On February 26, the Armenia-Lithuania Parliamentary Friendship Group hosted a conference titled “25 years of democracy in Armenia and Lithuania. A glance to a not far away past” in the Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) building. Participating in the conference was ARF-D Parliamentary Faction member, Vahan Hovhannesyan, Mountainous Karabakh Republic’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Karen Mirzoyan and the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Lithuania, Ara Ayvazyan. Members of Lithuanian legislative body, representatives of political, public and academic circles, Lithuanian ”Sayudis” movement founding members, as well as Lithuanian Armenian community representatives attended the ceremony, .
Yerkirmedia. am reminds that from the early days of the liberating movement, the Baltic states, among them Lithuania, had offered their moral and political support to the people of Karabakh.
It is characteristic that the moderator of the session introduced Mirzoyan as the Foreign Affairs Minister of Artsakh.
“In Lithuania’s case the independence gave its people a chance to restore its statehood and fully integrate into the international community, the European Union,” stated Karen Mirzoyan, stressing that the people of Artsakh not only had to assert its right to freedom and independence but also to struggle for its survival and right to live on the land of its ancestors. The minister reminded that Azerbaijan from the very beginning rejected dialogue and search for political settlement of the issue, resorting to the threats and terror, in response to the peaceful and lawful demands of the people of the Nagorno Karabakh. “But our people withstood and passed the test of the imposed war. In May 1994 the ceasefire agreement was signed which gave us opportunity of peaceful life and building of an independent statehood,” said Mirzoyan. He stressed that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is committed to the democratic way of state building, which guarantees all the fundamental human rights and freedoms. Even though Nagorno Karabakh is an unrecognized state and may not undertake commitments to observe the universal democratic standards before international organizations, but it is steadfast in following them. “Moreover the human rights record in our republic is significantly higher than in many recognized states, which was reflected in the last Freedom House report,” said Mirzoyan. He expressed regret that the no being an internationally recognized state poses a barrier for Karabakh’s complete involvement in the international developments that in turn limits the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens. Touching on Karbabakh conflict resolution issue, Mirzoyan reiterated the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s commitment to the peaceful settlement of all disputable issues with Azerbaijan. At the same time he noted with regret that official Baku does not only reject all the proposals of the mediators but also suppresses any even weak initiatives towards reconciliation, as well as implants cult of hatred towards Armenians and anything Armenian and propagates xenophobia, intolerance and militaristic moods.
Armenian parliament member and a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation bloc Vahan Hovannesian and Armenia’s Ambassador to Lithuania Ara Ayvazyan addressed the conference and emphasized that the democratic processes, which began 25 years ago are irreversible. They highlighted the importance of the ideas and the spirit in the peaceful settlement of conflicts.
Lithuanian parliament members Dangutė Mikutienė, Algis Kašėta, Vilija Aleknaitė-Abramikienė also delivered speeches and mentioned the importance of the imperative of staying committed to the ideas of the democratic movements.
Lithuanian Parliament member Dalia Kuodyte read a declaration on establishing in the Lithuanian parliament a friendship group with Republic of Artsakh (the Nagorno Karabakh Republic). The original copy of the signed document was officially handed in to Mirzoyan. Nine members of different fractions of the Lithuanian Parliament joined the initiative.
This initiative angered Azerbaijan, which sent a protest note to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
Azerbaijani Ambassador to Lithuania Hasan Mammadzade met with the leadership of the Lithuanian Parliament and Foreign Ministry in this regard.
Artsakh-Lithuania Parliamentary Friendship Group
On the same day, a group of deputies from the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania declared on establishing a Friendship Group with the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh in the NK Parliament. The declaration signed by nine deputies representing different political forces of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania says:
“Taking note that this year marks 25 years since the day when the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), exercised its right to self-determination, and Lithuania all along supported this aspiration and encouraged a peaceful resolution to the problem;
Considering that the people of Lithuania and Artsakh in their struggle for independence were guided by the generally accepted norms of international law, democratic values and common ideals, a commitment they adhere to this day;
Sharing the vision of the common European space in which every resident is ensured with the right to freely enjoy basic human rights and fundamental freedoms;
Taking note that the right to self-determination in international practice is the only possible guarantee of security and democratic development of the peoples;
Noting the significant efforts of Artsakh to build a free and democratic society through legitimate elections at all levels and the formation of responsible and effective government;
Considering important the involvement of Artsakh in the international community in addressing the existing problems and establishing long-term peace and stability in the region;
We, a group of deputies of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, declare decision to establish in the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania Friendship Group with the Republic of Artsakh (the Nagorno Karabakh Republic).”
