Azerbaijan’s actions reminds those of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at the government sitting today as he responded to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s accusations.
During a speech in Shushi on November 8 the Azerbaijani President accused Armenia of pursuing an aggressive policy against the Muslim world, and said they have “explained” this to the Muslim countries.
“Our respect for the Islamic religion and civilization is unquestionable. The Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people have fraternal feelings and partnership relations with dozens of Islamic countries and peoples, while Azerbaijan, with its practices, reminds of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which discredit Islam,” the Prime Ministert Pashinyans aid in response.
Below is the Prime Minister’s speech in full:
Dear participants of the Cabinet meeting, dear compatriots,
The statements made by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev two days ago, on November 8, 2022 once again prove that the geopolitical ambitions of the Azerbaijani authorities continue to be a threat to the security and stability of the South Caucasus and the wider region.
That speech, full of unaddressed insults addressed to the international community and arrogance addressed to the Republic of Armenia, where the President of Azerbaijan tries to accuse Armenia and our government of not fulfilling the agreements and obligations, proves the diametrically opposite. Moreover, Aliyev’s statements were made on the day after the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Washington and discussions on a possible peace treaty, when the delegations of the parties had not even managed to return to their capitals.
With that notorious speech, the leadership of Azerbaijan grossly violated the written agreement on refraining from the use of force and the threat of use of force, recorded in the trilateral statement adopted in Sochi on October 31, just a few days ago. Contrary to the Sochi statement of October 31 and the Prague statement of October 6 of this year, the leader of Azerbaijan speaks about his ambitions towards the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, with an obvious motive to terrorize the civilian population with the threatening use of the names and aliases of a number of Armenian settlements.
Violations of statements and agreements adopted in trilateral and other formats by Azerbaijan have a chronic nature, which is expressed in the following.
In December 2020, Azerbaijan illegally occupied the settlements of Khtsaberd and Hin Tagher of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas, contrary to the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, according to which a complete ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone comes into effect, all military operations are stopped and the parties remain in their positions.
Azerbaijan carried out a similar occupation in March 2022, invading the zone of responsibility of the Russian Federation’s peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and violating the line of contact defined by the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, and now the President of Azerbaijan proudly calls it “Operation Parukh”. Azerbaijan violates the ceasefire regime almost on a daily basis, including on the line of contact established by the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, simultaneously declaring that Nagorno Karabakh does not exist.
This claim itself is a gross violation of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020. In addition, in that well-known document signed by Azerbaijan, the name “Nagorno Karabakh” is mentioned 4 times.
Azerbaijan has not taken steps so far to start a dialogue visible for the international community with the representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians, about which it assumed obligation at a number of international platforms. At the same time, Azerbaijan is trying to show itself as constructive and declares that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are “their citizens and their rights and security are guaranteed”.
To what extent this claim is true can be practically proven by checking what conditions Azerbaijan has created and what steps it has taken for the safe return of thousands of residents of Hadrut and other Armenian-populated areas of Nagorno-Karabakh, who were displaced as a result of the 44-day war in 2020. Azerbaijan has not taken any steps in this direction, which is a gross violation of point 7 of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020. In violation of this same point, Azerbaijan is preventing the entry of representatives of the United Nations, particularly the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, into Nagorno-Karabakh.
These and a number of similar actions and statements make it obvious that Aliyev not only threatens, but is already preparing the genocide of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. This intention is also expressed in the comments of the President of Azerbaijan about the terms of deployment of the Russian peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh, which in turn grossly violate at least three of the statements made in the trilateral format.
The trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020 states that peacekeepers are deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh for a period of 5 years, with the automatic extension of successive five-year periods. I repeat, automatically extended. This essentially means that the peacekeepers are stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh indefinitely, unless all issues related to the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are addressed and all security concerns of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are resolved.
