On the initiative of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) a delegation of the Belgian French-speaking Friendship circle with Artsakh visited the republics of Armenia and Artsakh from December 2 to 6.
The delegation was comprised of the member of the Brussels Parliament Emmanuel De Bock, major of Jette commune Hervé Doyen, journalist and former Senator Josy Dubié, former President of the Brussels Parliament Julie de Groote, former Senator and the coordinator of the Friendship group André du Bus.
The main purpose of the visit was conveying the friendship and solidarity of the members of the friendship circle to the people of Artsakh devastated after the war imposed on them by Azerbaijan, supported by Erdogan’s Turkey and his mercenaries. The participants of the delegation were deeply saddened to witness the painful and destructive consequences of the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression against the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh.
The delegation was accompanied by the EAFJD Executive director Heghine Evinyan, EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian and the representative of CDCA Belgium Peter Petrossian.
Upon the arrival in Artsakh on 3 December, the members of the delegation held meetings with political representatives of Nagorno Karabakh, in particular with the Deputy-minister of Foreign Affairs Felix Khachatryan, the Minister of Urban Construction Aram Sargsyan, members of the National Assembly from the Friendship group with Belgium, as well as with the municipal representatives of the town of Martuni, which had been particularly affected by the war.
During the meetings, the members of the delegation reiterated their commitment to the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh as the only means to reach a peaceful and lasting resolution to the conflict and properly guarantee the physical security of the people of Artsakh and their right to live a dignified life. The delegation also suggested its assistance in the reconstruction of a heavily affected school in Artsakh.
Members of the delegation were impressed to see how the people of Artsakh were carrying out the clean-up of the streets and the reconstruction of the sites damaged by the bombardment as well as the refurbishment of the affected schools.
“We are impressed by two things. First, the tragedy the refugee and displaced families are going through, some are still without news from their father, husband or son, for them the future remains dark and uncertain. Then the extraordinary resilience demonstrated by the population of Artsakh who has already started the reconstruction works without any complaint and in all dignity,” the coordinator of the Friendship group André du Bus said.
The delegation also met with the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh Artak Beglaryan, who presented evidence and the details of violations of the international humanitarian law and war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani side, that include the use of prohibited arms against the civilian population of Artsakh and on civil infrastructures, namely churches, schools, hospitals, kindergartens and residential houses.
During the meeting with the representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross the questions related to the humanitarian aid, return of the refugees and issues of the return of the prisoners of war and the remnants of the Armenian servicemen that remain on the territories now controlled by Azerbaijan, which is deliberately delaying their return were discussed.
The delegation also visited and observed the damage caused to the maternity ward in Stepanakert, targeted by Azerbaijan as well as the destruction of residential areas in the towns of Martuni and Stepanakert. The participants also had an emotional exchange with refugees that returned from Armenia and internally displaced people from the regions of Hadrut and Shushi.
“After the visit of the member of the Belgian Federal Parliament Georges Dallemagne during the war and the Parliament’s voting on the resolution condemning the Azeri-Turkish aggression and calling for immediate retreat of the Azerbaijani forces from Artsakh, this visit of the Friendship circle is another powerful gesture from our Belgian friends in support of the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh. We hope to materialize this solidarity with aid on the ground aimed at improving even a little the post-war life of the people of Artsakh,” said EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian.