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At UN on "Peaceful" Use of Outer Space, Azerbaijan & Armenia Duel on Seats

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 2 --The "Peaceful" Uses of Outer Space gave rise at the UN to a fight on Friday morning. Among three new members proposed for the topic's Committee was Armenia. Azerbaijan challenged it, first in Vienna then in the General Assembly's Fourth Committee.

  The issue was Nagorno Karabakh, which also gave raise to several rights of reply in the late night sessions of the General Debate in September.

   But this was a new foray, seeking to block Armenia from a seat on a relatively obscure UN committee. As one diplomat asked Inner City Press rhetorically, is either one in outer space?

  There are a lot of push back to and votes against Azerbaijan. Cyprus on behalf of the European Union said this was an attempt to politicize membership on the Committee.

   The UN is, of course, a political place.

  Algeria's Permanent Representative said that his country was willing to take action against "occupying powers" -- which would also include Israel -- but on a forum like the Security Council, not on membership on Committees.

  After the final Committee vote, where Mongolia and Turkey joined Azerbaijan in abstaining, Turkey said that more effort should have been put into coming to consensus on procedure, so it had abstained. They were called the last speaker on the item. But the issue is sure to reappear. Watch this site.

Update: Azerbaijan's representative was later recognized to explain its vote after the vote, and congratulated the other new members Jordan and Costa Rica.

  Then he proceeded to say Armenia was behind the occupation of 20% of Azerbaijan, and made eight percent of Azerbaijanis internally displaced persons. He said Armenia is not a peaceful country, boding badly for outer space.

Armenia's Permanent Representative finished with a point of order, calling it a fantasy to link a bilateral issue with outer space.

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