October 4, 2020
The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St., Ottawa
ON, Canada, K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister,
On September 27, 2020, the Republic of Azerbaijan – with declarations of support from Turkey – launched a large-scale military offensive along the entire Line of Contact between the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan, targeting civilian settlements, including the capital of Artsakh, Stepanakert. It has been reported that Turkey now has direct military involvement in this conflict and has since deployed Syrian and Libyan mercenaries.
Turkey’s military involvement in the conflict between the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan, and explicit support of Azerbaijan’s cause exacerbates the situation and could be dangerous for the security of the entire region. Despite repeated calls from the international community, Turkey – an ally of Azerbaijan – has dismissed demands for a ceasefire. President Macron’s accusation that Turkey is sending Syrian jihadists to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh is cause for great concern, once again with broader implications for the region. Media spokespeople have recognized that the flare-up of this historic rivalry may elevate the region in terms of Turkey’s hegemonic territorial aims, thus heightening instability in the area. This represents a threat to global security that should not be minimized, considering Turkey’s ongoing territorial disputes in the Aegean Sea and clashes with Cyprus over oil and gas in Mediterranean waters, which present existing vulnerabilities in the region.
The consequences of this war extend beyond the conflict itself as ethnic cleansing and genocide are a real threat to Armenians of this region. Fears of genocide and ethnic cleansing in the region are augmented due to Turkey’s impunity for past crimes. As one scholar, Christoph H. Benedikter, has suggested, “… if war is allowed by the great powers in the region, it will result in mass atrocities and possible genocide against the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabach.” The reports of civilian casualties are a cause of concern for the international community. With a globally recognized commitment to peacekeeping and peacebuilding, Canada is uniquely positioned to condemn attacks on civilians and civilian objects, which represent clear violations of international humanitarian law.
As engaged Canadians, we believe Canada’s unique position affords the ability to call upon its NATO ally, Turkey, to immediately end its involvement in the conflict and to insist that the parties reinstate the ceasefire and return to peaceful efforts for a negotiated solution. We call on Canada to recognize the enshrined rights of self-determination codified in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and to leverage Canada’s reputation as a peacebuilder to maintain regional stability by calling on Turkey to immediately end its involvement in the fighting and encourage a return to peaceful negotiation through the Minsk Process.
Margaret Atwood, C.C.
Salah Bachir, C.M.
Atom Egoyan, C.C.
Dr. Arshavir Gundjian, C.M.
Robert Lantos, C.M.
Deepa Mehta, O.C.
Sarah Polley, O.C.
Greg Sarkissian, C.M.
Raymond C. Setlakwe, C.M.
Dr. William Schabas, O.C.
Prof. Varouj Aivazian, University of Toronto
Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Founder & CEO Flagship Pioneering, Co-Founder of The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
Marius Alexe, President & CEO of ST Global Asset Management Inc.
Sarkis Assadourian, Former MP
Aris Babikian, Scarborough-Agincourt MPP
Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Founder and CEO, Global Privacy & Security by Design
Ingrid Connidis, (retired), Western University
Justin Connidis, lawyer (retired)
Kristine Connidis, lawyer and psychoanalyst
Dr. Nicolas Corradi, University of Ottawa
Andrew Coyne, Journalist
Mychael Danna, Academy Award®-winning Composer
Prof. Frédéric-Georges Fontaine, Université Laval
David Hamilton, Film Producer
Prof. Garry Hanan, Université de Montréal
Prof. Stephen Hanessian, Université de Montréal
Alan Heisy, Q.C. Former Chair of Toronto Police Service Board
Arsinée Khanjian, Actress and Producer
Prof. Nikolay Kornienko, Université de Montréal
Prof. Georgii Nikonov, Brock University
Prof. Roger Smith, The College of William and Mary
Prof. Harvey Sheer, University of Toronto
Prof. Farhang Rajaee, Carleton University
Prof. Christian Reber, Université de Montréal
Prof.Andrew Woolford, University of Manitoba
Jacob Yerex, Artist