With the trilateral statements of November 26, 2021 and October 31, 2022, the President of Azerbaijan himself acknowledged the crucial, important contribution of the peacekeepers in ensuring security and stability in the area of their deployment. Moreover, he recognized the need for further efforts of the Russian peacekeepers in ensuring stability of the situation in the region. Speaking about removal of the peacekeepers without clear international guarantees for the security and rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh after signing these two Sochi statements and making these records, is not only a violation of the mentioned trilateral statements, but also a preparation for the genocide of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The long-time manipulative speech developed by Azerbaijan around the Lachin Corridor and the attempt to draw parallels between the Lachin Corridor and the unblocking of all regional transport and economic links provided for in point 9 of the trilateral declaration of November 9 are another actions and statements contradicting to the trilateral declaration of November 9.
The President of Azerbaijan is trying to create grounds, invented grounds for closing the Lachin Corridor, surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and subjecting them to genocide and expatriation under the pretext of Armenia not fulfilling its obligations.
Meanwhile, the regulations of the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020 leave no room for such parallels and this is justified by several facts.
In points 3 and 6 of the trilateral declaration concerning Lachin Corridor, it is written “Lachin Corridor”, this is a quotation, that is, Lachin Corridor is directly named as such.
In the 9th point of the same declaration, there is no mention of a corridor, neither any territory of the Republic of Armenia, nor a place name.
According to point 6 of the trilateral declaration, the Lachin Corridor is not only a road or a transport route, but also a 5-kilometer wide area.
In point 9, there is no mention of any such area and it’s only about communication, transport communication.
According to point 6 of the trilateral declaration, the Lachin Corridor is under the control of the Russian peacekeeping troops.
In point 9, it is stated that the Border Gguard Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation carries out oversight over transport communication between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the autonomous republic of Nakhichevan. This issue is further clarified by point 3 of the decree No. 695 of the President of the Russian Federation of November 10, 2020 “On ensuring peace in Nagorno-Karabakh”, which states, I quote: “To the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation: Carry out oversight over the transportation connections between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan provided by the Republic of Armenia for the unhindered two-way movement of citizens, goods, and vehicles.”
In other words, there is no and cannot be any question of control over our sovereign territory and alienation of any of our sovereign functions, we are talking about oversighting the implementation of agreements, and by saying agreement, we should understand the statement, because naturally, there can be no other agreement, and this is the only thing the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation can do.
According to point 6 of the trilateral declaration, the Lachin Corridor was created solely for the purpose of creating an uninterrupted and safe connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia, as a guarantee of security, as the only and irreplaceable way of life for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Point 9 of the same declaration is about unblocking the transport and economic links of the region, and it is only in that context that the transport communication between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan is mentioned, and this communication, accordingly, is part of the process of unblocking the transport and economic links of the region.
This is also made evident by the trilateral statement of January 11, 2021, which is the extended version of paragraph 9 of the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, a document explaining its meaning.
Accordingly, it is necessary to record that the accusations against Armenia of violating point 9 of the declaration of November 9, 2020 are completely groundless. By that point, Armenia has only one obligation, which is to ensure the transportation link between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan. By the way, no specific route is mentioned in the November 9 declaration or any other statement.
The Republic of Armenia has always been ready and is still ready to provide that communication, and it is for this purpose that the draft decision of the Armenian government has been put into circulation on the creation of checkpoints on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, and as a result of the adoption of this decision, Azerbaijan can receive communication with the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan through the roads of Armenia. That decision has not been adopted for one reason: Azerbaijan does not want that route. This means that Armenia fully fulfills its obligation, and it is Azerbaijan that does not want to use the opportunity. Moreover, this policy of refusal is completely incomprehensible. If Azerbaijan really wants peace and is ready for peace, as it declares, then let’s open those checkpoints, let’s create opportunities for people. It is clear that people will hesitate, they will consider, but when they are convinced of the sincerity of intentions, the citizens of both the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan will definitely start using this new opportunity for movement.
As for the construction of new roads, the Republic of Armenia simply does not have such an obligation with the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020 or any statement or document. Point 9 of the declaration provides such a possibility in case of agreement between the parties. And the Republic of Armenia is ready to give its consent. And the agreement is not achieved for only one reason. Azerbaijan continues to carry out aggressive rhetoric and actions contrary to the reached agreements and signed statements.
