Statement of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Republic of Latvia with regards to the recent Armenian military provocations
The international community has turned a blind eye to Armenia's policy of military occupation and ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijan for many years. The “equal treatment” of the aggressor and the victim of aggression have encouraged Armenia to resort to new military provocations in the atmosphere of impunity.
The last such provocations happened on 12th of July, on 23rd of August and on 27th of September, 2020.
On the 12 of July the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia made attempts to attack and occupy the positions of the state border in the Tovuz district of the Republic of Azerbaijan using heavy artillery. This time, choosing not a frontline along the zone of occupation of Nagorno Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan, but a region of the state border for military attacks, Armenia was trying:
- To provoke Azerbaijan to retaliate on the borderline, and thus involve third countries, with which it is in a military alliance, to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict,
- To hinder the process of peace negotiations between the two countries, thus forcing Azerbaijan to reconcile with the results of military occupation,
- To threaten or gain a control over the independent East-West energy (oil and gas pipelines) and transport corridors (roads and railways) passing through the Tovuz district of Azerbaijan. These alternative corridors connect Europe with the huge/alternative Oil and Gas reserves of the Caspian Sea, and with key economic centers in Asia that play an important role in the energy and transport security of Europe.
- To make Azerbaijan to pay for its independent energy and foreign policy.
- To destabilize the region and hinder its euro integration processes.
Immediately after the events in Tovuz, the Azerbaijani side observed new military buildup and war preparations in Armenia. According to open sources and intelligence information, a large amount of weapons have been shipped to the country from Russia. Azerbaijan warned and informed the international community about the war preparations in Armenia many times.
On August 23, the sabotage and reconnaissance group of the Armenian armed forces made an attempt to commit a provocation in the direction of Azerbaijan's Goranboy district. As a result of the decisive actions of the units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces stationed in this direction, the reconnaissance group of the Armenian armed forces was forced to retreat, incurring losses. Gurgen Alaverdyan, the commander of the sabotage group that detained while trying to commit provocations admitted that he serves in the Armed Forces of Armenia and that he was tasked to penetrate the territory of Azerbaijan as part of an intelligence mission.
At last, on the 27 of September 2020 the armed forces of Armenia blatantly violating the ceasefire regime have launched another aggression against Azerbaijan, by intensively attacking the positions of the armed forces of Azerbaijan along the frontline, as well as the villages of Qapanli of Terter district, Chiragli and Orta Garavend of Aghdam district, Alkhanli and Shukurbeyli of Fizuli district and Jojuq Merjanli of Jabrayil district, using large-caliber weapons, mortar launchers and artillery.
There are reports of dead and wounded among civilians and military servicemen. Extensive damage has been inflicted on many homes and civilian infrastructure including a whole family from Naftalan city. This is yet another blatant violation of fundamental norms and principles of international law, including Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Additional Protocols.
In order to prevent another military aggression by Armenia and provide the security of civilians and densely populated residential areas the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan undertake counter-offensive measures within the right of self-defense and in full compliance with the international humanitarian law liberating large occupied areas.
Nagorno Karabakh which is the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia after it launched military campaign against Azerbaijan in 1991. By the time the ceasefire reached in 1994, Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territories, which include the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts that have ethnically been cleansed of ethnic Azerbaijanis. The bloody war claimed the lives of 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis and expelled one million more from their ancestral lands.
Armenia, which bears full responsibility for unleashing the war against Azerbaijan, seizing 1/5 of its internationally recognized territory, has carried out ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories blatantly violating the binding resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993) of the United Nations Security Council that demand immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as the decisions and documents of other international organizations. The illegal presence of the armed forces of Armenia in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions of Azerbaijan is a serious threat to regional peace and security.
Azerbaijani side reminds once again that the latest provocative behavior of the new political and military leadership of Armenia such as shooting civilian Azerbaijani population along the frontline, conducting illegal elections in Nagorno Karabakh (31 March 2020) that faced international condemnation, exclusively by the EU denonucing and “not recognising the constitutional and legal framework" for the ballot, conducting military exercises in the occupied territories, employing new aggressive rhetoric such as declaring “Nagorno Karabakh as a part of Armenia” (Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan), evaluating the “new war as an opportunity for gaining new territories” (defense minister David Tanoyan), conducting illegal settlement of ethnic Armenians from Syria, Lebanon and the other parts of the world in violation of relevant Geneva Conventions have strictly undermined the peace process between the two states, and made peace negotiations senseless. Full responsibility for the present situation falls on the political-military leadership of Armenia.
The Government of Armenia and its diaspora organizations in third countries make calls on diaspora members to join armed units of Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, and recruit mercenaries for the this purpose. The Embassy recalls herewith that under UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) “individuals who travel to a state other than their state of residence or nationality for the purpose of the preparation, planning, or preparation of, or preparation in terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflict” are defined as “foreign terrorist fighters”. At the same time, the states in the territories of which these terrorist activities are being organized or financed also bear responsibility under international law, as well as in accordance with their own national legislation.
The Azerbaijani side highly appreciates the official statement of the Latvian Foreign Ministry of July 17, 2020 in support of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan in connection with the recent Armenian provocations, and calls all the Latvian and the world society to condemn the aggressor and to demand the withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan enabling the refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their homeland.
Al the above-mentioned in mind we conclude that:
- The international community has turned a blind eye to Armenia's policy of military occupation and ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijan for many years. The “equal treatment” of the aggressor and the victim of aggression have emboldened Armenia to resort to new military provocations in the atmosphere of impunity.
- The balanced position of the international community on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which has been demonstrated for many years, did not prove effective.
- Azerbaijan has proposed Armenians to live in self-governance, but they refused and continued the occupation and annexation of our lands.
- We have negotiated for 26 years, but peace process did not produce any results, and Armenian leader N.Pashinyan has abandoned the peace talks by saying “Karabakh is Armenia”. This aggressive rhetoric of Armenian Prime Minister has undermined and made senseless the principles of peace negotiations on the table, which are stipulating withdrawal of the occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. These principles were elaborated by OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs in many years.
- The counter-offensive measures undertaken by Azerbaijan are carried out in its own – internationally recognized territories, and Azerbaijan does not have any military targets in the territory of Armenia.
- Azerbaijan relies only on its own army. No mercenaries and external help, as some fake news report.
- Each country must put itself in the place of Azerbaijan and think how they would behave in our situation.
- There is only one way to achieve the peace: the armed forces of Armenia must withdraw from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
- The military presence and peace are countering concepts and ceasefire is not guaranteed in such an atmosphere. So Armenia should withdraw its forces from the occupied territories Azerbaijan enabling Azerbaijani internally displace persons to return to their homes, and it should present a timetable of withdrawal to Azerbaijani side as soon as possible.
It is incumbent on the international community more than ever to demonstrate principled position and express its solidarity with Azerbaijan in its just struggle to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and protect its population.