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May 29
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Azerbaijan should at least promise autonomy so that Armenians can return to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), international law expert Ara Ghazaryan stated during a discussion at the American University of Armenia.

Recalling the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decision and the temporary revoking of the mandate of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, the lawyer emphasized that the universal law applies to Armenians expelled from Azerbaijan, both between 1988 and 1991 as well as later, during the last Azerbaijani military aggression and total de-Armenianization of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ghazaryan said that experts come to the conclusion that the return of Armenian refugees to Nagorno-Karabakh has the jurisdiction of customary law, especially since Azerbaijan has not said and cannot say that these refugees do not have the right to return.

"Of course, we know that Baku is a hypocrite and says one thing for the internal audience and another for the external audience," the lawyer added.

Reflecting on UN data, he noted that there are about 110 million refugees in the world, and about 3 to 4 million of them return to their places of residence every year, which means that the process is underway and there are mechanisms. So far, out of four dozen countries, only four countries have refused to ensure the return of refugees, said Ghazaryan.

The lawyer stressed that Azerbaijan should develop a whole system to ensure the safety of Armenians, in order to show the world its readiness to accept them; first of all, to abandon the politics of hatred. In other words, Azerbaijan should at least promise autonomy, which it is not ready for, Ghazaryan continued, adding that the situation in general is such that Azerbaijan will need decades to change its policy. According to Ghazaryan, this was successful in the Balkans because there was an international presence. But only Russia was represented in Nagorno-Karabakh, which is why this was not possible, Ghazaryan believes.

The lawyer emphasized the inalienable right of the people of Artsakh to return to their homes because Nagorno-Karabakh is their homeland, bears many traces of Armenian cultural presence, and the Armenians of Artsakh have material rights as well to the rest of their property.

Speaking about Azerbaijan's demand to withdraw mutual lawsuits in international courts, the lawyer explained it with Armenia's successes.

"Our compatriots left state property, companies, many private properties in Nagorno-Karabakh," Ghazaryan recalled. And as an example of embezzlement, the lawyer mentioned the nationalization of refugees' property by the Turkish authorities of Northern Cyprus, which the European Court of Human Rights considered illegal.

"The right of return is definitely specified by international law, and we should make use of it," Ara Ghazaryan concluded.

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