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 Thursday, April 11 2024 18:21
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Deportation or ethnic cleansing? US has no clear assessment of what  happened in Artsakh, Ambassador Kvien says

Deportation or ethnic cleansing? US has no clear assessment of what  happened in Artsakh, Ambassador Kvien says

ArmInfo.The United States continues to work to collect facts in connection with what happened  in Nagorno-Karabakh. The information received has not yet become a report, so there is nothing to report yet. US Ambassador to Armenia Kristina Kvien stated this in an interview with the RFE/RL's Armenian  Service when asked to tell whether the fact-finding report on Artsakh, which the State Department promised to prepare, is ready.

At the same time, she noted that the United States provides support  to those deported from Nagorno- Karabakh. "We were very concerned  about the safety and well-being of the people forced to flee Nagorno-  Karabakh into Armenia. And personally, I am very impressed by the  incredible support that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh has  received from the people of Armenia as a whole, and also, obviously,  from the government of Armenia. I have traveled all over Armenia and  since September have always talked with deportees from  Nagorno-Karabakh to find out what their needs are and then report on  this," the Ambassador said.

In this vein, she recalled that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken  said at a meeting in Brussels that since September Washington has  allocated about $7.5 million to support deportees and is considering  a number of steps.

"Firstly, it's psychological-social support. We're also trying to  support the younger generation. I've met several young refugees who  said they'd really like to learn English, and we're trying to take  advantage of some of the resources of our very active and generous  Diaspora in the United States. We are trying to find ways in which we  can support the organization of intensive English language courses  for young displaced people who may want to work in the service  sector, in the tourism sector and need knowledge of English to do so.   Another area that we are trying to focus on, and I know that the EU,  as well as our other donors, are doing quite a lot in this area, is  housing. The housing problem in Armenia is a long-term and complex  problem, since in many places the housing stock is already quite  meager. That's why we're working to support the development of  alternative housing so that displaced people can stay in their homes  longer. Getting temporary housing was very important when they were  here initially, but they are having to find more permanent housing,  and that is what we are trying to help the Armenian government and  other social services do. These are just some of the issues we've  been working on since September," Ambassador Kvien said.  When asked  to clarify whether the United States has a clear assessment of what  happened in Artsakh - deportation or ethnic cleansing, the Ambassador  admitted that there is no such assessment yet.  "No, we don't have  one. We had a team that interviewed and talked to the displaced  people, but they haven't made any statements yet. But I can say,  perhaps on the flip side of that, that according to international  law, those who have fled should be able to return and live in a safe  environment. The United States strongly supports the right of return,  and we are certainly willing to work with other international  organizations to try to see if we can find a way for them to return  to Karabakh at some point," the US Ambassador said.

When asked whether it can be considered that the issue of  Nagorno-Karabakh and its people is considered closed for the United  States, since the American side has stopped focusing on the right of  Artsakh people to return to their homes, Ambassador Kvien noted that  Washington does not consider this issue to be completely resolved.

"I would not say that we consider this issue to be completely  resolved. Obviously, there are many problems that have not been fully  resolved. And, as I said, we do support the right of return. However,  I must say that, having talked with quite a lot of refugees, we see  that they do not feel safe to return. It must be acknowledged that  they do not feel safe and the environment that would be needed for  them to come back and feel safe does not currently exist. This is one  of the reasons why we are focusing on supporting them here - for now  it is a more realistic option. But this does not mean that we are  ruling out such a possibility in the future, and we are very open to  cooperation with the international community and discussion ways to  solve this problem," the US Ambassador said.

Asked whether the US was going to require Aliyev to guarantee the  right of these people to a safe and dignified life in their homeland,  Ambassador Kvien suggested that if a solution was found to allow them  to return and feel safe, then the Azerbaijani government should take  a significant part in this. "I don't have an answer right now, but I  can say that we are certainly open to this conversation," she added.   Regarding the possibility of ensuring the preservation of the  cultural heritage of Artsakh, which is under threat of destruction  from Azerbaijan, Ambassador Kvien emphasized that the United States  strongly supports the preservation of cultural heritage in  Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas, and wherever such heritage is  known to exist. "We have also tried to talk to international  organizations that are directly involved in this issue to encourage  them to look into this issue. And, of course, our embassy in Baku  will likely play a leading role in finding ways to help," she  assured. 

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