Press Release of the Press Service Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Armenian state propaganda, acting in its traditional way, is actively making up and circulating the fake news with a view to mispresenting the situation around the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The key mission of this smear campaign is to deceive the international community and to undermine the just position of Azerbaijan, which is based on the norms and principles of international law, and the relevant numerous decisions taken by international organizations, including the UN Security Council.
We reiterate that in a blatant violation of international law, including international humanitarian law during almost 30 years, Armenia commits armed aggression against Azerbaijan and occupies 20 percent of internationally recognized territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan accompanied by the ethnic cleansing of close to 1 million Azerbaijanis from their homes, misappropriation of private and public property in the occupied territories, the pillage of historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan in these territories, illegal exploitation, looting and plundering of natural resources and economic potential of the seized lands, illegal settlement of ethnic Armenians into these areas and illegal infrastructure changes.
Having exploited the political settlement process, as well as Azerbaijan’s commitment to this process for almost 30 years, Armenia took consistent steps to consolidate the results of the occupation of territories of Azerbaijan aiming at their annexation.
Being against the political settlement which rejects the status-quo based on illegal use of force, and having undertaken a chain of provocative statements and actions undermining this process, Armenia finally resorted to large-scale aggression against Azerbaijan on September 27, 2020 by shelling the military positions of Azerbaijan and densely populated residential areas along the entire frontline. The Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan were compelled to launch a counter-offensive operation.
In this regard, we restate the following:
- The Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan act on the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan within the limits of self-defense to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and ensure the safety and security of its citizens;
- The counter-offensive operation of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan continues to be conducted exclusively within the limits of international humanitarian law and all the obligations under international humanitarian law are strictly followed in close cooperation with the International Committee of Red Cross;
- The Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan do not fight against the civilians, including the citizens of Azerbaijan of Armenian origin, and do not target civilians and civilian infrastructure in the occupied territories;
- The Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan do not possess and consequently do not use any prohibited weapon or ammunition.
We underline that Armenia has occupied the territories of Azerbaijan and rejecting to withdraw from these territories in violation of demands of the international community, first and foremost, the four resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in 1993 (822, 853, 874 and 884) resorted to the brutal tactic of terror by deliberately targeting large civilian settlements of Azerbaijan, including those located far away from the frontline, such as Ganja, Barda and Tartar with heavy artillery and missiles, including ballistic and cluster munitions with a view to compensating the heavy defeat it faces on the battlefield from the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan. As a result, 92 civilians, among them 11 children and 27 women were killed, 404 civilians, including children, women and the elderly were seriously wounded. Civilian infrastructure, including medical and educational facilities, critical public infrastructure and private property were inflicted serious damage. Three consequent announcements of humanitarian ceasefire did not stop Armenia from committing terrorist attacks on civilians.
The facts testifying these reckless attacks of Armenia on civilians and civilian infrastructure amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity have been presented to the international community, including through the representatives of diplomatic corps accredited in Azerbaijan and international institutions and structures, such as the International Committee of Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International as well as foreign mass media representatives.
We recall that according to public statements of high-level Armenian officials, since the outbreak of hostilities the majority of Armenians residing in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan have already left these territories for Armenia. The Azerbaijani side repeatedly appealed to those remaining in the area to stay away from military installations and refrain from taking a part in the military hostilities, since this would undermine their status as civilians and turn them into combatants. Furthermore, worth to mention that Armenia widely uses mercenaries and foreign terrorist fighters in its military operations against the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, which have been extensively documented, including by different international media resources.
Armenia in an open attempt to cover-up its above-mentioned wrongdoings constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity brazenly accuses Azerbaijan of the same with a view to diverting the attention of the international community, and to that end carries out a massive campaign of fake news. Professional analysis of video and photo materials presented by Armenia to substantiate its claims proves that all these are nothing more than pre-fabricated falsifications.
The Azerbaijani side once again resolutely rejects these groundless accusations of Armenia and renews its appeals to the international community to be vigilant against Armenia’s deliberate actions to cover-up its crimes through a smear campaign against Azerbaijan.
The position of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict has always been consistent and based on international law and related resolutions of the UN Security Council. Azerbaijan has always been stating its readiness for negotiations for their implementation within the OSCE Minsk Group format.