Armenian opposition leader Raffi Hovannisian’s landmark visit to Azerbaijan ended in scandal on Friday as he was reportedly barred from addressing an international forum held in Baku.
News reports from the Azerbaijani capital said the chairman of the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party attempted to protest against a declaration adopted at the session of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP). The declaration upheld Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Upon his return to Armenia Hovannisian addressed a letter to the co-chairmen of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, the 7th General Assembly of which Hovannisian had addressed in Baku on Nov 23.
“The “Baku declaration” is a sham and a forgery. It was imposed upon the delegates to the Assembly in flagrant disrespect of their rights and dignity; in intentional violation of the procedures of the organization which required a) adoption by consensus (at least I opposed it publicly and in no uncertain terms) and b) distribution of its final draft to all delegates before the closing session (which was purposefully not done); and in what appeared to be a premeditated conspiracy of commission (at least by the distinguished senator from Pakistan who headed the drafting committee and was informed in advance that I demanded, in accordance with the aforementioned procedural preconditions, to see the draft declaration and to speak in reference to it if it turned out to be one-sided, partisan and/or untruthful) and of silence (both of you sat quietly by as the ICAPP rules and regulations were being railroaded by the Azerbaijani delegation and the senator in charge of drafting the resolution),” Mr. Hovannisian said.
“As you well know, not only was I denied the right to reply when during the 4th plenary session at least five Azerbaijani delegates attacked me by name with slanderous falsehoods and calls to arms, but I was expressly refused my fundamental prerogative to express my position on participating in, or opposing, the consensus required for adoption of the declaration.”
“In short, there was no consensus; the rule of law was mocked in broad daylight; and, what is worse, the text of the “final” document included a section on Nagorno Karabakh which was stealthily added at the last moment, hence rendering it a declaration of standard Azerbaijani propaganda which not only was spurious and self-serving but effectively supported their war rhetoric and incitement to violence (as manifested in the most uncivil banging of fists to which all of us can testify) instead of the cause of peace, security, and reconciliation. How ironic. I do not know if this was the price the ICAPP leadership had to pay in exchange for the arrangements and other undisclosed benefits delivered by the host state and its ruling party. Frankly, that is not my concern, but rather a matter for your conscience and of your own fidelity to the high principles and values of ICAPP,” the Armenian politician said.
“I hereby demand that you do the right thing, correct your misconduct, and cancel the corruption called the “Baku declaration,” as well as its publication, forthwith and in toto. That failing — and even if no other delegate of good conscience registers his or her protest in formal Fashion — I demand that you remove the word “Armenia” from that falsified piece of paper. If the ICAPP leadership wishes to remain complicit in this deceitful, bellicose affair, and wants to associate itself with war and not pacific settlement, that is your choice. I will not be a part of it,” he said.
While in Baku Hovannisian called on Azerbaijan to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state during his visit to Baku.
“I think the territorial integrity of all states should be respected, including the territorial integrity of the Mountainous Karabakh Republic,” Hovannisian said. “They are all new states. Azerbaijan is a new state. And I think that in the post-Soviet space it is still under question what is the extent of the territorial integrity of the states in the region.”
“It is very clear to me that whether old or new, recognized or not, the Republic of Mountainous Karabakh has a right of recognition. Azerbaijan would do very well to be the first to recognize. I understand that’s a difficult issue,” he said, according to Azerbaijani news agencies.