Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hikmat Hajiyev has issued a statement on the 25th anniversary of the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Aghdam region by Armenia.
On July 23, 1993, in the course of the military aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan, Aghdam, one of the largest cities of Lower Karabakh, the administrative center of the Aghdam district, which was not part of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, was occupied, Hajiyev said in the statement.
“As a result of the aggression, a large part of the Aghdam district, the total area of which is 1154 sq. km, where 138 settlements are located, was occupied and the population there was subjected to ethnic cleansing. Armenia inflicted significant damage to the state and private property of the region. Because of the occupation, 122 settlements, 24,446 residential buildings, 48 industrial and construction enterprises, 160 school buildings, 65 health centers, 373 cultural infrastructure facilities, 1 theater, etc. were destroyed. Six thousand residents of the district were killed during the fighting for the defense of Aghdam. And the football club "Garabagh" from Aghdam became one of the world's rare examples of teams functioning in exile. Currently, more than 153,000 people from 200,000 inhabitants of the district live in various parts of Azerbaijan as internally displaced persons,” reads the statement.
“A significant part of the many historical monuments located in the occupied territories were destroyed, artificially changed in appearance and subjected to illegal archaeological excavations. Among them settlement of Uzerliktepe near the city of Aghdam dated the 2nd millennium BC, the temple of the 6th century, as well as the tomb and stone monuments of the 14th century in the village of Kangarli, the mausoleum of Gutlu Sary Musaoghlu dated 1314 in the village of Khachyndarband, the legacy of the Karabakh khanate belonging to the 18-19th centuries: Shahbulag fortress, palace and burial vaults of khan dynasty, etc. may be referred. The famous Museum of Bread in Aghdam was destroyed, and Juma mosque was turned into a cattle pen. In order to eradicate the memory of the primordial Azerbaijani population of these lands, the invaders changed even the name of Aghdam. Such actions make the goals pursued by Armenia quite obvious.”
Hajiyev stressed that during the occupation of Aghdam, Armenia once again showed itself as a party that ignores international obligations.
“Resolution No. 822, adopted by the UN Security Council in connection with the seizure of Kalbajar in April 1993, has commissioned to prepare a timetable of immediate measures for the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories. But, as noted in the report by the President of the Minsk Conference of the CSCE (now - OSCE) Mario Raffaelli dated July 27, 1993, when on July 22-23, the 9 member states of the Conference met in Rome to approve the schedule, the Armenians captured Aghdam, although previously they declared that they do not have such intentions,” he said.
In his statement, Hajiyev recalled that the world community expressed its unanimous position regarding the seizure of Aghdam.
“At the statement regarding this case the 9 member countries of the CSCE Minsk Group, "strongly condemned the offensive on" and asked "for withdrawal from the occupied territories" On July 29, 1993, the UN Security Council adopted resolution No. 853. It also demanded "the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from the district of Aghdam and all other recently occupied areas of the Republic of Azerbaijan." However, Armenia has evaded to fulfill its obligations.”
“Thus, at that stage opportunities to achieve the political settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and the unanimously adopted UNSCR were ignored and the current grave situation arose due to the seizure of other territories of Azerbaijan. According to the report of M. Raffaelli, "to withdraw immediately from the territories recently seized by force is the key factor in ensuring that peaceful negotiations can move forward". Non-constructive position taken by Armenia and its non-compliance with this fundamental demand remain the main reason for the lack of resolution of conflict,” says the statement.
Armenia, as the occupying state, grossly violating its obligations arising from the Geneva Conventions, continues its illegal activities in the Aghdam district, changing geographical names there, plundering the property and creating fires, Hajiyev emphasized.
He went on to say that the occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the surrounding regions by the Armenian armed forces, the ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijani population of the occupied territories clearly demonstrates that Armenia's real intentions are military occupation and acquisition of lands by force.
“Armenia must finally understand that the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories can never result in political outcome desired by Armenia and the status quo of occupation is one of the main reasons for the self-isolation of Armenia and its systemic socio-economic and demographic crisis. Ending the occupation of Azerbaijani lands and withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan can contribute to comprehensive regional cooperation and contribute to sustainable peace. Restoration of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as ensuring the rights of internally displaced persons from Aghdam and other occupied regions of the country to return to their native lands and elimination of serious consequences of the conflict, along being the commitment of the international community, are the inherent right of Azerbaijan as enshrined in the UN Charter. Azerbaijan supporting the efforts of the international community for the soonest resolution of conflict, retains its right to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders and violated rights of its citizens,” reads the statement.