Baku, Azerbaijan, May 17
Armenia, blatantly violating its commitments under the Geneva Conventions, continues its illegal actions in the occupied Lachin District of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hikmet Hajiyev said in his statement issued on the 26th anniversary of the occupation of the Lachin District on May 17.
He reminded that on May 18, 1992, as a continuation of the military aggression policy pursued by Armenia against Azerbaijan, Lachin District, which was not part of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of Azerbaijan, was occupied by the armed forces of Armenia.
"As a result of the occupation, the inhabitants of Lachin District were subjected to ethnic cleansing, and currently, more than 77,000 Lachin residents live as internally displaced persons (IDP) in different regions of Azerbaijan. Armenia also inflicted serious damage to state and private property of Lachin District - 217 cultural, 101 educational, 142 healthcare, 462 commercial enterprises, 30 communications, two transport and various other production facilities were plundered and destroyed," according to the statement.
The document further reads that 54 historical monuments of world significance, more than 200 monuments of national significance have been subjected to vandalism by Armenia.
"The sixth century Albanian Aghoghlan cloister and the 14th century Malik Ajdar tomb, the mosque in Garygyshlag village and the ancient cemetery in Zabukh village are among them."
"The Lachin Museum of History and its unique collection of ancient gold, silver and bronze artifacts were plundered. Also, the silver handbag, looted exhibit of the Lachin History Museum, was sold at London's Sotheby's auction for $80,000," reads the document.
"Armenia, blatantly violating its commitments under the Geneva Conventions, continues its illegal actions in the occupied Lachin District, such as changing geographic names of the region, exploiting its natural resources and turning them into the source of illegal income, deliberate settlement of mainly Syrian refugees of Armenian origin to Lachin District and altering its demographic situation," Hajiyev said in his statement.
He emphasized that the European Court of Human Rights in the "Chiragov and others v. Armenia" case ruled in favor of Azerbaijani nationals, who were forcibly displaced from the occupied Lachin District of Azerbaijan.
The ECHR recognized continuing violations by Armenia of a number of their rights under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, namely, those relating to the protection of property (Article 1 of Protocol No. 1), the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8 of the Convention) and the right to an effective remedy (Article 13 of the Convention).
"Of particular importance is the indication by the Court, in paragraphs 19-20, that the Lachin District, in particular the Lachin town, were under military attack; that in mid-May 1992, Lachin was subjected to aerial bombardment, in the course of which many houses were destroyed; that the town was looted and burned; that Lachin and the surrounding villages were completely destroyed during the military conflict," reads the statement.
The occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan by Armenia and the ethnic cleansing conducted against the Azerbaijani population in the occupied territories clearly demonstrate that policy pursued by Armenia is the acquisition of territory by use of force, Hajiyev said.
The spokesperson noted that under the aggravating conditions of military aggression of Armenia, the UN Security Council adopted resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993).
"The UNSC resolutions condemned the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan and reaffirmed respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the inviolability of its internationally recognized borders. In those resolutions, the Security Council also confirmed that the Nagorno-Karabakh region is part of Azerbaijan, and demanded immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Instead of implementing demands of UNSC resolutions Armenia pursues the policy of annexation of occupied lands of Azerbaijan," reads the statement.
Hajiyev emphasized that Armenia’s attempts to present the results of illegal use of force against Azerbaijan - in contravention of the imperative norms of international law and the UN Charter, and massive violation of fundamental rights of more than 700,000 Azerbaijanis, who were forcefully expelled from the occupied territories - as “self-determination” or “human rights” of less than 90,000 Armenian ethnic minority living in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan is absurd and do not have any moral, legal or political justification, adding that it is only aimed at concealing the true intentions of Armenia.
"Armenia must finally understand that keeping Azerbaijan’s lands under the occupation can never produce desired political outcome and sustaining the status-quo of occupation is major cause of Armenia’s self-isolation and current systematic socio-economic and demographic crises," he said.
According to him, ending occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands and withdrawal of Armenia’s forces from occupied territories can provide chances for comprehensive regional cooperation and contribute to provision of lasting peace.
"Restoration of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan, and ensuring rights of Azerbaijani IDPs, including those from Lachin to return to their native lands and eliminating the grave consequences of the conflict, along being the commitment of the international community, is an unconditional right of Azerbaijan under the Charter of the UN," he said.
Hajiyev emphasized that Azerbaijan, while supporting the intensification of international efforts towards the soonest resolution of the conflict retains its rights under the Charter of UN to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty within internationally recognized borders and defend the violated rights of its citizens.