Armenia on Thursday played down political implications of a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling on an Azerbaijani lawsuit stemming from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian insisted that it will have no impact on international efforts to broker a solution to the conflict that are spearheaded by the United States, Russia and France. “The Minsk Group of the OSCE is the only structure with an international mandate to deal with the conflict’s resolution,” he said in comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
The ECHR ruled earlier this week on two lawsuits filed by Armenian and Azerbaijani former residents of districts around Karabakh who were displaced during the 1991-1994 war for the disputed territory. It said that Azerbaijan and Armenia violated the plaintiffs’ respective property rights and should eventually compensate them.
The Strasbourg court thus held Armenia responsible for the displacement of Elkhan Chiragov and five other Azerbaijani plaintiffs from Azerbaijan’s Lachin district occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992. It said that Yerevan has had “effective control over Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding territories,” including Lachin, despite Armenian claims to the contrary.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry hailed this conclusion on Wednesday, saying that the ECHR thereby “put an end to Armenia’s nonstop denial of the occupation of Azerbaijani lands.”
“The decision on Chiragov’s lawsuit applies to an individual case and it cannot affect the negotiation process aimed at the conflict’s resolution,” insisted Nalbandian. “By exploiting that decision Azerbaijan can only damage efforts at a peaceful settlement.”
Nalbandian said that the return of Armenian and Azerbaijani refugees to their homes can only be the result of a “comprehensive” Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord. He said the U.S., Russia and France have repeatedly made this clear in their joint statements on the Karabakh dispute.