The fact that the President of Azerbaijan himself breached the agreement reached in the presence of the President of the European Council Charles Michel on December 14, 2021 in Brussels, needs to be specially emphasized, and there was also a public statement about it. According to that, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to start the restoration works of the Yeraskh-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz railway and clearly stated that the railway will operate in accordance with the laws of both countries.
A few days later, the President of Azerbaijan himself refused to sign the document confirming this agreement. It seemed to be a very simple situation, all that was needed was to put what was publicly announced on paper and just sign it, but Azerbaijan declined this action. Even today, the President of Azerbaijan refuses to do that, and I officially announce that I am still ready to sign the document confirming this agreement. I am talking about the agreement, regarding which I made a post on my Facebook page and also made a statement on this issue at the Cabinet meeting, gave instructions and so on.
I already said that the president of Azerbaijan himself refuses to use the opportunity offered by Armenia for transport communication between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan.
The President of Azerbaijan himself refuses the proposal for the construction of new communications, which the Republic of Armenia formulated in a written form and sent to Azerbaijan in December 2021. Moreover, we are going to present a new proposal on this topic in the near future. And by the way, we have another additional, reserve proposal on this topic.
The President of Azerbaijan himself is breaching the agreement on the comprehensive addressing of the Nagorno Karabakh problem, which was reached in December 2021 in Brussels.
The President of Azerbaijan himself is canceling the option of indefinitely postponing the issue of the status of Nagorno Karabakh, which was agreed upon in November 2020 with the mediation of the Russian President.
The President of Azerbaijan himself violates the statement made in Sochi on November 26, 2021 and breakes the reached agreement, according to which the border delimitation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan should proceed under conditions of ensuring border security and exclude any escalation.
The President of Azerbaijan himself broke the agreement reached in Brussels in December 2021, according to which a simultaneous withdrawal of troops was to be carried out in the most dangerous areas.
And why is it acting this way, why does Azerbaijan bring the process to a dead end every time? to continue his aggressive policy of genocide. The President of Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of having an army in Nagorno Karabakh as part of the preparations for the genocide of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh.
First of all, I must record that the Republic of Armenia does not have an army in Nagorno Karabakh, and Azerbaijan itself rejected the offer to send an observation mission to Nagorno Karabakh to clarify this issue, which I made on October 6 of this year in Prague.
There is no army of Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh, there is the Defense Army of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is perhaps a serious obstacle to implementing the genocidal policy. My perception is that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh have an army only and only because of the danger of being subjected to genocide.
Moreover, on October 31, during the trilateral meeting in Sochi, I presented the proposal of the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities on this topic: to create a demilitarized zone around Nagorno-Karabakh, with international guarantees, as a result of which Nagorno-Karabakh may not need a defense army of such a scale. That proposal is still in force, I believe.
We made and are making a demilitarization proposal also regarding the Armenia-Azerbaijan border zone, proposing to withdraw the troops from the border reestablished in 1991, creating a 3-kilometer demilitarized zone on both sides of the border. That proposal remains in force, and we sent an updated version of it to Azerbaijan yesterday. In any case, I must record that the armed forces of Azerbaijan must be withdrawn from all occupied parts of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, and this our position will never be changed in any way.
If Azerbaijan tries to justify with fictitious reasons and ex post facto the aggression against the Republic of Armenia, occupation of territories in May, November of last year, the aggression launched on September 13, 2022, the shelling of 36 settlements in the sovereign territory of Armenia, including Goris, Jermuk, Vardenis, Kapan, Geghamasar, the displacement of 7,600 civilians, including 1,437 children, 99 persons with disabilities, the targeting of 193 residential houses, 3 hotels, 2 schools, one medical center, the killing of 211 Armenians, including 3 civilians, the extrajudicial executions of at least 11 prisoners of war, including the torture and humiliating treatment of the bodies of female servicemen cannot be justified, and all calls to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice are unequivocally righteous.
