PACE Social Affairs Committee discussed and adopted the report on “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water” by Milica Markovic at its Paris meeting on 23rd November 2015. During tense debates the member of Armenian delegation strongly opposed the report, proposing to cancel its discussion until June session of PACE. This proposal was put on vote and rejected with 16 votes against, 9 votes in favor.
None of the amendments proposed by anti-Azerbaijani forces to Articles 1, 4, 5, and 6 of the resolution part in the report were adopted. I’d like to note that one of the amendments proposed to merge this report with the report on the “Escalation of tension in Nagorno Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan” prepared by Robert Walter and adopted by Political Affairs Committee on November 4. It was obvious that they aimed at taking both reports – report on Sarsang reservoir and report on the occupied territories from the agenda. However, their crafty intention failed, and this absurd amendment was rejected. Finally, the report on the “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water” by Ms. Milica Markovic, MP from Bosnia, was entirely put on vote and adopted with majority being 22 votes in favor, 3 against. This was a historical victory.
This victory realized in the result of serious struggle, thus, it’s necessary to review this struggle shortly.
“Voice of Sarsang” project by ACSDA
The Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan (ACSDA) launched a wide-scale project “Voice of Sarsang” on May 25, 2013.
The goal of the project was to inform both Azerbaijani society and the international community about the situation of Sarsang reservoir, possible humanitarian catastrophe and environmental crisis situation, to achieve the adoption of relevant documents and resolutions in international organizations, mainly in PACE, to prepare the package of measures towards preventing possible humanitarian catastrophe and environmental crisis, etc.
The offices of project functioned in Tartar, Aghdam, Barda, Yevlakh, Aghjabadi, and Goranby, which mostly suffered from the occupation of Sarsang reservoir, and the website of the project was prepared. The world community was regularly informed via mass media. Our activity didn’t limit with Azerbaijan, thus, over 3 thousand media outlets functioning on the international level published information about Sarsang reservoir and its possible humanitarian threat in the English, French, and German languages.
Various conferences, trainings, workshops, and competitions were carried out within the project. The international conference was held in Youth Centre in Tartar city in September of 2013; 5 round tables were organized in Tartar, Barda, Aghjabadi, Aghdam, and Goranboy with the participation of the public and officials on November 9-11, 2013.
Drawing competition of “Voice of Sarsang” among young artists and the competition of articles on the threats of Sarsang reservoir was organized.
The delivery of thousands of letters by inhabitants of the regions mostly suffering from the occupation of Sarsang reservoir addressed to international organizations was organized. Books of the ACSDA titled “Sarsang SOS: historical and cultural monuments in danger”, “Sarsang SOS: threat of humanitarian crisis” and “Sarsang SOS: Sentenced Environment” were published; “March to Sarsang” campaign was held with the participation of several foreign embassies, mass media representatives, and public figures on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2014.
I’d like to note that the ACSDA has realized different kinds of projects, besides civil society problems for 10 years. Among them, the projects regarding the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia were in priority. The book on “Khojaly massacre: million signatures, one demand” published in three languages, online magazine on Karabakh, marches to Karabakh are among these activities of the ACSDA. Sarsang project is at the top of all these activities, as thanks to this project, Sarsang problem forgotten for 23 years became a topical issue, the problem was delivered to the international community, and finally, the motion on resolution on Sarsang reservoir was brought to the agenda on the international level.
Sarsang on the international level
a) OSCE PA
The OSCE PA session was held in Istanbul on July 3, 2013. 2 amendments regarding Sarsang reservoir to paragraphs 10 and 16 to the motion on resolution on “Environmental Dimension of Energy Security” were submitted there.
However, the amendments were blocked during the vote in the result of efforts by anti-Azerbaijani forces.
b) EURONEST PA
We tabled an urgent motion on resolution regarding possible humanitarian catastrophe on Sarsang reservoir within the Euronest PA on May of 2013. Although the motion was submitted timely in accordance with rules of procedure, it was removed from the agenda on different excuses as a result of efforts by some anti-Azerbaijani MEPs and political groups in the European Parliament.
c) Sarsang fight with PACE leadership
During PACE 2013 spring and summer sessions, under my authorship and initiative, I submitted two motions for resolutions on Sarsang reservoir which is under Armenian occupation. However, PACE leadership purposefully prevented their considerations.
