We must return to Lachin, Zabukh and Sus - President Ilham Aliyev

We must return to Lachin, Zabukh and Sus, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said in an interview with an Azerbaijani TV channel, in Basgal settlement on August 12, SİA reports.

"Of course, as you know, extensive work is currently under way in all of Karabakh and East Zangazur, including the construction of this road as soon as possible. We built this road in just one year. It is 32 kilometers long. Prior to that, immediately after the second Karabakh war, we started talks with the Russian side regarding the route of this road. In other words, this road did not fall out of the sky. We reached agreement on this road. There were several routes on the table and this route was eventually chosen. The Russian Ministry of Defense agreed and approved this route together with us at the highest level. If this had been otherwise, how could we have built a road in the territory under the temporary control of Russia? So this is natural. If anyone attempts to accuse us of having done something illegal or taking a unilateral step, it is absolutely not the case. We can prove it at any level. An inquiry can be sent to the official authorities of Russia as to how this road was built - all the documents and agreements are there. This route was agreed. Of course, we didn’t have to agree this route with Armenia because Armenia has nothing to do with it. Armenia was simply informed about the point the access to the Armenian border, so that they bring their own new road to that point. Unfortunately, they did not do that. Why? To mark time – there is no other reason.

When we started to build this new Lachin road, we appealed to Armenia through the Russian side and said that – because I had foreseen that they would resort to such escapades. We suggested that we could also build a road in their territory. It is only 8-9 kilometers long. They refused. They said no, they would do it themselves. And when did they start it? It is actually hardly possible to describe it as a start, because they are only working on the feasibility study now. At that time, we sent an official letter to the Russian side. We sent a notice saying that we would finish the construction of this road on 5 August and asking them to transfer the posts of the peacekeeping contingent from the old road to the new road. And this is also natural. When we sent out this letter, the Armenian side probably got acquainted with it as well. A day later, Armenia declared that it wanted to start the feasibility study of this road and would build it by the end of 2023. In other words, it is actually an act of manipulation. It is a completely hollow and inappropriate step. We said that if this was the case, then on 5 August we would enter the Lachin corridor, set up our posts there and see how you would act. Then the hullaballoo started. The Armenians living in Karabakh appealed to us, they asked us many times to give them time until the end of August. We agreed to that. After all, it doesn't matter whether it is 5 August, 25 August or 1 September. The Armenians living in Karabakh also asked us to build a 4-kilometer ground road to the point where it will be connected to the Armenian border. We agreed to that but, of course, those who had illegally settled in the city of Lachin, the villages of Zabukh and Sus should leave. This is natural. Their stay there is actually a war crime. It runs counter to the Geneva conversions. The occupying country cannot carry out illegal settlement in the occupied lands. This is a war crime. The Armenians from Syria and Lebanon who had settled may not know this, but the Armenian leadership knows it perfectly well. So news is coming in from there now, as someone says that they won't leave, others says they won't leave. It is up to them. They are war criminals. Let them not test our patience again. Let them leave of their own free will. We don't care where they go.

We must return to Lachin, Zabukh and Sus. I have ordered the state refugee committee to contact the natives of Lachin city, Sus and Zabukh villages, so that we could return them to their native places in the near future," said the head of state.

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