Armenia should have expected Lapshin’s extradition – political scientist

14:02 • 08.02.17



In an interview with Tert.am, political scientist Styopa Safaryan spoke of steps that could follow the handover of blogger Alexander Lapshin to Azerbaijan. Among his proposals is stripping the Armenian ambassador to Belarus of his diplomatic status and thinking of severing diplomatic relations with Belarus. 

Mr Safaryan, Alexander Lapshin has been handed over to Azerbaijan. Are there any diplomatic means to do anything?

I should say it should have been expected and the Armenian side should have been concerned over Azerbaijan’s desire to create favorable conditions for a raid on Nagorno-Karabakh. And active work should have been done. Yes, Lapshin did not expect Armenia to do anything, but one thing was clear: Armenia should have clearly seen that Azerbaijan and Belarus were overtly violating international law in that although the region [Nagorno-Karabakh] remain unrecognized, people enjoy a right to free movement and visiting Nagorno-Karabakh, and no national law could strip people of this right.

Well, what should Armenia do now? 

It should have been said long ago. But I am sure that our foreign office has never set itself such a task. So expecting requests to produce results without showing Alexander Lukashenko his own place – I do not think our foreign office ever set itself such a task. It is Nagorno-Karabakh that is in question, it is not Lapshin alone that is in question. The fact is that our strategic partner in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) that is violating international law. And now I think Armenia is faced with a serious problem to prevent a dangerous precedent for Nagorno-Karabakh. Numerous friends of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh were “blacklisted” by Azerbaijan for visiting Artsakh. By setting such a precedent, Azerbaijan is trying to prevent people from freely visiting Artsakh. 


Our Foreign Ministry described this prosecution against Lapshin as a disgraceful move. And nevertheless, should Yerevan have expected Lapshin’s handover to Baku?


In a way, [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko opened certain brackets earlier this year when he said that Russia and Israel – whose citizenship Lapshin simultaneously holds – were not enthusiastic at all to apply to them; yet, they had no other choice but to hand over Lapshin, who is practically “wanted” by the Interpol.


So was Lukashenko giving a warning that he would behave like Pontius Pilate, washing his hands of the process?


Yes, and he also made a second point, saying that that Azerbaijan, Israel and Belarus cooperate closely enough to agree [on such a plan]. So what we now see is the result of their agreement. And Russia, regrettably, - as the other home country of Lapshin - demonstrates an absolutely neutral behavior, not hampering the process. I remember Lapshin crying out [for help] from his isolation ward earlier this year (together with his girlfriend) and saying that they send letters to the Russian and Israeli consuls, but none of them visited him. I don’t think Lapshin is now under threat, so I believe his only choice at the moment is to apologize to Aliyev for visiting Artsakh. He will have to do that to be in freedom.

You said that all this is for barring the entry to those who have visited Artsakh. Among them, however, we know such world-famous opera singers as  Montserrat Coballe and Lyubov Kazarnovskaya. Are they also going to face prosecution now?

 

Practically, that’s what Azerbaijan wants, i.e.- to make pointless any visit to Artsakh and impart a certain [legal] effect to its ridiculous list which is never seriously treated by the world. I am now confident that this fuss will produce a certain impact – be it though not with a 100% effect. So Aliyev kind of created a precedent in the countries where he has a certain clout. Aliyev, certainly, is too minute a figure to apply to the Interpol for Monserat Coballe, yet Azerbaijan is trying to create precedents with those countries and in relation to those people it has power over.

 

Anush Dashtents





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