Despite these, on June 25, under my authorship and with 45 signatures of MPs representing 18 European countries, a new draft document on Sarsang reservoir was submitted in PACE. However, this document was also prevented by PACE Presidential Committee.
Although our efforts for preparing a report on the state and threats of Sarsang reservoir were prevented, in March 2014, I issued a new motion for resolution called “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”. The motion initially was considered in Presidential Committee in Strasbourg, on April 6, 2014. This time Presidential Committee adopted the opinion for preparing a report on motion for resolution. Bureau, in its meeting held on April 11, made a decision to refer the issue to the Committee on Social Affairs for preparing report. This decision was approved in a Plenary Session of the Assembly, right after the Bureau meeting on the same day. Finally, on May 12, 2014, the Committee on Social Affairs, in its meeting held in Nicosia, appointed Ms. Milica Markovic, MP from Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a rapporteur for preparing a report called “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”.
d) Attacks to rapporteur and report
Armenian side goes against transformation of the problem from OSCE Minsk Group framework to other international platform, saying that it hinders the negotiation process, tries to conceal its aggressive policy and to prevent the conduct of any consideration and adoption any resolution in PACE on the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia and Sarsang reservoir which is under occupation. Therefore, Armenian side refused to cooperate with the rapporteur Ms. Milica Markovic on “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water”, as with the rapporteur Mr. Robert Walter on “Escalation of tension in Nagorno-Karabakh and other territories of Azerbaijan”.
PACE Secretary addressed a request to the Armenian side, asking them to allow the rapporteur to visit the occupied areas, where the Sarsang reservoir is located, and to evaluate the situation just on the ground. However, Armenian authority didn’t allow the rapporteur to visit the area, where the Sarsang reservoir is located. Armenia’s response to PACE was absurd ad ridiculous. Thus, aggressive Armenia hypocritically advised to request to so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” (NGR), which is not recognized by any state and any international organization, saying that this problem doesn’t concern Armenia. Armenia with its provocative response did not able to realize its dreams as instigating the PACE rapporteur to cooperate with so-called “NGR” and then declaring the world that PACE as if recognized and cooperated with “NGR”. By taking this step, Armenian side, in fact, refused to cooperate with PACE rapporteur and to implement its international responsibility.
In spite of Armenia’s destructive position, MP Ms. Milica Markovic, during her mandate, two times visited Azerbaijan, met with Azerbaijani official bodies and the representatives of ACSDA implementing “SOS Sarsang” project, visited damaged frontier regions of Azerbaijan as a result of occupation of Sarsang reservoir, talked to local residents, observed the real situation there, and then prepared the report and submitted it to the Committee on Social Affairs.
Armenian side by all means tried to prevent the preparation of the report and its consideration in the Committee. For this purpose, Armenian officials, in presidential and ministerial (foreign affairs) level, made telephone calls to the heads of states and governments of PACE member countries; colleagues of Armenian embassies in European countries met with PACE members and influenced them not to support the report, and requested the removal of report from the agenda, having regard that the rapporteur has not visited the area, where Sarsang reservoir is located.
e) Armenia was stamped as an occupier
It should be noted that on the basis of two draft resolutions submitted by myself on the occupied territories and immediate release of our citizens taken as hostages, Robert Walter prepared a report called “Escalation of tension in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan”. The report was adopted in the meeting of the Committee on Social Affairs on November 4, and consequently Armenia was stamped as an occupier.
At the same time, adoption of the report called “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water” on the basis of my third motion for resolution again in November declared to the world that Armenia uses the water, even which is considered as a source of life in the whole world – as a weapon to carry out its aggressive policy and reconfirmed the occupier stamp given to Armenia.
f) Armenia’s concern and self-protection efforts
After the adoption of the resolution on our occupied territories in PACE Committee on Political Affairs, Armenians facing the defeat were deeply concerned that the draft resolution on Sarsang reservoir would be adopted on 23 November. They began showing hypocrisy through ways of characteristic of them such as slander, lie, smear, etc. Along with these, they influenced and attacked the rapporteur and the country he represents by all means. In the briefing held on November 20, 2015, Levon Zurabyan, the chair of the Armenian National Congress Fraction, said that Armenian delegation to PACE, of which he is also a member, tried for the appointment of Jean-Claude Mignon as a rapporteur on motion for resolution related to the occpation, but was defeated. Therefore, he obviously acknowledges their cooperation with pro-Armenian Jean-Claude Mignon. During his PACE Presidency, Jean-Claude Mignon two times vetoed my motions for resolutions both on occupation and Sarsang reservoir.
