Victorian Greens join SEKA in objecting to Parliamentary Friends of Azerbaijan group

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The Victorian Greens party has joined its voice alongside SEKA Victoria in outlining its concerns about the establishment of a new Parliamentary Friends of Azerbaijan group initiated by Natalie Suleyman MP and David Southwick MP. 

The Victorian Greens said in a statement on Wednesday, June 19 that they were concerned about the formation of the new parliamentary friendship group because it risks “legitimising the action of the state of Azerbaijan that has been accused of a blockade and the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian people.”

“1.5 million Armenians and 1 million Greek and Assyrian people were killed in a genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire beginning in 1915. The genocide was a grave crime against humanity and the Victorian Greens pay tribute to the memory of the victims,” the statement reads.

“In recent times, the Armenian community has continued to suffer gravely because of the actions of the state of Azerbaijan against the Armenian community in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabkah). The recent blockade, attack and forced displacement of Armenians from the region resulted in the inaugural prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stating that there is a reasonable basis to believe that a genocide is being committed.”

In light of the growing international concern about the actions of the state of Azerbaijan, the Victorian Greens urged others members of parliament not to attend an inaugural Parliamentary Friends of Azerbaijan meeting on Wednesday night. The party said “it could send a message of endorsement of the actions of the state of Azerbaijan.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan have already fought two wars over Karabakh in the three decades
Armenia and Azerbaijan have already fought two wars over Karabakh in the three decades.

This statement by the Victorian Greens comes after SEKA Victoria’s President Pavlos Andronikos sent a letter to Victorian MPs on Tuesday, expressing the Greek and Cypriot Australian community’s concerns around the formation of the group.

In his letter, Mr Andronikos said Azerbaijan’s unprovoked attack eight months ago, which forced all Armenians in Artsakh to flee, compounded by crimes like occupying 215 square kilometers of territory within the sovereign borders of Armenia, desecrating religious and cultural heritage, and mistreating prisoners of war, makes “any attempt to establish such a forum reprehensible.”

“Attendance and participation in such a forum would send an inappropriate message, legitimising the crimes of Azerbaijan,” Mr Andronikos stressed.

“Each of you, as elected members, must take a principled stand and send a message to Azerbaijan that you will not allow the crimes of Azerbaijanis against indigenous Armenians and your own citizens to go unanswered.

“We, as Victorians and citizens of a free and democratic state, must stand with the people of Armenia as they endure one of the darkest chapters in their modern history. We can do better. We must do better.”

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