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The community meets the Swiss Foreign Minister, calling for a strong commitment to Armenians

Press Release - 25 October 2023

PR delegation from the Armenian community meets the Swiss Foreign Minister, calling for a
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On 20 October 2023, a delegation from Switzerland's Armenian community met with Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Also present at the meeting were Ambassador Muriel Peneveyre and Ignazio Cassis' personal advisor, Mr. Cédric Stucky.

The delegation appreciated the warm and high-level welcome they received, and in particular the indication that the Confederation's humanitarian aid to the refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh will be up to the task, in keeping with Switzerland's humanitarian tradition.

The FDFA reiterated its three priorities following the attack on Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan on 19 September 2023: a) the need for a ceasefire b) the need for humanitarian access to Nagorno-Karabakh c) the need for a return to peace negotiations.

The delegation stressed that while these points are necessary, they are not sufficient. Switzerland must qualify Azerbaijan's 19 September 2023 aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh as a crime against humanity, and condemn Azerbaijan for the ethnic cleansing that followed, after an illegal and inhumane blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh lasting over 9 months. It stressed the grave threats of invasion hanging over the Republic of Armenia on the eve of military exercises by Turkey and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan (23-25 October 2023), both of which bypass southern Armenia. Switzerland is not neutral in this conflict, and its financial links with SOCAR, Azerbaijan's state-owned oil company with a strong presence in Switzerland, raise questions: nearly 37 billion USD a year in revenues are generated in our country, contributing to the armament of Azerbaijan.

The Federal Councillor thanked the delegation and acknowledged the urgency of the situation, while stressing that the sovereignty of Armenian territory must be respected. However, Azerbaijan already occupies over 200 km2 of Armenia's sovereign territory. For the delegation, Switzerland must support Armenian democracy more clearly in the face of the autocratic regime in Baku, as part of a diplomacy of prevention. Before such an invasion, Switzerland must be ready to take robust action as part of active preventive diplomacy, and not hesitate to condemn Azerbaijan's violation of international law, as it did with its aggression against Ukraine, condemning Russia and applying sanctions against it.

The delegation also added:

● that a right of return for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to their ancestral homeland would be illusory without the presence on the spot of UN peacekeepers, while Azerbaijan has a state policy of armenophobia. Insisting on the need for Azerbaijan to respect human rights and minorities is therefore not enough;

● the need for a more assertive Swiss commitment to saving the Armenian cultural and architectural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh, the cradle of Armenian civilization. Switzerland could support the European Parliament's resolution of 5 October 2023, which insists that Azerbaijan authorize a UNESCO mission and give it access to the heritage sites of Nagorno-Karabakh in order to carry out an inventory ;

● the need for Switzerland to adopt sanctions against Baku. The same resolution calls on the European Union and its member states to adopt targeted sanctions against members of the Azerbaijani government responsible for the multiple ceasefire and human rights violations in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Natural resources and economic interests must not take precedence over human rights. Switzerland, as a member of the UN Security Council, must actively engage in diplomacy worthy of its values.

Delegation of the Swiss Armenian community :

Lerna Bagdjian - Secretary of the Union Arménienne de Suisse, President of the Geneva section of the Young Professionals of the AGBU (Armenian General Benevolent Union)

Alexis Krikorian - Director of the Hyestart association

Marlyne Sahakian - Member of the Union Arménienne de Suisse

Sarkis Shahinian - Co-president of the Association Suisse Arménie

Contact :

Lerna Bagdjian

Secretary Union Arménienne de Suisse (UAS) - +4179.482.83.45

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