Letter to Gerry Sutcliffe on return of Azerbaijani refugees to Nagorno-Karabakh 24 October 2013

Dear Mr Sutcliffe

I read with interest the article in which you were quoted by the Azerbaijani press about your views on the return of the Azerabaijani refugees from the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

“British MP: IDP’s return home should be a priority for international community”

You mention that you have seen “close to one million displaced Azerbaijanis”. Any analysis of the official census records at the time will establish that this is a gross overstatement, and also includes the 360,000 Armenians that were displaced from Azerbaijan. Do you have an independent survey that substantiates the figure of 1 million people?

Note:In the interview you refer to, just the 7 surrounding regions, and not the original Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, or Armenia. The census records from the USSR state, clearly, that the population of Azerbaijanis was 363,588 for those regions.

I recognise that you were a member of the APPG on Azerbaijan and have been to Azerbaijan ( I believe, funded by Azerbaijan) however I would expect that a UK MP would have a responsibility to be neutral in this situation, and not not promote one country’s propaganda.

A few questions I would like to ask:

1. You mention territorial integrity – what is your view on the self-determination rights of the people of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic?

2. Have you visited NKR to see a different perspective of this situation?

3. How do you expect that the return of hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis into an Armenian populated area would work – especially given the animosity/suspicion between the 2 peoples?

– Do you believe that this is in the interests of all of the people, or the politicians?
– Would you expect this to happen totally peacefully? Over what time?
– Would you expect Azerbaijanis to return to Shushi, Khojaly, Stepanakert, and the villages in the original NKAO?
– How do you see 50,000+ people returning to Aghdam when there are no buildings to return to?

4. When you saw the refugees in Azerbaijan – were you convinced that the Government had done their best to provide good accommodation for them ( recognising the $billions they receive from oil, and the amount that they spend on military equipment)? Armenia and NKR are much poorer countries and they have integrated the refugees into their communities.

I have visited NKR on 9 occasions and have done much research into the situation. I am unable to visit Azerbaijan as the Government has declared me persona non grata for visiting NKR without their “permission”. This is not a question of being pro-Armenian, or pro-Azeri – this is about how does a difficult situation get resolved without further loss of life . Political rhetoric about re-patriating “1 million” people as though they were pawns on a chess board does not help the people who are most likely to lose their lives as a result of this action – and this will not be the people who you met in Baku, but will be the many people who I have met on many occasion in NKR!

I trust that you already considered your answers to these basic questions I have raised before giving your quote to the Azerbaijani press?

I look forward to your response

Russell Pollard

Categories: Letters

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