Jean-Paul Murman, Judge of Belgian Constitutional Court: It needs to set up an international foundation engaged in recovering losses of the persons displaced as a result of Nagorno Karabakh conflict – INTERVIEW

Jean-Paul Murman, Judge of Belgian Constitutional Court: It needs to set up an international foundation engaged in recovering losses of the persons displaced as a result of Nagorno Karabakh conflict – <font color=red>INTERVIEW </font>
# 26 April 2011 08:54 (UTC +04:00)
- Mr. Judge, you participated in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict-related conference, organized by the European Parliament, and made speech about state of Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs. How do you see the solution to this serious issue?

- I participated in this conference as an expert engaged in investigation the legal aspects of this issue, and not as a judge of the Constitutional Court of Belgium. Anyway, I am a lawyer and as a lawyer the legal issues, respect to human rights and fundamental freedoms of the individuals are very sensitive matter to me. I was in Azerbaijan several times, and besides Baku I departed for Sumgait, Jalilabad and other regions. Wherever I was, I got acquainted with tough state of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons. I closely inquired about their sad and hard conditions as well as the problems that they face. My first acquaintance with Azerbaijan was during participation in the conference on the Constitutional Courts, hosted in Baku by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. Then, I have observed elections in Azerbaijan a few times, especially the presidential elections and the referendum on changes and amendments to Azerbaijan’s Constitution. Just after those visits and real acquaintance with Azerbaijan, I indeed got in sympathy with this country. However, to be someone’s friend doesn’t mean to be other’s enemy. I am a Belgian and for Belgium Azerbaijan is a country located far away, and most of us don’t know Azerbaijan sufficiently. For example, prior to visit to Azerbaijan I didn’t know anything about this country. State of Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs has affected on me very much, especially in the dimension of this tragedy is very high. Every ninth person of the population has exiled from his own homeland.

As I’m a lawyer, I started getting interest in the legal sides of this issue, and I found out that internationally decisions and resolutions adopted by UN and other international organizations are not fulfilled. Because the inviolability of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan was included in these documents and provisions calling for withdrawal from the occupied territories are not respected. After a long-term war we are now talking about the frozen conflict, but it’s not frozen and it may re-ignite at any moment. The issues that I raise are not political and diplomatic ones at all, the situation of refugees and IDPs more humanitarian, human and individual rights-related issues. Speaking about refugees-related issue I would like to give my own recommendations. In other words, my proposal is that return of refugees and IDPs to their lands, recognized by international law, is their inalienable rights. Here, we are not talking about their ordinary return, and decent return. The most logical and correct solution of this is the simultaneous reimbursement. I mean, upon return to their homes, they all have to recover their loses. My suggestion is that, with regard to this issue, it needs to set up an international foundation engaged in carrying out these two missions. The foundation will be entitled to draw up the reports on the refugees and their heritable property and then to investigate the implementation of this in the locations.

Of course, I understand that at the present time this proposal may sound as utopian. Because, we are too far away from provision phase of individual rights, and generally in terms of the geopolitical plans the solution ways of the conflict have not been fully unveiled yet. But I think the solution of the conflict is not very far away. A prove of Azerbaijan’s huge step forward for solution of the conflict is that Azerbaijan makes statements in international arena not only about its territorial integrity but it also repeatedly makes statement on readiness to grant the highest autonomous status to Nagorno-Karabakh. This is outstretched by Azerbaijan hand. The second issue is appearance of the persons on the international tribune who are guilty for the tragedy of refugees and IDPs. The practice of establishment of the international courts for protection of the persons suffered due to the conflict exists across the world. In other words, the persons, who are account for these events and took part in the war crimes, they should answer for the crimes. Perhaps, currently it’s too early to raise the issue, but it should be outlined from now. Because people have been subjected to the massacre, many of them have lost their family members, for many years they continue to live in difficult conditions, and like elsewhere the responders of the conflict and tragedy must be unveiled and the truth should prevail. I don’t want to stress the nature of these sanctions, the main issue here is to reveal the truth. Azerbaijani and Armenian population can live together only when they have the clarity and transparency.

- At the current stage what kinds of legal mechanisms can Azerbaijan use for provision the rights of refugees and IDPs at the international level?

- I think, at the present stage, the individuals or organizations engaged in protection of refugees’ rights can appeal to international legal instances. However, if we pay attention to the current state of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, for now it’s in other form, it would be expedient to continue the activities within the diplomacy. This is one of the ways for reconciliation between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Let me note that, the legal decisions are like resolutions. I mean, there should be a political will for their realization and effectiveness. We are currently at the stage of negotiations.
At the same time, I think, it’d not be proper to put on the table all issues for making these negotiations possible. Everything has its time. However, it is possible to already develop these ideas and think about it. It would be good to increase the number of organizations protecting the rights of refugees and IDPs, and they should compile these individuals’ files in advance to calculate in the future the compensation for damages.

- Mr. Judge, in general how does Azerbaijan today appear in Belgium’s political circles, and ordinary people?

- Azerbaijan is known in Belgium not so much. Hard work should be done for it. The development of relations between two countries, increase a number of new established organizations targeted to closer convergence of two people. There is the inter-parliamentary friendship group between Azerbaijan and Belgium. I think, the number of meetings and contacts between the parliamentarians of both countries should be increased. In addition, the Azerbaijani embassy in Brussels should do the important works for convergence of two countries. It would be good to organize joint visits between ordinary people and especially between youth groups. By hosting distinctive exhibitions and events, Azerbaijan can demonstrate its cultural richness and potential to Belgians. For example, about 430 plants grow in Azerbaijan, which don’t exist in Belgium. I was very surprised when I learnt it. Your country is very rich one and some of your cities can be example for Belgium. Plus, with its beauty, nature and rich history Azerbaijan is distinctive part of the Caucasian region. Perhaps, in many cases we look from one angle, but in terms of variegation your distinctiveness can teach us a lot. For example, like many European countries Belgium is sensitive to the Armenian issue as well. But I think a democratic approach is to hear both sides.