Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg on April 11, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan urged its members to exercise greater care when dealing with the Karabakh conflict.
“I cannot rule out that the discussions on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue that took place here in January 2016 became the prelude of the Four-Day War that broke out in April of the same year, creating a propitious ground for Azerbaijan’s armed forces to launch offensive operations,” Pashinyan said.
“I do not want to assert that the authors of those debates consciously triggered the war, which cost a few hundred human lives for Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.”
In the months before the April war, the Azerbaijani government lobbied for two resolutions on Karabakh, one of which – on Karabakh’s Sarsang reservoir – was adopted in January 2016. Three months later, Azerbaijani forces tried but failed to capture the Madagis area, where Sarsang’s main dam and electric power generator are located.
That resolution’s author, Bosnian Serb parliamentarian Milica Markovic was subsequently investigated on suspicion that she was bribed by Azerbaijan. A number of PACE members have been sanctioned in recent years for receiving gifts from the Aliyev regime in exchange for favorable reports and resolutions.
Pashinyan also encouraged greater PACE engagement on human rights inside Nagorno Karabakh, something that European officials generally support but have avoided doing due to Azerbaijan’s opposition.
“This organization, which is at the forefront of human rights and democratic institutions in Europe, pays zero attention to the support of non-governmental organizations operating in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pashinyan said. “PACE has so far failed to take any steps to strengthen democratic institutions and to build civil society in Nagorno-Karabakh.”