BRUSSELS—Azerbaijan’s latest attempt at misinformation backfired this week when Gisela Kallenbach (Germany), a Member of the European Parliament, distanced herself from an exhibition sponsored by the Aliyev Foundation to “commemorate the Khojaly events.”
Kallenbach was initially a sponsor of the exhibition, yet came out against it after being contacted by the European Armenian Federation and other voices of European public opinion. In her welcoming remarks, Kallenbach said she regretted the exhibition did not include pictures of the victims of the anti-Armenian pogroms in Sumgait (Azerbaijan) in 1988, before taking one minute of silence in memory of the victims of all the conflicts of the South Caucasus. She implicitly criticized Azeri actions, saying the exhibition “could be used in order to destroy the promising and recent process of reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan”—”absolutely not” her intention.
According to various sources, Kallenbach had been misinformed by officers of her political group directly financed by the Aliyev Foundation, and quickly left the event.
“We congratulate Mrs. Kallenbach for her courage and bravery” declared Hilda Tchoboian, the chairperson of the European Armenian Federation. “It is clear that the Khojaly commemorations organized everywhere in Europe and in the United States are part of the political war rhetoric being used by Azeri leaders who aim to prevent the resolution of the conflict by historical revisionism, while masking their own crimes.”
Azerbaijan has recently stepped-up its efforts to have the international community characterize what occurred in Khojaly in 1992 as a “war crime”—even “genocide.” Yet, photos presented at this event were taken in Kosovo—and not Khojaly—and some in Azerbaijan have said that the Khojaly campaign was spearheaded by the Aliyev clan against the former Mutalibov regime, to discredit it and seize power.
In stark contrast, the pogroms against the Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, and Kirovabad, recalled by Kallenbach, were a direct response by Azeris to the peaceful process begun by the Armenian population of Karabagh—which had, in accordance with the Soviet constitution in place at the time, requested their unification to Armenia. These pogroms sparked the Karabagh war.
At the time, the European Parliament strongly criticized the actions of Azerbaijan toward its Armenian population, highlighting in various resolutions (available by visiting www.eafjd.eu) “the blockade and the aggression of Azerbaijan,” “the 300,000 Armenian refugees who fled the pogroms,” the murders of Armenians perpetrated “in horrific circumstances,” “the economic blockade of Armenia,” “the unprecedented attack against the Armenians of Karabagh,” and their “right to self-determination.”
“Taking into consideration the serious incriminations that the European Parliament and the international community charged against Azerbaijan, for the first time, the Azeri propaganda machine failed in its efforts to use the European Assembly as a springboard to spread its falsified interpretation of history,” said Tchoboian.
“The abusive exploitation by Azerbaijan of the Karabagh conflict, to justify the war rhetoric and racist language of his leaders toward Armenia and the Armenians, will have to be condemned by the European Union, which has a real interest with the establishment of lasting peace in the area,” Tchoboian continued.
According to the European Armenian Federation, the Azeri regime has repeatedly tried to discredit the OSCE Minsk Group. Despite these attempts, the European Parliament has constantly affirmed its confidence in the Minsk Group, which takes into account the right to self-determination of the people of Karabagh in compliance with international legal principles.