly conflict;

2. Regrets that during the 25 years of negotiations there were no results; regrets the use of military force designed to change the status quo; strongly condemns the killing of civilians and destruction of civilian facilities and places of worship, condemns the reported use of cluster munitions in the conflict;

3. Regrets that the outcome of the ceasefire agreement led towards deployment of the so-called Russian peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh, which based on experiences of other Eastern Partnership countries serves the interests of Russia alone;

4. Condemns the support provided to Azerbaijan by Turkey, which only encouraged Azerbaijan to use military force instead of peaceful negotiations; also condemns the participation of Syrian mercenaries, brought by Turkey, to the armed conflict;

5. Notes that the conflict destabilized Armenian political environment, which after 2018 parliamentary election embarked on a path of democratic and pro-European reforms,  and increased Armenia’s dependability on Russia known for its active opposition to democratization of the EU’s Eastern Partners;

6. Stresses that a lasting settlement still remains to be found and that the process of achieving peace and determining Nagorno-Karabakh’s future legal status should be led by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and founded on their 2009 Basic Principles, in line with the norms and principles of international law, the UN Charter and the OSCE 1975 Helsinki Final Act;

7. Regrets that the EU Member States participating in the OSCE Minsk Group were not present when the ceasefire agreement was brokered, as well as the EU did not demonstrate leadership in bringing to the negotiation table two of its highly valued Eastern Partners;

8. Expresses concerns over decreased activity of the OSCE Minsk Group and capacity to serve its purpose; calls for active EU and its Member States engagement in reinforcing the peace and reconciliation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, applying similar leadership demonstrated in Georgia when mediating the prolonged political crisis;

9. Raises concerns over a decision of the separatist parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh to make Russian the region's second official language, along with Armenian language;

10. Calls on both parties to fully and expeditiously complete the exchange process for all prisoners, detainees, and human remains, and to respect their obligations to ensure the humane treatment of detainees;

11. Calls on Azerbaijan to comply with its obligations under the international humanitarian law and with the ceasefire agreement and to release without delay all remaining prisoners of war and detained persons, regardless of the circumstances of their arrest and to refrain from arbitrary detentions in the future; urges the government of Azerbaijan to provide the lists of all persons in captivity in Azerbaijan detained in connection with the armed conflict or in its aftermath and to provide information about their whereabouts and state of health;

12. Expresses its grave concern over the numerous allegations of abuse of the prisoners of Nagorno-Karabakh war, in particular as documented in the Human Rights Watch report “Azerbaijan: Armenian POWs Abused in Custody”; reminds the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia of their  international obligations to conduct independent, prompt, public and effective investigations and prosecute all credible allegations of breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and violations of the prohibition of torture;  stresses that full respect of international humanitarian law and the prohibition of torture and other degrading or inhuman treatment must be ensured;

13. Calls on the government of Azerbaijan to refrain from any violence, harassment, torture and ill-treatment of Armenian prisoners and fully respect the provisions of international humanitarian and human rights law; calls, furthermore, to respect legal safeguards, to ensure judicial control over detentions, allow access of independent lawyers, doctors, human rights defenders to prisoners, and facilitate communication with the relatives;

14. Calls on Azerbaijan to provide the outstanding information requested by the European Court of Human Rights;

15. Calls on the government of Azerbaijan to guarantee free and unimpeded access to prisoners for relevant international organisations, such as International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT);

16. Highlights the urgent need to ensure that humanitarian assistance can reach those in need, that the security of the Armenian population and its cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh is ensured, that unexploded ordnance and mines are removed, i.a. through the provision of maps of minefields, and that internally displaced persons and refugees can return to their former places of residence;

17. Disapproves the opening of the “Military Trophies Park” in Baku, which displays Armenian military equipment taken as a trophy during the war and caricatured mannequins of Armenian soldiers; sees such exposition as humiliating and dehumanizing, increasing the violent rhetoric, and obstructing much needed reconciliation efforts;

18. Strongly insist on both parties to refrain from any actions destructing Armenian heritage in Azerbaijan and Azeri heritage in Armenia; deplores destruction of the Armenian cemetery in Julfa, in the Nakhchivan exclave of Azerbaijan, and dismantling of the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi by Azerbaijan, inter alia;  deplores the destruction of mosques and cemeteries by Armenian forces during the past 30 years; considers unacceptable reports of destruction of or manipulation with Armenian cultural and religious sites by Azerbaijani authorities; urges that no interventions on Armenian heritage sites occur prior to a UNESCO assessment mission, and that Armenian and international cultural heritage experts are consulted prior to, and closely involved during interventions on Armenian cultural heritage sites; calls for full restoration of these and other demolished sites and for greater involvement of the international community, particularly UNESCO, in protecting the world heritage in the region;

19. Underlines that renewed efforts are necessary to build confidence between both countries, which include the lifting of restrictions on access to Nagorno-Karabakh, including for representatives of international humanitarian organizations, the unblocking of transportation and communication lines throughout the region, and the fostering of direct contacts and co-operation between communities affected by the conflict as well as other people-to-people confidence building measures;

20. Calls on the EU and Member States to put pressure on Azerbaijan and Armenia to take a firm stance against any rhetoric or actions which lead to triggering animosity or hatred and instead, provide full support and political backing towards efforts aimed at promoting peace and reconciliation between the populations affected by the conflict, particularly bearing in mind the wellbeing of the future generations of Azerbaijan and Armenia;

21. Calls on the parties to resume at the earliest opportunity high-level political dialogue under the auspices of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group;

22. Calls on Azerbaijan and Armenia to make an immediate commitment not to use cluster munitions and to take the necessary steps to join without further delay the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively bans their use;

23. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the EU Member States, the Council of Europe, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

[1] https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press#{%22itemid%22:[%22003-6809725-9108584%22]}

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