Armenpress.am reports that the member of the Lithuanian Seimas, Dalia Kuodite read the above declaration and handed the original document to Mountainous Karabakh Foreign Affairs Minister Karen Mirzoyan.
Karabakh’s inclusion in Azeri territory belongs to soviet reality
There is more tension today than before the 1994 ceasefire, said Vahan Hovhannesyan to the Lithuanian delfi.lt news site. The point is that there is an effort to class the conflict as a bilateral issue and present it as a clash between two principles: self-determination and territorial integrity. But putting the issue in that framework only shows legal illiteracy.
“Territorial entity is sacred and it is important to protect it within the relations of the two self-rule states. No state has the right to occupy another state in whole or in part. However, there is also the case of conflict not between states but between ethnic groups. In those cases, self-determination is a higher priority. This was the case of Mountainous Karabakh. And this is taken on account in all the documents that the Minsk Group mediators accept” Hovhannesyan argued.
He reassured that Armenia has no territorial demands from Azerbaijan and this is why presenting the situation as an Armenian-Azeri conflict is a canny move, aiming at granting another dimension to it. Hovhannesyan emphasized on the clash of the different approaches and explained that Azerbaijan wants to erase the conflict’s consequences while Armenia wants to erase the reasons of the conflict.
“In Azerbaijan, they don’t understand that Karabakh’s inclusion in their territory is absolutely a part of soviet times’ reality. While there was no Azerbaijan until then, in the soviet era they included Karabakh in Azerbaijan’s territory in order to punish the non-subjecting Armenia” Hovhannesyan stressed and added that Armenia was the first state not to obey to the Bolsheviks. “They treated Armenia the way they treated the Baltic States in 1939 when two tyrants signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, while 18 years ago a similar pact was signed between Lenin and Ataturk” Hovhannesyan said.
On the occasion of establishing Republic of Lithuania- Republic of Artsakh Friendship Group in the Seimas of Lithuania the factions of the RA National Assembly made a joint statement, where it says:
“All the political factions of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia welcome the establishment of the Republic of Lithuania-Republic of Artsakh Friendship Group in the Seimas of Lithuania. This historical step of the Lithuanian parliamentarians having no precedent is the evidence of the fearless devotion of the Lithuanian people to the lofty values of humanity, friendship, democracy and freedom, as well as the beginning of new important haven of involving in dialogue the Nagorno Karabakh people by the international community.
25 years ago the friendship, support and unity of the peoples of Lithuania and Armenia paved a path for the restoration of our statehoods. In the history of Armenian people Lithuania has occupied eternal place as first country, which recognized our newly independent republic. It’s peculiar and at the same time natural that today also, as in the crucial days of gaining independence, the very representatives of Lithuania were first that took such dignified and brave step.
We express our gratitude, assessment and support to our Lithuanian counterparts, being confident that Lithuania as an established democratic country, won’t step back against friendship and peaceful existence in the days of unnatural pressures causing hesitation and the hysterical responses coming from Azerbaijan. We fully hope that other Lithuanian parliamentarians adhered to all-human principles, human fundamental freedoms, solidarity and peace will join the initiative of the Seimas members, and in the legislative bodies of other democratic countries this initiative will get new revelations.
Artsakh begins to be observed in the international arena as an independent factor of politics: the facts of recognition of Artsakh independence by some states of the USA and Australia testify to that, the official visit of the Uruguayan Parliamentary delegation to the NKR and other events witness that. The establishment of the Friendship Group with Artsakh by the Lithuanian MPs is one more step on that path.”