10/03/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/03/2023 15:23
Speech delivered by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell
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President, Honourable Members.
Thank you for raising this crucial topic at the European Parliament Plenary today.
The European Union is closely following the worrying developments in Karabakh, and remains engaged at the highest level to help alleviate the humanitarian impact on civilians.
The European Union has condemned Azerbaijan's use of force in Nagorno-Karabakh against its earlier assurances and commitment to seek a diplomatic solution. The use of force over diplomacy is never justified.
As of this weekend, more than 100,000 Karabakh Armenians have left their homes and sought refuge in Armenia. It remains unclear how many will remain in Nagorno-Karabakh. The European Union expects Azerbaijan to address the needs of Karabakh Armenians that remain on the territory of Azerbaijan and provide them with the necessary humanitarian assistance and security. Those who fled to Armenia need to be able to return to their homes in safety. Their cultural heritage and property rights also need to be ensured and protected by Azerbaijan.
The European Union has stressed that there is a pressing need for transparency and access for international humanitarian and human rights actors.
We support the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and we are awaiting the findings of the United Nations mission visiting Karabakh.
It is urgent to ensure continuous unimpeded humanitarian support both to those who are still in Karabakh and to those who have left for Armenia.
The European Commission has announced additional funding of €5 million to those in need. We are working closely with the Government agencies of both Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as with our local partners, so [that] the basic needs of Karabakh Armenians in both countries are covered - including food, hygiene items and shorter-term shelter. Thereafter, the financial assistance, housing and socio-economic assistance has to be provided.
We welcome that Armenia has activated the Union Civil Protection Mechanism. The European Union and its Member States stand ready to provide humanitarian assistance in line with identified needs.
As expressed by the Council rotating Presidency, it remains crucial that Armenia and Azerbaijan return to dialogue and show positive steps towards border delimitation, security, connectivity, humanitarian issues, and the broader peace treaty.
Concrete action and decisive compromise solutions are needed on all tracks of this normalisation process - coupled with genuine efforts from all those involved. The European Union stands ready to support this process.
Link to the video (starting from 4:30): https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-246865
Hearing this whole debate, a number of very important aspects have been raised about this extremely complex conflict. Let me just - in ending - say a few words, starting by reiterating again that the European Union has condemned Azerbaijan's use of military force against the Armenian population in Nagorno-Karabakh.
As I have mentioned, as many of you have mentioned, a mass exodus of the Karabakh Armenians has taken place and this is as a result of Azerbaijan's recent attacks and of the previous months-long blockage of the Lachin corridor.
The European Union remains actively engaged, both in addressing immediate humanitarian needs, and of course in making every effort to take this peace effort forward.
The European Union has stressed that there is a pressing need for transparency and access for humanitarian aid needs and human rights actions.
With regards to the possibility of resorting to sanctions, as raised by some Members of this Parliament, allow me to recall that restrictive measures are only one of the tools at the European Union's disposal, and it remains for the Council to decide - by unanimity.
In the meantime, we will continue supporting all efforts on the normalisation process.
Link to the video (starting from 18:17:29): https://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/vod.html?mode=chapter&vodLanguage=EN&internalEPId=1696344649591&providerMeetingId=2f51e2a7-69da-4801-e973-08dbbe783c02#