PARIS — Azerbaijan should not host the United Nations Climate Conference (COP29) as the country remains responsible for the recent ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh, Bernard Kouchner, the former Foreign Minister of France, said in a op-ed for Le Monde, published on Saturday.

“How can […] such a crucial event [be hosted] in a country that deviates from international law, depends heavily on hydrocarbons and flouts human rights by holding twenty-three Armenian hostages without valid reason who are dying in its jails? A year has not passed since the ethnic cleansing of the 120,000 Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan has already been awarded the right to host an event as prestigious as COP29. This choice raises questions on both humanitarian and ecological levels,” he wrote.

The United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) appears to be acting as if the events of the past months had not happened, giving Azerbaijan a blank check to continue violating international law, Kouchner believes.

“For the first time in over two millennia, there are no Armenians left in this part of the world [Nagorno-Karabakh]. As they were about to leave the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Ruben Vardanian, a philanthropist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and seven other Armenian political leaders were taken hostage by Azeri authorities along with a dozen civilians,” Kouchner stressed.

“Their arbitrary detention is all the more worrying because no foreign observer or media is allowed to be present at the ongoing trials or to provide information on their state of health. For nearly nine months, calls for the release of these hostages have gone unheeded. However, and it is essential to reiterate, the fight against climate change cannot be dissociated from respect for human rights,” he added.

Azerbaijan launched a full-scale invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh on 19-20 September 2023 using artillery, UAVs, and aircraft. On 28 September, Samvel Shahramanyan, the leader of the self-proclaimed state, signed a decree that put the republic out of existence starting 1 January 2024.

Roughly a week after the invasion, all but a few ethnic Armenians left Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian government reported registering a total of 115,000 refugees.

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