Continuous illegal presence of Armenian military forces in Azerbaijan couldn’t go on endlessly
By Shaheen Abdullayev
On September 19, 2023 due to a terrorist act committed by the Armenian armed forces, six Azerbaijani citizens - two civilians, became victims of a mine terror. It is not the first time that Armenia has committed a terrorist act against Azerbaijan.
Since the end of the Second Karabakh War, more than 300 Azerbaijani citizens have become victims of mine terrorism or have been seriously injured.
Throughout the past three years since the signing of this statement, Armenia kept more than ten thousand-strong armed formations equipped with such heavy weaponry as tanks and other armored vehicles, artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers, mortars, electromagnetic warfare equipment and other types of offensive arms in the territory of Azerbaijan.
These illegal armed forces were sustained through direct military technical, logistical and financial support by Armenia, including by abusing the Lachin road, in an attempt to fuel separatism in the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan for the purposes of its revanchist policy.
The counter-terror measures demonstrated the scale of illegal militarization by Armenia despite the commitment it undertook under the Trilateral Statement to cease all military activities against Azerbaijan and withdraw its forces from Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory.
In just 24 hours more than 90 military outposts of the illegal formations were taken, 20 combat vehicles, 40 artillery pieces, 30 mortars, 6 electromagnetic warfare (EW) systems, and 2 antiaircraft missile systems were neutralized.
No sovereign state would tolerate such a heavy illegal military presence on its soil. Nor did Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan acted fully within the rights safeguarded under international law and its Constitution to protect safety and security of all its residents.
Thus, systematic attempts by Armenia to create a new status-quo of illegal use of force and to sustain a gray zone based on the “Line of Contact logic” in the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan was defeated.
(The author of this article is Azerbaijani Ambassador to Bahrain residing in Riyadh. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Daily Tribune)
Our servicemen have shown extraordinary heroism, bravery and professionalism during the anti-terrorist measures.
In challenging terrain and despite the presence of fortifications created over the years of engineering works by the enemy, given that the enemy’s positions are located on hills and in favorable places, our servicemen once again, showed heroism and professionalism and achieved significant military success in all directions in a short time.
Before the operation, Azerbaijani President gave a strict order to all military units that the Armenian population living in the Karabakh region should not be affected by the anti-terrorist measures and that the civilian population be protected. We have achieved this by using high-precision weapons.
At the same time, civilians felt protected entirely thanks to the professionalism of Azerbaijani Armed Forces.
Each and every action by Azerbaijan to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty, including the latest 24 hours counter-terrorism measures, were in line with norms and principles of international law.
Azerbaijan has been always committed to protection of civilians and civilian objects within its conducted actions.
After all, immediately after the Second Karabakh War, we repeatedly appealed to the Armenian leadership, their patrons abroad, and other parties, expressing our legitimate concern and saying to them that the continued presence of the Armenian armed forces on the territory of Azerbaijan was illegal and should stop.
We were saying that the illegal junta should fold up its so-called flag, worth no more than a piece of cloth, and vacate our lands.
It is our sovereign right. After the surrender of the criminal junta, this source of tension, this den of poison, has already been consigned to history.
The Armenian population of Karabakh can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The Armenian population of Karabakh are our citizens.
Armenian nationalists, war criminals, and the so-called leaders of Armenia and Karabakh took these people hostage and poisoned their brains. Armenia itself with its brazen and uncorrected disregard to its international obligations made these measures by Azerbaijan unavoidable.
Armenia’s attempt to accuse Azerbaijan of violating the Trilateral Statement of 10 November 2020 of the leaders of Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and Armenia is equally baseless.
On the contrary, it is Armenia that blatantly disregarded its commitment under the mentioned document with respect to withdrawal of its forces from the territory of Azerbaijan.
The results of anti-terrorist measures will allow to remove the obstacle for peace negotiations.
This will create a new reality in the South Caucasus.
We must take sure that Armenia does not live with revanchist ideas and they must make sure that we do not claim their territories.
We recognize their territorial integrity and we have declared it.
We suggest that the future of South Caucasus countries should be based on peace, stability and prosperity.
This region has been a place of quarrels, wars and bloody clashes for centuries.
Enough already! That day is not far away when Azerbaijan and Armenia will settle the issues between them, sign a peace treaty, and the countries will start working on future cooperation in a trilateral format.
Illegal military presence
The non-fulfillment by Armenia of its obligations on full, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of forces from the territory of Azerbaijan had been the reason for the failure of all international efforts to settle the armed conflict unleashed by Armenia against Azerbaijan more than 30 years ago.