The demand of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to stop violations of the line of contact by the Azerbaijani troops and withdraw the troops from the area of responsibility of the peacekeepers is also righteous, as well as to renounce the genocidal policy of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. A manifestation of this policy was the explosion by Azerbaijan of the only pipeline supplying Nagorno-Karabakh with natural gas in March 2022 in conditions of unprecedented cold, and the obstruction of its restoration for a long period. During the same period, the units of the Azerbaijani armed forces illuminated concrete apartments and districts of a number of Armenian villages of Nagorno-Karabakh with strong searchlights at night hours, threatening residents to leave their homes, and calling for Islamic prayer combined with gunshots, performing “azan” through super-powerful loudspeakers.
And now the authors of this behavior want to accuse Armenia of anti-Islamic practices, while our respect for the Islamic religion and civilization is unquestionable. The Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people have fraternal feelings and partnership relations with dozens of Islamic countries and peoples, while Azerbaijan, with its above-mentioned practices, reminds of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which discredit Islam.
Dear colleagues, dear people.
This is the first time I am talking about all of this in such detail, and I am speaking in such detail because I see that Azerbaijan is trying to attribute its treacherous behavior to Armenia.
But this in itself would not be a problem if it did not occur in an environment where international and regional security faces serious challenges. If we pay attention to the speeches of the President of Azerbaijan, he actually threatens everyone: Russia, the United States of America, France, Iran, the European Union. Azerbaijan also continues to obstruct the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey, which can undoubtedly contribute to regional stability.
Of course, I understand that the global energy agenda has excited the president of Azerbaijan, but I also think that it is time for the international community to cooperatively take concrete measures regarding the actions of Azerbaijan, which have become a growing threat to the peace, stability, security, and democracy of the region. Especially, when we see that Azerbaijan continues to baselessly accuse Armenia of violating the ceasefire regime. Experience shows that the spread of such fake news becomes a prelude to new aggression. I have had occasion to say that sometimes Azerbaijan conducts skirmishes between its positions located in the occupied territories of Armenia in order to blame Armenia. And this has become a recurring practice.
I have to record that Azerbaijan also continuously violates point 8 of the trilateral declaration of November 2020 on the exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons, continuing to detain many citizens of the Republic of Armenia and trying to make this humanitarian issue a subject of petty bargaining.
Azerbaijan continuously makes the subject of missing persons an object of speculation, trying to create the impression that only it has that problem, and as if Armenia is unconstructive in the context of solving this humanitarian issue.
Meanwhile, this is an equally urgent and painful problem for the Republic of Armenia. The number of missing persons of the Armenian side from the first Karabakh war is 777, from the 44-day war – 203. We even have 16 missing persons since September 13, and the bodies of these soldiers are in the territories that appeared under Azerbaijani rule, and Azerbaijan is delaying their return to Armenia using all possible methods and fictitious pretexts. And since 2020, the Armenian side has returned to Azerbaijan 130 bodies of the missing persons from the first war and actively continues the work in this direction, which is extremely difficult due to the lack of any data.
As you know, Armenia also made a humanitarian gesture after the 2020 war by handing over to Azerbaijan all the maps of minefields in 7 regions, but Azerbaijan also turned this into an object of aggression and hostility rather than creating an atmosphere of mutual trust.
Dear colleagues, dear people.
Nevertheless, completing my speech, I must record that the Republic of Armenia is faithful to all its obligations, to all agreements reached.
I want to reaffirm our commitment to the agreements reached in Prague and Sochi, that is, to delimit and demarcate the borders with Azerbaijan and sign peace treaty by mutually recognizing each other’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders on the basis of the UN Charter, the Alma Ata Declaration and Protocol of 1991.
We will make every effort in our power to complete the delimitation of Armenia-Azerbaijan borders as soon as possible, to unblock all regional transportation and economic connections, to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan as soon as possible, because we are truly and sincerely committed to the peace agenda.
But if anyone thinks that the peace agenda is the “peaceful anihilation” of the Republic of Armenia or the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, they are sorely mistaken.The peace agenda is the peaceful development and coexistence of the Republic of Armenia and the region, and we will achieve our goal.”