Azerbaijan opts for Red Crescent's helping hand
    ...throwing off "deaf and blind" ICRC to oblivion

    ANALYTICS  24 August 2023 - 11:31

    Matanat Nasibova
    Caliber.Az

    Due to the fact that Armenians continue to ignore the Aghdam-Khankendi road proposed by Azerbaijan as an alternative for the transportation of humanitarian and other goods to the temporary responsibility zone of the RMK and are still promoting an anti-Azerbaijani slanderous campaign about the situation on the Lachin road, the Azerbaijani Red Crescent Society issued a statement adopted at an expanded meeting of the organization's Governing Council. The document says that the Azerbaijani Red Crescent is ready with the participation of its employees and volunteers to support the delivery of any humanitarian cargo, necessary foodstuffs, medicines, drugs, clothes, etc. to the residents of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan of Armenian origin on the Aghdam-Khankendi road.

    The statement emphasises that for more than 100 years, since 1920, the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society, being a part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, has been guided by its seven fundamental principles. These include, in particular, the observance of neutrality, impartiality, and unity in providing necessary humanitarian assistance to war victims, refugees and internally displaced persons, mine victims, and others in need of sympathy and support irrespective of their religious beliefs, nationality, and political views. It is also mentioned that the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society worked closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in providing humanitarian assistance to the victims of both the First Karabakh War and the Patriotic War.

    However, the key point of the statement is that an unsubstantiated campaign has recently been launched about the alleged urgent need to meet the humanitarian needs of Armenians living in the Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as they "lack food, medicine, and basic necessities". Without entering into polemics on the veracity of such a statement, the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society declares its readiness, in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to support the delivery of any humanitarian cargo to the Armenian residents of Karabakh on the Aghdam-Khankendi road.

    The red line in the document indicates that the implementation of this humanitarian mission fully complies with the requirements of the national legislation, the Geneva Conventions and their supplements, as well as the amendment of 2022 to the Seville Agreement adopted in 1997, according to which the leading role in the implementation of humanitarian aid is assigned to national societies.

    It should be recalled that the ICRC's appearance in Azerbaijan was facilitated by Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijani territories in the 1990s, as a result of which a real humanitarian catastrophe broke out in Azerbaijan due to the appearance of one million refugees and IDPs. In accordance with the additions to the Seville Agreement of 1997, the Red Cross and Red Crescent organisations were supposed to carry out their activities in the country in a coordinated manner. However, as practice has shown, a very different situation has been and is being observed: the Red Cross offices in both Baku and Khankendi have failed to liaise with the Red Crescent Society, which contributes to certain problems in their activities. Accordingly, official Baku is entitled to demand from the ICRC that its activities be carried out in agreement with the Azerbaijani side and in accordance with the rules it has established on its sovereign territory.

    Azerbaijan calls on the International Committee of the Red Cross to implement a logistical scheme for travelling through the territory, which has been developed by its specialists and is more efficient than the previous one. Moreover, the change in the route is in no way contrary to international legal norms. And since the ICRC continues to ignore the provision introduced by our country on absolutely legal grounds, Baku is entitled to choose an alternative option of providing the Karabakh Armenians with everything they need, namely through the Azerbaijani Red Crescent. As for the basis of such a decision, firstly, Azerbaijan is a self-sufficient country and can do without the involvement of the Red Cross in this mission. Secondly, if the ICRC is really interested in solving humanitarian issues, why should the Red Cross office in Khankendi be subordinated to the Yerevan office and not to the Baku office? And why should the logistical activities of the Red Cross in Karabakh be carried out from the territory of Armenia? That is, it will come to Azerbaijan from outside, while the country itself can compensate for all the material shortcomings of its population. If, as Yerevan claims and the Red Cross echoes, they exist.

    This indisputable argument was also cited, incidentally, by President Ilham Aliyev in his August interview with the Euronews TV channel, pointing out the unacceptability of the fact that the ICRC office in Karabakh still reports not to the Baku but to the Yerevan directorate of the organisation.

    "Unfortunately, until now their office in Karabakh is still subordinated not to the Baku but to the Yerevan directorate of the committee. This is unacceptable, as the whole world recognises Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. Even the Prime Minister of Armenia has repeatedly said that Karabakh is Azerbaijan. We have the right to legitimately ask why the Khankendi branch of the Red Cross Committee is subordinated not to the Baku, but to the Yerevan office of the Committee?" the Azerbaijani leader said.

    Taking into account a number of facts cited both earlier and today, we can responsibly assert that the ICRC pursues a biased policy in solving humanitarian problems, adhering exclusively to the pro-Armenian line. This is confirmed by the inaction of this structure in the search for missing persons of Azerbaijani nationality, although when the same problem concerns Armenians, the ICRC demonstrates remarkable awareness, efficiency, and persistence. But what happened to almost 4,000 Azerbaijanis who went missing during the First Karabakh War in the Azerbaijani lands occupied by Armenian troops is of no concern to the ICRC. In fact, this international structure should adhere to an impartial, neutral position, its goals and objectives should be exclusively humanitarian in nature. However, we observe notorious double standards and discrimination on national, religious, and other grounds in the ICRC's actions.

    Azerbaijan must oppose this, restore justice, and therefore regularly raises the issue of missing Azerbaijanis on various international platforms and rigorously keeps this problem at its centre of attention. However, what is important for us is not formal, if to say pretense, understanding, and sympathy of the international community, but real results, real actions. For example, in the pressing issue of our compatriots who went missing during the First Karabakh War and the places of their mass graves. In October last year, the President of Azerbaijan, speaking at the session of the Sixth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CIICA), once again called on Armenia to provide Azerbaijan with information on the fate of the citizens missing during the First Karabakh War, as well as to inform about the places of mass graves.

    "We have been requesting this information for almost two years, but official Yerevan refuses to share the data, thus associating itself with the criminal leaders of previous regimes in Armenia," Aliyev said, noting that most of the missing were tortured by Armenia, killed and buried in mass graves.

    However, as is known, to this day Armenia refuses to provide this information to Azerbaijan, and the Red Cross is passive and indifferent in this regard. Therefore, we can safely state that all these facts are a strong argument for Azerbaijan's demands to transfer the functions of the ICRC to the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society.

    Caliber.Az

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