Press release on the briefing for the diplomatic corps accredited in the Republic of Azerbaijan on the latest situation in the region
On 18 September 2023 a briefing for the diplomatic corps accredited in Azerbaijan was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with participation of Assistant to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan-Head of the Department of Foreign Policy Affairs of the Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev, Representative of the President of Azerbaijan on special assignments Elchin Amirbayov and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fariz Rzayev.
During the briefing the following main points were highlighted:
Despite all the efforts of Azerbaijan through the involved international partners, Armenia and the illegal structure it has installed in the sovereign territories of Azerbaijan continue to undermine the normalization process and to reject all the proposals aimed at decreasing tension;
On the contrary, we face persistent provocative steps by the opposite side. So-called “presidential elections” in the Garabagh region is a clear example in this regard. Despite Azerbaijan’s messages, the Armenian side did not reverse its path.
Türkiye, Pakistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, United States, Iran and international organizations, such as United Nations, Organization of Turkic States, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and European Union made statements, which denounced and did not recognize “illegal elections” and its legitimacy;
Taking this opportunity, we thank all the individual states and international organizations that stood behind the international law and spoke clearly against this unlawful, illegitimate and utterly provocative step by the Armenian side;
For the past several months, efforts continued through different involved partners, in particular the Russian Federation, United States, and the EU, to materialize the simultaneous use of Aghdam-Khankendi and Lachin-Khankendi roads for the delivery of goods to the Armenian residents.
In all diplomatic discussions, all interlocutors, without exception, confirmed that formula of simultaneous passages from Lachin and Aghdam represents a legitimate and reasonable way out of the current impasse.
It needs to be highlighted that the call for simultaneous passages was voiced in various statements issued by the US Department of State, Russian MFA, Spokesperson of the EU Council President, as well as in interventions delivered at the OSCE Permanent Council meeting held on September 12;
On September 12, after long discussions and delays, the truck of the Russian Red Cross Society was finally allowed to pass through Aghdam to Khankendi. While it was the shared expectation of all involved that this would be a momentum for the realization of the simultaneous passages that has been on the table for months, yet, these hopes proved to be wrong again;
On September 10, within high-level contacts with the Unites States and other partners Azerbaijan has once again confirmed its adherence to simultaneous passage by the ICRC from Lachin and Aghdam with implementation of the Azerbaijan’s national border and customs control requirements when it comes to the passage from Lachin;
On September 11, shortly after receiving relevant requests from the ICRC for the passage of goods, the Azerbaijani side conveyed its readiness to facilitate the passage of goods as enlisted in these official requests, and asked the ICRC to notify the date and time when ICRC intends to organize such a simultaneous passage. In response, we got the message that ICRC has no green light from the Armenian side to accept the goods and ensure the security of the ICRC convoys;
While Azerbaijan responded to appeals of involved international partners consistently and considered in good-faith different options for simultaneous passages from Lachin and Aghdam, Armenian side with the same level of consistency backtracked from agreements and introduced new pretexts;
The Armenian side continued objection to the opening of the roads was political and had nothing to do with whatever “humanitarian concerns.” Armenia’s aim is to sustain tools and means to continue fueling separatism in the territory of Azerbaijan. The ordinary residents are kept as hostage to such a political adventure;
Against this backdrop, the recent public hearing in the US Senate was nothing, but an orchestrated show aimed at pleasing Armenian lobby. We regret that the State Department representative joined one-sided anti-Azerbaijani statements produced by Armenian lobbyists;
It has been already several weeks that the issue of simultaneous passages from Lachin and Aghdam with observance of Azerbaijan’s legislation, including customs requirements, is being discussed with the US side at various levels. Therefore, the reason for the current impasse is crystal clear to the US side. Notwithstanding this, the testimony at the US Senate replicated the false Armenian narrative;
Azerbaijan has always been ready to facilitate the consecutive and parallel use of both roads as discussed accordingly during July 15 meeting between the leaders in Brussels, and during the September 1st phone conversation between the President of Azerbaijan and the Secretary of State of the United States. However, for several months it has not been materialized because of indifference of the Armenian side in the solution, continuous politicization of the humanitarian delivery and, pursuance of separatism and segregation. Another reason was to accuse Azerbaijan in creating so-called humanitarian crisis, which was absolutely groundless. Unfortunately, some members of political circles of some countries associated themselves with these fake accusations.
