Statement on the Armenian Church 19th November 2020
I was glad to put my name to this statement made by the Bishop of St Albans and others. The rights and property of the Armenian Church and her clergy should be protected and preserved in territory acquired by Azerbaijan in the recent conflict.
Members of the House of Lords reserve the right to hold conversations with interested parties in any given conflict and also reserve the right to hold opinions that differ from those of the official UK government position. The purpose of Baroness Cox’s visit was to deliver aid, in her capacity as the CEO of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, to refugees displaced by the war.
We are deeply concerned by the previous actions of President Aliyev of Azerbaijan including the pardoning and celebration of Ramil Safarov for the murder of Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Margaryan during a NATO-sponsored training seminar, which as outlined by Amnesty International,
‘signalled…that ethnic violence towards Armenians is not only acceptable but rewarded’,
and statements including
‘We will chase them like dogs and now we did’,
which undermines the Embassy’s own statement urging those interested in peace to avoid using language which may inflame tensions.
Without public guarantees on the physical preservation of all Armenian places of worship and religious houses in the territory they are moving into under the joint statement, and of the rights of Armenian clergy and religious communities to continue to run them and live in them, questions will be rightly raised as to the seriousness of Azerbaijan’s commitment to peace and security, particularly given the previous systematic erasure of centuries-old Armenian religious sites in the Azerbaijan enclave of Nakhchivan.
Members concerned with the actions and history of Azerbaijan towards Armenians will continue to monitor the situation and where applicable support the internationally recognised precedent for self-determination.
Lord Bishop of St Albans
Lord Alton of Liverpool