Response from Chris Pincher (Twitter) – to my letter dated 5 June Chris Pincher Chair APPG – Azerbaijan
1.Read your careful words but reference to living in land of the enemy suggests believe NK/territories Armenian. UN disagrees.
2.Difficult to verify but NK population = 140,000 so room for displaced Azerbaijanis to return to their homeland.
3. Non NK occupied land only has 40,000 inhabs – Armenia expelled pop. So most IDPs could return – unless Armenia refuses.
Taking your points in order:
1. The current situation in the area whether it is accepted, or otherwise, is that the 7 surrounding regions are under the control of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and Armenian people are living in those lands. Prior to the resolution of the conflict, which presumably would mean that this situation will not change until then, then encouraging Azerbaijanis to return to these lands does not make sense at an individual level. If all sides agree a position which returns these lands to a state where they are controlled by Azerbaijan then the issue still remains as to the ethics of re-patriating large numbers of people into an area where there is much animosity and suspicion between people. It is not right for the international community to create another “Northern Ireland”, “Palestine”, or “Bosnia” – these are only ever short-term stop-gaps.
For those Azerbaijani people who are IDP’s from Shushi, Khojaly, Stepanakert, or the villages within the original NKAO borders (~40,000). I fail to see how their return will be in the best interests of them, individually, or the resident Armenians. The only people who will be satisfied will be the Azeri politicians.
2. The current NKR population is widely reported as in the region of ~150,000. You are right – if this is simply a case of putting people on green land, then there is plenty of space in NKR for many more people than 150,000. Once again, this sounds like a politician’s perspective and not one that considers the humanitarian issues on both sides.
3. As above – the return of IDP’s is not an issue of land space.
I’m not clear on your expectation for the Azeri refugees from the Republic of Armenia – should they have the right to return home?
I don’t know whether you have visited NKR at all – I have, on many occasions. A good proportion of the people who are trying to make a future of their position were not born, or were very small chidren in the early 1990’s, and they have a right to a peaceful future. For the vast majority of the people who fought during the war, they were just ordinary people defending themselves in the villages where they lived- and now, they just want to have a peaceful existence. This is not about “lines on maps” which indulges the ego of politicians – but about real people with real lives…..which is why I am so interested in the practical answer to how “875,000” people would return.
I do feel that discussing the movements of people as though they are pawns in a chess-game as slightly cynical and distasteful – and massively over-simplifies the resolution to this complex situation.