The delegation led by the RA NA President Alen Simonyan takes part in the European Conference of the Presidents of Parliaments of the Council of Europe in Dublin.
The Speakers of Parliaments of 46 member states of the Council of Europe, the parliamentarians of observer states, as well as the Heads of inter-parliamentary organizations are participating in the Conference.
The RA NA President Alen Simonyan gave speech within the framework of the theme of The Challenges to Representative Democracy in Volatile Times. Here is the full speech by the Speaker of Parliament:
“Dear Mr. Ó Fearghaíl,
Dear Mr. Buttimer,
Madam Secretary General,
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank Mr. Ó Fearghaíl, Mr. Buttimer, and our Irish friends for their warm hospitality and organization of this event. It is a real honour for me to take part in this conference and address my fellow counterparts. We keenly recognize the depth and multitude of problems - and threats - that characterize our turbulent times. In the words of the Irish well-known writer, politician William Yeats, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed.The challenges facing liberalism and representative democracy are profound. Robust solutions are imperative. We need look no further than the war in Ukraine to witness the lust for power throughout the world, through the instrument of force. This anti-democratic regression occurs to the detriment of human rights and starkly conflicts with the collective values and ideals outlined in the European Convention on Human Rights. We are acutely aware of the pivotal role that democracy plays in safeguarding human rights and promoting the common good. It is unquestionably the most effective system in inspiring the confidence of citizens in their governments and in fostering resilience within society. Among the threats that undermine the foundations of this political order are autocratic governance and justice unrealized. Armenia knows the value of true democracy. The fortification of democracy through the strengthening of democratic institutions, legislative improvements, and reforms in governance is a priority for us. Our commitment to democratic principles was the most significant factor enabling us to overcome the serious political crisis resulting from the devastating 44-day war instigated by Azerbaijan against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020. In Armenia people exercise their power in a manner guaranteed by the Constitution in elections that are free and fair. We continue to implement reforms and craft legislation aimed at bolstering electoral rights in accord with European Standards.
Peace and democracy are interlinked, and governments facing existential threats are under enormous pressure to realize the mandates they were elected to carry out. The war in Nagorno-Karabakh revealed that autocratic regimes, based on the notion that “might is right,” often resolve conflicts through military force, bypassing international mediation. Today, our democracy continues to face numerous tests. It is endangered by external factors - none greater than military threats to our security and territorial integrity. Understandably, the constant threat of violence has a dire effect on the welfare of our society. Through its drumbeat of hateful, xenophobic rhetoric - accompanied by ultimatums and military aggression - Azerbaijan has created a toxic atmosphere and poisoned the peace process. Feckless responses from the international community have created in Azerbaijan a sense of impunity, worsening the situation in the region. Azerbaijani actions are not confined to Nagorno-Karabakh but extend to the sovereign territories of Armenia, some of which remain under Azerbaijan’s control. Azerbaijan’s approach is to impose its preferred solutions on Armenia through force. For over three years Azerbaijan has refused to return Armenian prisoners of war and other civilians, in defiance of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. Moreover, since the Court’s decision, Azerbaijan has kidnapped 2 Armenian soldiers from Armenian territory, bringing the total number of confirmed POWs to 35.
I was not surprised that our Turkish colleague approved the use of military force against the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. I am not surprised that Turkiye, Azerbaijan and Russia are often using the same rhetoric. What I am surprised for is that they are doing so here, at the organization that is founded for protection of human rights.
In different forms, Armenia has continuously been attacked by Azerbaijan. In his own words, President Aliyev mused about how many messages Armenia needed to receive to get the point. “Were the 2021 and 2022 border operations not enough?” he asked.He noted that Armenia did not seem to understand the closing of the Lachin corridor, the first phase of his ethnic cleansing campaign, about 10 months ago. On September 19, the next part began. Despite the presence of the Russian peacekeepers, Azerbaijan unleashed another large-scale military attack against Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. Hundreds have been wounded or killed; tens of thousands are being forcibly displaced.They stay in the open air, without food, healthcare, and other means of survival. As I speak, in fulfillment of Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing plan, the exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, is underway. It is unbelievable that this is happening today - in the 21st century - in plain sight of the world. Through its actions, which minimized international efforts to build peace and stability in the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan has called into question its fitness to be a member of the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe should be actively engaged in the protection of human rights in the most challenging conflicts. It should be a priority for the Council of Europe to protect the rights of everyone within the geographic scope of the Council of Europe, and this includes Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia remains committed to achieving a just and lasting peace in the region. We hope that the October 5th meeting in Granada, Spain of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, France, and the EU on the sidelines of the Third European Political Community Summit will be a step forward. Armenia strongly endorses the approach to peace agreed to by Prime Minister Pashinyan and President Aliyev and articulated by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. We welcome future transport arrangements that respect the principles of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and reciprocity. We call on the international community, including the Council of Europe, to support this process. Today, a hybrid war is being waged by certain countries against Armenia.Its goals are twofold: overthrow the democratically elected government and discredit the notion of representative democracy itself. Democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and peaceful co-existence are the pillars upon which humankind should live in peace and harmony. This is true not only within democratic states individually but also among them collectively. Together - and perhaps only together - can we prevail over the troubles of our time. The center must hold. Thank you.”