Chingiz Asgarov: ECHR judgment reflects facts of ethnic cleansing and Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani territories - INTERVIEW

Chingiz Asgarov: ECHR judgment reflects facts of ethnic cleansing and Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani territories - <span style="color: red;">INTERVIEW
# 19 June 2015 13:31 (UTC +04:00)

- What are advantages of the judgment on the case “Chiragov and others v. Armenia” passed by the ECHR Grand Chamber for Azerbaijan?

- The ECHR judgment is a legal document reflecting a legal obligation. This is the first court judgment that proves and confirms the fact of Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani territories. According to the ECHR judgment, Armenia bears full responsible for all cases of violation of human rights in Azerbaijan's occupied territories. It also reflects the fact of ethnic cleansing. The judgment says that not a single Azerbaijani was left in those areas, Muslims and non-Armenians were expelled from the territories as a result of ethnic cleansing. Thus, the ECHR judgment is of great importance for Azerbaijan, and it will be used as a legally binding document in international negotiations.

- How important is this judgment in terms of restoration of the rights of internally displaced persons who filed the lawsuit “Chiragov and others v Armenia”? Does the judgment cover restoration of property and other rights of these people and paying for their damages?

- The ECHR judgment confirms the rights of these people for returning their homes, living in their lands and using their properties. On the other hand, the ECHR will also consider the payment of compensations. Current judgment shows that the amount of compensation to be given to six IDPs by the government of Armenia should be determined in the next stage. New judgment approves the issues of moral compensation, right of the IDPs to return to their homes, as well as financial compensation for their being deprived of property right and sufferings, and determining the compensation. In the coming twelve months, the Armenian government either needs to reach an agreement with the IDPs or express its opinion to the ECHR. If Armenia and IDPs fails to come to an agreement, the ECHR will decide the amount of compensation that the Armenian government should pay to IDPs.

- Do other Azerbaijanis, who have been forces to leave their native lands as a result of the occupation, appeal to the ECHR?

- Initiatives have already been put forward in this regard, and the lawsuit filed by Chiragov’s was the first one. The judgment on the case “Chiragov and others v. Armenia” is a precedent. It has proven the responsibility of the Armenian government and the process of considering these lawsuits will be easier in the future.

- The ECHR has also passed a judgment on the case “Sargsyan and other v. Azerbaijan”. What are the possible negative sides of such a decision for Azerbaijan?

- I do think this judgment has any negative sides for Azerbaijan. This was the judgment we had been anticipating. The judgment deals with refugees’ rights to return to their homes. The ECHR has fully accepted our position that life conditions are zero in the Gulustan village of Goranboy, which is mentioned in the claim because the village is situated between Azerbaijani and Armenian armed forces. The village sits in the ceasefire zone. It’s impossible to create conditions for the villagers to live there. There will only be the determination of compensation for the restoration of the applicant’s property right. However, there is one more issue: That person had his property right cancelled in 1991. There have been fighting in the village, and there is no house remaining intact there. Because of this reason, I think the amount of compensation for this issue will not be that high.

- Do you believe the Armenians who left Baku, Sumgayit, Ganja and Azerbaijan’s other regions will not use it to put forth claims against Azerbaijan in future?

- No. Because, firstly, the Armenians left their homes in Baku and other districts until the 1990s. Secondly, those Armenians sold or donated their houses concluding contract mainly either with Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia or local residents of Baku and other districts. That was the legal process. Third, all these events happened before the Republic of Azerbaijan regained its independence. Therefore, Azerbaijan doesn’t bear any responsibility for it. Those persons cannot file lawsuits to the ECHR against the Republic of Azerbaijan.

- Some judges had dissenting opinions regarding the judgment on the case “Chiragov and others v. Armenia”. To what extent was it expected for Azerbaijan?

- There are a few dissenting opinions regarding the judgment. A dissenting opinion has no legal force, and is nothing more than a judge’s own position. 15 judges voted in favor and 2 against the judgments on both the cases of “Chiragov and others v. Armenia” and “Sargsyan and others v. Azerbaijan”. Those who are against the judgment expressed their dissenting opinions. For example, the Ukrainian judge expressed a dissenting opinion regarding the ECHR judgment on the case “Sargsyan and others v. Azerbaijan”. According to his opinion, as Gulustan village is located between two armed forces, the Republic of Armenia should be prosecuted. However, the ECHR judgment doesn’t include it. He noted that as the judgment on the case “Chiragov and others v. Armenia” reflected Armenia’s being prosecuted in the occupied territories, Armenia should also be prosecuted on the case “Sargsyan and others v. Azerbaijan”. This is a dissenting opinion of the Ukrainian judge, and I think it is absolutely fair. A Portuguese judge also expressed his opinion on the case “Chiragov and others v. Armenia”, and this is the expression of the words that Armenians talked about everywhere regarding the self-determination of peoples. The Portuguese judge tries to prove his opinion that as if this law is raised to a high level, so each nation can determine their own destiny, and this issue is not within the jurisdiction of the ECHR and should be resolved in international organizations via negotiations. This is a position contrary to law and supports Armenians’ position.

Nagorno Garabagh