STRASBOURG — On 26 October 2023, during its 45th Session in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities held a debate on the humanitarian situation following the flight of more than 100,000 Karabakh Armenians.
In the adopted Declaration presented by Bernd Vöhringer (Germany, EPP/CCE), the Congress strongly condemned the military operation carried out by Azerbaijan in Karabakh on 19-20 September 2023 and the preceding ten-month-long blockade of the region, which have led to a dire humanitarian situation. While recognizing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the Congress deplored the serious humanitarian consequences of the situation and called on Azerbaijan to refrain from any action that may lead to its further deterioration, and to release all detained representatives of Karabakh, including at local level.
The Congress expressed its solidarity with Armenian local authorities hosting Karabakh Armenians, welcomed the support already provided to local communities by the Armenian government, and affirmed its readiness to assist Armenian national and local authorities, including through co-operation activities on the ground, in addressing the consequences of the situation.
Noting the promises made by Azerbaijan’s authorities that the rights and freedoms of Armenian residents will be ensured and the announced plans for their reintegration, the Congress reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s responsibility to guarantee the safety of Karabakh Armenians remaining in the region and ensure protection of their rights, including the right to establish local self-government institutions in conformity with the European Charter of Local Self-Government, and to allow a safe return to the region of those who so wish.
The Congress furthermore called on Azerbaijan to ensure unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance to those remaining in the region, including through a full re-opening of the Lachin corridor, and decided to pay special attention to the situation of all those displaced by the military operation, and to the respect of their rights.