Continued illegal military presence of Armenia in sovereign territory of Azerbaijan remained the most serious obstacle to a post-conflict normalization process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as to efforts to reintegrate the ethnic Armenian residents of the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan after the signing of the Trilateral Statement on November 10, 2020, under which the conflict was ended and completely new realities emerged in the region.
We have consistently and extensively called the attention of all involved international actors to the danger of such an illegal military presence.
Unfortunately, acknowledgment of our legitimate concerns behind closed doors was not reflected in practical steps and public messages of our interlocutors.
The lack of adequate targeted reaction by international community to irresponsible warmongering statements and aggressive actions by Armenia, only contributed to this country’s sense of impunity and permissiveness that led to more military and political provocations.
But, it was a grave miscalculation.
At a time when practical implementation of disarmament and demilitarization on the ground starts, accompanied by direct dialogue between Armenian residents and central Azerbaijani officials, the consideration of the situation by international community should correspond to existing realities in order to remain relevant and helpful.
On the contrary, one-sided and biased approach driven by shortsighted political considerations or lobby connections, which mostly is at the core of calling this debate at the Reliance on such a course of action failed on several previous occasions.
This can only lead to distracting the focus from real process of normalization, which is not in interest of either of Azerbaijan or Armenia, but please the whims of certain outside forces that continue to manipulate existing differences for their own political purposes.
Dialogue and negotiations
Despite all serious challenges stemming from Armenia’s destructive position, Azerbaijan once again reaffirms its readiness for a genuine dialogue and negotiations on the basis of equal and reciprocal respect for each other’s legitimate interests.
We once again extend our offer of a just, fair and lasting peace to Armenia, notwithstanding the unhealed wounds of its armed aggression against my country, massive devastations of our cities and villages, deliberate desecration of our holy places.
We hope this offer by Azerbaijan will finally be reciprocated by this country.
On a different track, the Republic of Azerbaijan reaffirms its determination to guarantee to ethnic Armenian residents of the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan all rights and freedoms in line with its Constitution and relevant international human rights mechanisms, including those safeguarded for persons belonging to national minorities.
Despite the fact that during almost 30 years of Armenia’s military occupation Azerbaijanis, facing massacres and mass atrocities were deprived from all the rights, Azerbaijan has always been committed to safeguard the rights of all the ethnic minorities in its territory, including of Armenians.
In fact, after 24 hours the counter-terror measures have already been ceased, and dialogue on the reintegration of ethnic Armenian residents of the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan started in practical terms on the ground.
The long overdue meeting of the Special Representative of the Government of Azerbaijan with representatives of Armenian residents took place 21st September in the city of Yevlakh, Azerbaijan.
At the meeting, the special representative assigned by the Government of Azerbaijan for the dialogue with Armenian residents outlined the plans of the Government for reintegration and the issues related to restoration and operation of infrastructures were discussed.
In the context of discussion of social and humanitarian matters, and upon the request of the Armenian residents the delivery of fuel for the use of social facilities, such as kindergartens and schools, hospitals, and other emergency services, as well as other humanitarian support measures are expected to be implemented soon by the relevant central Government institutions.
In light of this, practical discussions on the reintegration of ethnic Armenian residents of the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan have practically commenced immediately after the counter-terror measures.
The Government of Azerbaijan has immediately mobilized its resources to promptly address the humanitarian needs of civilians on the ground. With the instructions of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a working group led by Deputy Prime Minister was established.
This group has been tasked with addressing a wide spectrum of issues, including those related to social welfare, humanitarian assistance, economic recovery, and infrastructure rehabilitation in the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan.
Following the request of the representatives of Armenian residents made at the meeting held in Yevlakh on September 21, fuel and lubricants have been transported to the region, prioritizing kindergartens, emergency medical services and firefighting facilities.
Law enforcement structures, as well as representatives of several state institutions dealing with social affairs are on-site delivering first aid and necessary support to the affected Armenian residents.
A significant milestone on rehabilitation of critical infrastructure was reached on September 24 when Khankendi was successfully connected to Azerbaijan’s electricity network.
This achievement has ensured uninterrupted electricity supply from Government resources to ethnic Armenian residents of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan reminds the obligation of all States under the international law on non-interference with internal affairs of other States, not undermining the integration of persons belonging to national minorities or fueling separatism in the territory of neighboring states.
Azerbaijan remains open to constructive engagement with all international partners who have genuine interest in peace, stability and well-being in our region.