FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2017
Contact: Sevag Belian (613) 235-2622
Ottawa – Despite continuous efforts by Azerbaijani authorities to discourage foreign diplomats, parliamentarians and observers from visiting the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh/NKR), former Canadian parliamentarian, the Honourable Jim Karygiannis will be visiting Artsakh in the upcoming week to serve as an international observer in the republic’s constitutional referendum that is set to be held on February 20, 2017.
A long-time supporter of Artsakh’s independence and its people’s right to self-determination, Mr. Karygiannis is visiting Artsakh at the request of the Armenian National Committee of Canada. Previously and as recent as 2012, Mr. Karygiannis led a team of Canadian Election Observers for the presidential election in the Republic of Artsakh. In a statement released after the elections, he explicitly stated; “It was a picture-perfect election from start to finish and witnessing the election process in a new democracy was a positive learning experience. I also met with government officials, residents of Nagorno Karabakh and members of the Canadian Diaspora who were visiting and learned more about the challenges facing this Artsakh”.
A historically undisputed Armenian land that has a history of over 5000 years, Artsakh was gifted to Azerbaijan in 1921 by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, as an ill-conceived gesture to Turkey. At the wake of the Soviet Union’s decline in power, on September 2, 1991, the people of Artsakh declared independence from the Soviet Union and established the Republic of Artsakh. On December 10, 1991, Artsakh held an independence referendum in which 99% voted for independence. In response, Azerbaijan launched an all-out war against the newly formed republic, targeting ordinary civilians, women and children.
Despite the Internationally brokered ceasefire in 1994, Azerbaijan has steadily violated the terms and conditions of the bilateral agreement, and on multiple occasions, it has carried out unsanctioned attacks against Artsakh.
In spite of all the hardships that are prevalent today, for the past 25 years, Artsakh has nonetheless stood as a beacon of democracy, freedom and development. While breaking new grounds economically, socially and politically, it has continued to maintain a world-renowned reputation in advancing its commitment to peace, stability and prosperity in the South Caucasian region.
Mr. Karygiannis’ timely visit to Artsakh is yet another indication that the young republic is a democratic and a fully functioning state, with a thriving market economy and an active civil society, that is striving to achieve its freedom and the formal recognition of its independence.
The ANCC is the largest and the most influential Canadian-Armenian grassroots human rights organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout Canada and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCC actively advances the concerns of the Canadian-Armenian community on a broad range of issues and works to eliminate abuses of human rights throughout Canada and the world.