Yesterday, on September 17 we received an initial notification from the ICRC that the Armenian side has agreed to accept the goods with parallel passage through Aghdam-Khankandi and Lachin-Khankandi roads. Today, after receiving official note verbale on the passage by the ICRC, at 7:00 this morning we were able to organize the simultaneous passage of two vehicles of the ICRC, one via Aghdam-Khankandi and another via Lachin-Khankandi roads, which once again has demonstrated that the accusations against Azerbaijan on “blockade” have no ground.
At the same time, situation around the issue of delivery of goods is not isolated from Armenia’s increased military and political provocations targeting Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity;
Armenia’s more than 10 thousand-strong armed forces continue to be illegally stationed in the territory of Azerbaijan. More than one hundred tanks and other armored vehicles, more than two hundred heavy artillery pieces, including multiple rocket launchers, dozens of different type of radio electronic warfare equipment, more than two hundred mortars are currently deployed in the territory of Azerbaijan where the Russian peacekeeping contingent has been temporarily deployed;
Armenia provides technical, military, logistical and financial support to sustain these forces in violation of its obligations and commitments. The armed formations in Azerbaijan’s territory are financed directly from the state budget of Armenia. Armenia demonstratively violates the Trilateral Statement of 10 November 2020, since its Article 4 clearly stipulates that the Armenian armed forces must withdraw in parallel with the deployment of peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation;
The use of radio-electronic warfare equipment illegally deployed in the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan is of particular concern. Not only civilian aircrafts of the Azerbaijani Airlines, but also those of foreign countries have been target to radio-electronic interference for the last several months, including on 13 July, 24 July, 27 July, 21 August, 1 September, posing serious risk and threat for their safety and security of people and air traffic. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Russian peacekeeping contingent were informed on such threatening actions.
Past days have witnessed even more intensified military provocations accompanied by increased military build-up, both along the undelimited border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and in the Garabagh region. Armenia digs new trenches, builds fortifications and accumulates personnel and equipment in an apparent effort to launch another military attack;
Armenia continues to plant new landmines in the territory of Azerbaijan. It should be noted that since August of 2022, a total of 2,728 landmines made in Armenia in 2021 were detected and neutralized, out of which were 1,119 landmines in the Kalbajar and Lachin districts along the border area between Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as 1,609 in the territory of the Garabagh Economic Region. Both the Russian peacekeeping contingent and Heads of the Turkish-Russian Joint Monitoring Center, as well as the military representatives of foreign countries visited the area where these landmines were demonstrated.
One of the reasons for establishment of the Lachin border checkpoint was to prevent the mentioned illegal military activities and smuggling.
A “congratulatory message” by the Prime Minister of Armenia on the occasion of the so-called anniversary of establishment of illegal puppet structure in the territory of Azerbaijan cannot but provide yet another evidence that Armenia is not sincere in its previous statements on recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan;
On the contrary, with latest statements and actions the Armenian leadership essentially nullified these previous statements;
Armenian diplomatic missions accredited at different international organizations continue to distribute documents on behalf of the illegal regime, again despite Armenia’s expressed recognition of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan;
The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is as important as that of any other country. And consequently, Azerbaijan is as entitled as any other country in the world to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity by all means safeguarded under international law;
At this critical juncture, making Armenia to reverse its dangerous path is more important and required than ever;
Armenia and the junta it continues to maintain in the sovereign territories of Azerbaijan through all possible ideological, political, military, financial and other means, must face a unified and clear stance by international community that relying on old tactic of wining time has no chance to yield an outcome they desire;
Azerbaijan is interested in finding a solution and has proved it in its sincere engagement with international actors, which offered their good offices and mediation services. In all instances, without exception, the Armenian side violated previously reached agreements under different pretexts. The true reason is one and the same: to prolong the situation, artificially ignite tension and ultimately derail the normalization process;
Azerbaijan’s commitment to the peace process is strong and has been proven through consistent steps we have been taking since November 2020;
We demand from Armenia to stop its military buildup, refrain from revanchist plans, stop contesting and violating Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and stop sponsoring separatism and terrorism in Garabagh region of Azerbaijan. We also demand to immediately begin to withdraw Armenian military personnel, dissolve military and so-called “government” structures of Armenia-subordinated puppet regime and disarm all Armenian armed forces illegally located in Azerbaijan’s territories. In this case, amnesty can be applied to so-called “representatives” of illegal regime.