Speech of George Katrougalos in the Debate: The progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure (January-December 2022) – Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, 26-1-2023


Thank you very much, Mister Chairman.

When we were discussing the situation in Kosovo, I mentioned the old saying that the Balkans have been the powdered keg of Europe. The Caucasus risks being another area that could be explosive in the years to come for similar reasons: the existence of minorities and disputed territories. We are not discussing here, of course, the geopolitical aspects of the conflict, just the humanitarian ones. We must have in mind that in all situations, respect for international legality and what has been already agreed upon are fundamental.

Here we also have the particularity that the facts are also disputed. The Azeri side denies that is obligated. It is not meaningful to discuss if we do not have an agreement to the facts. Here I think that we can easily agree to the fact that the blockade exists. The possibility of some vehicles of the Red Cross carrying some patients in a life-threatening situation does not mean that the corridor is open. The proof of that is that all sides that have a possibility to have a direct, let’s say, understanding of the situation, like the United States or France, have already condemned this blockade.

Our rapporteur has reminded us of this harsh criticism of the American foreign minister who cannot be accused of being one-sided or that he wants to promote the national ideas of one or the other side. We have again, as previous speakers have said, also allegations that other aspects that guarantee a normal life to the citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh, like the provision of gas and electricity, are now blocked.

My proposal is to endorse what the European Parliament has already endorsed. First of all, to condemn the blockade. It is self-evident. Then, to ask all parties, especially now Azerbaijan –because it is the party who seems not to implement the trilateral statement of the 9 November 2020– to fully respect it.

Also, to ask both parties not just to demonstrate restraint but also to respect international legality fully. What has been agreed until now, for instance, the statement of the MINSK group co-chairs of the 15 November and also this organisation can be a forum of reconciliation and not just a confrontation between the two countries involved.

Thank you.