Armenia has been occupying the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent regions of Azerbaijan for the past 28 years. This is despite four UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884 of 1993) and a UN General Assembly resolution urging Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its military forces from the occupied territories. It is a violation of the fundamental norms and principles of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols.
Armenia keeps trying to legalize the consequences of the war and raise the international prestige of the separatist regime established by Armenia in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. By constantly violating the cease-fire achieved in 1994, Armenia tries to consolidate the existing status-quo.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that Armenia’s continuing military aggression against Azerbaijan and the presence of its armed forces in Azerbaijan’s territories remain a significant threat to regional peace and security. For the past two years, a chain of provocations by the new government of Armenia, both in word and deed, has undermined the negotiation process for settlement of the conflict.
Disproving whatever expectations the international community might have, the leadership of Armenia, since the very first days of assuming power, has opted to replicate the annexationist policy of its predecessors, and gone even further by stating “Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is Armenia. Period.”
The Armenian government has recently adopted a military doctrine and national security strategy that envisages a concept of a “new war for new territories,” and defines the strategic goal of the country in the negotiation process as safeguarding the outcomes of war. Over the past few weeks, Azerbaijan has issued repeated warnings to the international community that Armenia is preparing for a new act of aggression and war.
The new act of aggression by Armenia against Azerbaijan is the continuation of the latest provocations by the Armenian side, including the attempted armed attack in the direction of the Tovuz region between July 12 and 16, the sabotage-reconnaissance group’s provocation in the direction of the Goranboy region, the illegal settlement policy in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, as well as the provocative statements and activities of the Armenian leadership.
On Sept. 27, the armed forces of Armenia blatantly violated the cease-fire by launching further aggression against Azerbaijan, intensively shelling the positions of the armed forces of Azerbaijan along the frontline using large-caliber weapons, mortar launchers and artillery. The first day of the Armenian attack resulted in casualties among civilians and military servicemen of Azerbaijan.
Extensive damage has been inflicted on many homes and civilian infrastructure. The bombardment of densely populated civilian areas and installations along the frontline by Armenia’s armed forces has been deliberate and targeted. To prevent further military aggression by Armenia and provide for the security of densely populated civilian residential areas, the armed forces of Azerbaijan undertook counteroffensive measures within the right of self-defense and in full compliance with international law.
Being well aware that the illegal presence of the armed forces of Armenia in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions of Azerbaijan is a serious threat to regional peace and security, and demonstrating the principled position based on the norms and principles of international law on the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan and its illegal activities, the international community should strongly condemn Armenia’s policy of aggression and provocative activities against Azerbaijan and force Armenia to comply international law, including its commitments under international humanitarian law.
Full responsibility for the present situation falls on the political-military leadership of Armenia. The South Caucasus will never have stability and peace until Armenia vacates the occupied lands.
• Ramil Imranov is a career diplomat who has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan since 2000. He serves as a counselor at the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.