President: Armenia must bear state responsibility for military aggression against Azerbaijan

"In 2018, the Kocharyan-Sargsyan regime of war criminals was overthrown in Armenia. We had some hopes that the new government of Armenia would seriously engage in negotiations. We were ready to reciprocate any positive signal coming from Armenia. 2018-2019, it was one of the calmest periods in the former line of contact. However, the regime replacement in Armenia was not followed by real changes on the ground in spite of Azerbaijan’s positive actions. The new government of Armenia also opted for the continuation of occupation instead of peaceful neighborhood with Azerbaijan," President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said speaking at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in a format of a video address, SİA informs.

"During the last 2 years of the conflict, Armenia deliberately destroyed the negotiation process. The Government of Armenia made a number of provocative statements and actions like saying “Karabakh is Armenia, and period” and “Not an inch of occupied land back”. The then defense minister of Armenia openly threatened Azerbaijan with new aggression and occupation of new territories. Armenia put forward unacceptable and groundless so-called seven conditions and demanded to change the negotiations format, to start from the “zero point” and to involve the puppet regime established by Armenia in the occupied territories in negotiation process. Attempt by Armenian government to change the format and substance of negotiations was unpleasant surprise for the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, whose efforts were paralyzed by irresponsible and dangerous actions of Armenia.

Furthermore, in gross violation of international law, including Geneva Conventions, Armenia was blatantly implementing the policy of illegal settlement of people mainly from Middle East with Armenian origin in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Encouraged by the long-lasting sense of impunity, Armenia was also announcing construction of new roads from Armenia to occupied territories to further consolidate the result of its aggression and speed up the illegal settlement.

In July 2020, Armenia perpetrated military provocation along the state border with Azerbaijan. As a result of the artillery strike inflicted on Azerbaijan’s Tovuz district, 13 military servicemen and civilians were killed.

Later in August last year, Armenian sabotage group attempted to penetrate through the former line of contact to commit terror acts against Azerbaijani military servicemen and civilians but it was successfully neutralized.

In my statement at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly on 24 September last year, I had warned that, “hostile, Azerbaijanohobic statements and provocations of Armenian leadership demonstrate that Armenia is preparing for a new aggression against Azerbaijan.”

Three days later on the 27th September last year, Armenia launched a large-scale attack against military positions and civilians of Azerbaijan. In response, Azerbaijan, using its inherent right of self-defense as enshrined in the article 51 of the UN Charter, started a counter-attack on its own territories against Armenia.

During 44 days, armed forces of Armenia heavily shelled districts and cities situated along the frontline, namely Aghdam, Aghjabadi, Beylagan, Dashkasan, Fuzuli, Goranboy, Tartar. Armenia also fired at Ganja, Barda, Mingachevir, Gabala, Siyazan, Khizi and other cities situated far away from the former frontline. One of missiles was intercepted by Azerbaijani Air Defense Forces in Khizi, close to Baku, which shows that the capital city Baku was also target of Armenian missile attack. Armenia was using ballistic missiles, like Scud and Iskander-M, as well as forbidden white phosphorus and cluster munitions. These war crimes of Armenia resulted in more than 100 civilians, including 11 children being killed, more than 450 wounded. More than 12,000 civilian infrastructures, including private houses in Azerbaijan have been destroyed or severely damaged.

Abided by the fundamental principle of international humanitarian law on the distinction between combatants and civilians, Azerbaijan never reciprocated Armenia’s vicious war crimes by targeting civilians.

Armenia also recruited mercenaries and foreign fighters from abroad and deployed them against Azerbaijan.

During 44-day war Azerbaijan liberated a large part of occupied territories, including cities of Jabrayil, Hadrut, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha. In total more than 300 cities and villages were liberated on the battlefield. Armenia had to sign an act of capitulation on 10 November 2020. Accordingly, Armenia was obliged to withdraw its troops from the remaining part of Azerbaijan’s territories, namely Aghdam, Lachin and Kalbajar regions. Azerbaijan, itself, enforced the implementation of the abovementioned UN Security Council resolutions, probably, it was the first case in the world since the establishment of the UN.

Azerbaijan resolved the 30-year-long conflict and restored its territorial integrity and historical justice by military-political means. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was left in the past. There is no administrative territorial unit called Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. We have created Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur economic zones by the Presidential decree signed on 7 July this year. Using this occasion, I would like to call on all the UN Member States and the UN Secretariat to avoid using legally non-existing, politically biased and manipulative names while referring to our territories.

