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EU Parliament accuses Baku of 'ethnic cleansing' in Nagorno-Karabakh

Weapons, military vehicles and equipment surrendered by Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh are displayed in Signag village, Azerbaijan, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023.
Weapons, military vehicles and equipment surrendered by Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh are displayed in Signag village, Azerbaijan, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. Copyright Aziz Karimov/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Aziz Karimov/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Kristina Harazim with AFP, AP
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The European Parliament approved a resolution saying it ''considers that the current situation amounts to ethnic cleansing and strongly condemns threats and violence committed by Azerbaijani troops.''

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EU legislators on Thursday accused Azerbaijan of carrying out "ethnic cleansing" against the Armenian residents of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and urged EU member states to impose sanctions on Baku.

Azerbaijan has rejected the claim and said it wants Armenians to stay.

Baku pledged to respect the rights of ethnic Armenians, however, most of the population fled after Azerbaijan took back the region in a lightning offensive last month.

The parliament urged the EU's 27 member states to "adopt targeted sanctions against individuals in the Azerbaijani government" over the assault and alleged human rights breaches in Nagorno-Karabakh.

They also called on the bloc "to reduce the EU dependency towards gas exports from Azerbaijan" and demanded Brussels review its relations with the country.

The resolution was approved by 491 legislators to nine, but the EU does not have to act on it.

European diplomats said that sanctions against Azerbaijan were not being considered, and action would likely only be taken if the situation deteriorates.

The EU increased imports of natural gas from Azerbaijan in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen signed a deal with Baku last year to more than double gas imports by 2027.

Meanwhile, the Azerbaijan State Security Service shared footage Thursday showing Arayik Harutyunyan, the former leader of the Karabakh region, being arrested.

Authorities in Azerbaijan arrested three other senior separatist figures on Tuesday after reclaiming control of the Armenian-populated breakaway region last month, a leading Azerbaijani news agency said.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a landlocked mountainous area in the South Caucasus.

It was claimed by Azerbaijan and Armenia after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 and has remained a point of tension ever since.

Journalist • Kristina Harazim

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