BAKU, Azerbaijan, Aug.6
Armenia’s recent actions and statements clearly damage the established negotiation format and undermine any realistic prospects for the peace process over Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the US Elin Suleymanov wrote in his article published by the authoritative US media outlet Newsmax, Trend reports on August 6.
The ambassador stressed that the latest flare of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July came at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region with health and safety of citizens at the top of most governments’ agenda.
However, Armenia’s own COVID-19 crisis did not prevent its military from launching an attack against Azerbaijan in the direction of Tovuz district across the international border between the two nations, the article said.
The ambassador points to the fact that Armenia’s attack took place hundreds of miles north from the line of contact in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and that it clearly speaks about the intentions behind this latest act of aggression,
“The protracted Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict remains a major threat to peace and security in greater Eurasia. Armenia’s illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing campaign of about 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally-recognized territory has caused a significant humanitarian challenge by displacing a million people,” said the article. “Now, 30 years later, the internally displaced persons still live in exile unable to return to their homes.”
Suleymanov noted that in spite of the four UN Security Council resolutions and numerous other international documents calling for immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops, Armenia continues to defy basic principles of international law and negotiation efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by France, Russia and the US.
“Although formally independent, Armenia has never really acquired full sovereignty due to its constant conflicts with neighbors and external dependencies,” the ambassador said adding that its borders are guarded by Russian border guards, it has a foreign military base on its territory and it has minimal control over its own economy.
“Today, Armenia remains one of the last relics of the Soviet past in the region offering little strategic value and unable to move forward towards integration and growth,” Suleymanov stated. “Similarly, Armenian society continues to be plagued by its poor record on anti-Semitism and its uneasy relationship with Nazi collaborators and Middle Eastern terrorist groups. With a high ratio of emigration, Armenia was recently ranked as the angriest nation globally. Some of this anger spills outside Armenia’s borders.”
Touching upon recent violent attack of Armenian radicals on small group of Azerbaijanis during a protest in front of the Azerbaijani Consulate General in the US Los Angeles, he noted that the local police department has launched its investigation.
“A quick look at the map would reveal that Armenia’s reckless militarism has much wider ramifications.” he wrote. “The South Caucasus region includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and is a key strategic area of the world. For instance, Azerbaijan, which is the only nation in the world that borders both Russia and Iran, is also an important partner and friend of Israel.”
“Moreover, Azerbaijan provides the unique connection between Europe and Asia across the energy-rich Caspian Sea and its capital city of Baku is the origination point of the strategic Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which provides some 40 percent of Israel’s annual oil supply and was once featured in the James Bond film, “The World is Not Enough,” said the ambassador.
Suleymanov also reminded that the Southern Gas Corridor pipeline, beginning in Azerbaijan, spans such countries as Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy.
“These pipelines along with the railways connecting Asia to Europe and the critical overflight corridor for NATO aircraft transiting to and from Afghanistan all pass in the vicinity of the area attacked by Armenia.”
“Unable to add any value to development and cooperation, Armenia chose to reassert its relevance by threatening regional security and energy infrastructure of global significance,” the article reads. “Just months before the Southern Gas Corridor is fully operational, Armenian military attacks some 15 miles from its route.”
As the ambassador pointed out, Armenia attacked the area along the border, where Azerbaijan has been de-escalating by replacing its Army units with lighter armed border guards, and shelled residential houses causing casualties and damage.
“By striking across the international border far away from the line of contact of the two militaries, Armenia hoped to trigger support from its treaty allies under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO),” he wrote.
However, this attempt to enlarge the scope of the conflict failed and the CSTO rejected Armenia’s request for support since it was obvious who initiated the hostilities, the ambassador stressed.
“Armenia’s leaders could have heeded Secretary Pompeo’s call for substantive peace talks and engage in meaningful negotiations with Azerbaijan to ensure a brighter future for the Armenian people and a lasting peace for the entire South Caucasus. Instead, Armenia once again acted as a rogue player and a proxy by attacking the key elements of prosperity and security architecture for the region and beyond,” Suleymanov emphasized.
“The international community should help people of Armenia by explaining to their leaders that the dividends of peace are abundant and the costs of aggression continue to rise,” the ambassador concluded.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on the withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.