The building of multi-layered defense lines and fortifications with long trenches, tunnels and bunkers by Armenia for years in the formerly occupied territories of Azerbaijan proves that Armenia did not intent to return those territories by any means.

During almost 30-year-long occupation Armenia has deliberately destroyed cities and villages, looted and plundered all cultural and religious sites of Azerbaijan turning them into textbook example of urbicide and culturicide. After the Second World War, probably, annihilation of cities in such a magnitude has not happened anywhere else in the world. 9 Azerbaijani cities and hundreds of villages have been barbarically wiped out by Armenia. Armenia attempted to erase the traces of Azerbaijani people living in these territories for centuries. Aghdam city was destroyed to such an extent that it was called as "Hiroshima of Caucasus". After the liberation, our Army could not find a single safe building in Fuzuli city to raise the Azerbaijani flag.

Out of 67 mosques in the territories which were under Armenian occupation, 65 have been razed to the ground and the remaining 2 have been severely damaged and desecrated, including by being used as stables for pigs and cows in total disrespect to all Muslims of the world. Even the graveyards were desecrated, destroyed, and looted.

During visits to liberated territories, foreign diplomats, representatives of international organizations and international journalists have witnessed the barbarism committed by Armenia. The facts of the full destruction of cities and villages, including the cultural and religious heritage sites of Azerbaijani people has been widely documented and broadcasted by international media and independent experts.

Each delegation in the United Nations has been provided with an illustrative book which contains brief information and photos of our towns and villages before and after the occupation. It reflects the total destruction of religious and historic monuments of Azerbaijan.

Armenia has committed severe ecocide in the formerly occupied territories of Azerbaijan. 60,000 hectares of our forests have been destroyed, cut down and taken away, soil and rivers have been polluted and contaminated.

Armenia used water reserves to create an artificial environmental crisis on the formerly occupied territories. In 2016, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted resolution entitled “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water” demanding the Armenian authorities to cease using water reservoirs as tools of political influence or an instrument of pressure. This resolution was totally ignored by Armenia, which continued to use the Sarsang water reservoir as a tool of humanitarian and environmental terrorism. Armenia was intentionally opening the floodgates during the winter months to cause flooding in the surrounding areas and closing them in summer to deprive people and farms from water in the former frontline region.

Armenia has been severely polluting transboundary river called Okhchuchay causing irreversible degradation of ecosystem of the area along the river in Azerbaijan. Regrettably, some foreign companies are also participating in this environmental crime.

Armenia illegally exploited natural resources, including gold and other precious metals and minerals of the formerly occupied lands and exported it to the international markets. Based on solid facts, we have identified companies from different countries illegally exploiting Azerbaijan’s natural resources and conducting other illegal activities in the formerly occupied territories. We have already started taking legal actions against those companies. They will be held accountable for illegally exploiting our natural resources in the formerly occupied lands.

We have around 4,000 citizens registered as missing persons from the first Karabakh War. Armenia must provide us with information about their fate. We have solid proofs that almost all of them have been tortured and killed, and buried in mass graves by Armenian military in violation of international humanitarian law. In April 2021, remains of 12 civilians killed by Armenian war criminals have been identified in liberated Bashlibel village of Kalbajar district in a mass grave.

Armenia must bear state responsibility for military aggression and other grave crimes committed against Azerbaijan under international law and the Charter of the United Nations.

The despotic warlords, who came to power in Armenia as a result of coup d’etat and ruled for 20 years from 1998 to 2018, were completely doomed to failure in achieving their nefarious dreams and goals during the three-decade-long occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories. On the contrary, Armenia has become a failed state, as I had emphasized in my statement at the UN General Assembly in 2017. The country has been weakened to the extent that it cannot even guard its own borders by itself.

“Azerbaijanophobia” promoted by the government is on the rise in Armenia. Racist ideology cultivated in Armenian society based on ethnic hatred and demonization is the root cause of ethnic cleansing and unprecedented vandalism in the formerly occupied lands of Azerbaijan by Armenia.

Despite the regime change in Armenia, the fascist ideology continues to dominate in the country. Successive Armenian governments have glorified Nazism in the person of Nazi general Garegin Nzhdeh who has been turned into “national hero” in Armenia. While the progressive world is fighting against the rise of neo-fascism, the then president of Armenia inaugurated the monument of Garegin Nzhdeh in capital Yerevan in 2016. Azerbaijan defeated not only Armenian occupying forces, but also Armenian fascism. If we see again any danger to our sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of our people we will exercise our legitimate right to self-defense without any hesitation," the head of state said.

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