MEPs will remember both PACE Presidents functioning since these reports came up – Jean-Claude MIGNON and Anne BRASSEUR as PACE presidents standing against both reports on occupation of Azerbaijani lands and defending Armenians. By the way, I would like to mention an unprecedented “favour” done in both reports and other subjects by PACE Secretary General Mr. Sawicki, who is hostile to Azerbaijan and always show great sacrifices in rder to create a negative image of the country.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister gave an interview at that time, on November 20,2015. He stated that OCSE Minsk Group Co-chairs goes against the Nagorno-Karabakh problem to be transformed to the different international platform and Minsk Group Co-chairs consider that attempts to change the format of resolution may hinder the negotiation process. Although in his November 06, 2015 dated interview to the local news agency Minsk Group Co-chair James Warlick stated that he welcomes this resolution of PACE and their readiness to hold consultations with PACE rapporteurs on this issue.
According to Eduard Nalbandyan, rapporteur Robert Valter allegedly aplied to the so-called “NKR” authorities in written form on September 22, in order to visit Nagorno-Karabakh and so-called “NKR” authorities are ready to cooperate in Sarsang water reservoir issue and host PACE rapporteur.
It seems clear that naming separatist regime occupants do not give up their desire to gain points and legitimize the occupation. Of course sending letter to the organisation that is not recognised by PACE or any cooperation with this organisation is nonsense. At the latest report adopted PACE unanimously calls Armenia an agressor and accuses in failling in cooperation with PACE while preparation of the reports.
This facts once again prove that Nalbandyan do not abstain even telling lies, oppenly lying to the international community in order to avoid vanquished position they gain. Armenians that cannot take a loss went on search of culprit.
Armenians fallen into panic after their first lose in November were doomed to failure once again despite all the feint.
The resolution on “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water” adopted on November 23 meeting of Social Committee is the first official document on Sarsang, Azerbaijan’s strategic object under occupation, adopted by the international organizations.
This resolution is a document of a great importance. The resolution once again confirm the facto of occupation of Nagorno-arabakh and other surrounding territories of Azerbaijan by Armenia; condemned emergence of humanitarian and environmental problems for Azerbaijani population living in the valley of Down Karabakh, which is adjacent to the occupied territories; highlights that abandonement of Sarsang water reservoir may cause a great disaster accomlished by new humanitarian crisis, loss of a great number of lifes; claims to stop using water resources as a means of political influence or pressure and immediately withdraw armed forces of Armenia from the region.
In general, this document once again confirms the essence of the agressive policy of Armenia; informs the international community about situation occured in the region as a result of Armenian occupation; strengthens the position of Azerbaijan in the negotiations; extends the capabilities of the international community to increase pressure on Armenia.
It must be noted that struggle for adoption of “Escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan” resolution after two motions on the liberation of Azerbaijani territories and Azerbaijani hostages, and the resolution on “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water” was always under the supervision of the Prezident of the Republic of Azerbaijan; theadoption of these resolutions is the success of the foreign policy of President Ilham Aliyev.
Adoption of these resolutions is a drop in the sea of my duty to my country, my people, those voted for me. I hope these resolutions would be approved on January 2016 session of PACE, as they are our voices of justice!
Finally, I want to note that I am turning 75 on December 6, 2015. Every time thinking of past years I wonder whether I have set anything memorable for my country, my people, may motherland. While feeling excitement and joy of spectacular victory through adoption of 3 motions for resolutions I remembered my favourite tetrastich. I felt as if these four were dedicated to me:
Don’t think you are old
Not every human being can get old
You rose over while getting old
Not every old can rise over