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Baroness Cox Makes Case for Karabagh at UN 09/10/2002
By Florence Avakian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator

UNITED NATIONS, NY ' Monday, September 9 was a special day at the United  Nations for the Karabagh question. Through the eloquent words of Baroness  Caroline Cox, the issue received attention before an international audience.  It was part of the 55th annual conference at the world body, entitled  "Rebuilding Societies Emerging from Conflict: A Shared Responsibility," under  the aegis of the Department of Public Information (DPI) and Non-Governmental  Organizations (NGO).

The baroness who is the deputy speaker at the British House of Lords, spoke  at a panel discussion, attended by the Karabagh Representative in Washington,  Sarkis Kotanjian, the Azerbaijani deputy ambassador, and close to a hundred  UN personnel and journalists, entitled, "Working Towards Reconciliation in  the Caucasus." The workshop was sponsored by the Diocese of the Armenian  Church (Eastern Diocese) and the Armenian Women's Association of Canada.  Also on the panel were Dr. Paul Crego from the Library of Congress who  addressed the Abkhazian issue, and Dr. Khatoune Temisjian from the University  of Montreal Centre for Ethnic Studies, who focused on the technical aspects  of reconciliation in post-conflict situations. The workshop was moderated by  Aram Arkun, from the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center.  Working tirelessly on this project was Adrienne Alexanian, NGO representative  at the United Nations. Her family's fund (the Alexanian Fund) donated the  expenses of the baroness' travel to the United States. While here, Baroness  Cox also addressed a standing-room-only audiences on the Karabagh question at  St. James Episcopal Church, and St. Bartholomew's Church. Cox, who has been a long-time member of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, has  traveled to Karabagh more than 50 times, bringing much-needed medical  supplies with each trip. Starting her inspiring address, she gave a brief  accounting of the conflict's history, including the 70-year economic and  cultural exploitation of the region, the annulment of Karabagh's autonomous  status in 1991, the overwhelming mandate of the Karabagh people for  independence, and the election of their first Parliament.

Addressing the current conflict, she listed the ethnic cleansing which  followed the 1988 Karabagh protests with Azerbaijan using its formidable  military might (only Azerbaijan used grad missiles, daily aerial bombardment,  ground to air missiles). Azerbaijan, with its seven million population,  unleashed this devastating weaponry against the Karabagh population of only  150,000, she stated, adding, "These virtually impossible odds were  exacerbated with Turkish military support, experienced military personnel,  and mujahadeen mercenaries.

In addition, the speaker pointed out that major aid organizations such as  UNHCR and UNICEF, which have been readily available to Azeri civilians, have  been denied to Karabagh because it is not recognized as an independent  republic. And still, both Turkey and Azerbaijan are continuing the blockade  of Armenia and Karabagh, causing incalculable suffering, she noted. Turning to the courage of the Karabagh Armenians to rebuild their shattered  lives and lands, she pointed out the development of democracy, including the  recent "open, free and fair elections; the rebuilding of a civil society `  their churches, schools, cultural institutes, colleges and university;  progress in social welfare and health care, including rehabilitation clinics  for the injured; the revival of the economy and agriculture; and measures to  promote healing especially for those still suffering from the torture and  abuse they received as prisoners and hostages. 

Problems Needing Resolution
The baroness related the continuing conflict be tween the principles of  territorial integrity, (artificially contrived by Stalin), and the right of  self-determination. "There must be a flexibility of approach to the  definition of territorial integrity, and international sanctioned criteria  for the rights of victimized minorities suffering threats to survival to seek  independence, and for that independence to achieve international  recognition," she declared.

One of the most callous acts by Azerbaijan, she continued, is keeping the  Azeri refugees (approximately 600,000) in harsh conditions in camps, for  political gain. She pointed out that Armenia "has approximately comparable  numbers of people rendered homeless by Azeri massacres in Sumgait, Baku,  Kirovabad, and by war. "Why has Armenia with a population of less than three  million, still suffering from the effects of a massive earthquake, and from a  blockade imposed by Azerbaijan and Turkey, been able to find some  accommodation for all its displaced persons, while Azerbaijan, with a  population of seven million, with no earthquake and no blockade, and massive  oil revenues, been unable to find comparable accommodations for its displace  people. What has Azerbaijan done with the international money made available  for the displaced?"

The speaker unequivocally stated that the demands by Azerbaijan for the  return of the historic Armenian city of Shushi, and Lachin "cannot be  seriously considered" by the Karabagh Armenians. Rating the efforts of the  OSCE Minsk group to achieve consensus so far as a "failure," she reiterated  that the Armenia and Karabagh have been prepared to make important  concessions, such as "foregoing claims for the independence of Karabagh, and  discussing the return of occupied territories." 

She stressed that the Karabagh Armenians, "as the people most directly  involved in the situation, and most affected by the outcomes of any  agreement, need to have a place at the negotiating table, and be part of any  finally agreed solution." And for the Armenians of Karabagh, security is a  key issue, following their fearful history with Azeri-Turkish policies, the  lost of Western Armenia, the total eviction of Armenians from Nakhichevan,  including the destruction of their historic churches and monuments, the  deportations from the historic Armenia villages in Karabagh and Shahumyan,  and the courageous efforts to prevent wholesale eviction from Karabagh.

These issues, she concluded, "must be recognized in any attempts by the  international community to achieve a political solution which can have any  hope of bringing peace with justice to a region where so many thousands of  people, both Armenians and Azeris, are still suffering."
© Mirror Spectator, sept  2002
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