By Victoria Ojeme
A diplomate and Azerbaijani expatriate in Nigeria has warned that Armenian militaries and Armenian-backed militias in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno–Karabakh region could destabilize an al-ready fragile region even further.
Billura Bayramova, the Founder of Friends of Azerbaijan Organization in Nigeria said Arme-nia’s occupation of parts of Azerbaijan is no different from Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea in Ukraine or its occupation of the Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia in Georgia.
On Wednesday, several people killed and dozens wounded in attack on eastern Azerbaijan, as clash over Nagorno-Karabakh intensified.
Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of using cluster munitions in two days of attacks, killing at least 25 people and wounding dozens in Barda, eastern Azerbaijan, near Nagorno-Karabakh.
Armenia has denied carrying out the attacks on Tuesday, when four people were killed, and Wednesday, when 21 died.
The New York Times reports that for years, the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia had agreed to postpone discussion about the status of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, to avoid inflaming passions. But that changed suddenly this spring, when Arme-nia’s populist prime minister declared the area indisputably Armenian.
To Azerbaijanis, who lost a bitter, unresolved war with Armenia over the region in the 1990s, the remark by the prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, landed with explosive force. Even more infuriating, it was delivered in Shusha, a city that Azerbaijanis regard as their cultural capital but that lies in territory lost during the war.
“The final nail in the coffin of the negotiation process was when he said that Nagorno-Karabakh was Armenian,” said Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy adviser to the Azerbaijani president.
The two countries returned to all-out war a month ago, with Azerbaijan determined to retake the roughly 13 percent of its land that Armenia seized 26 years ago, displacing 800,000 Azerbaijanis in the process. The fighting threatens to draw in Turkey, on the Azerbaijani side, and Russia, which backs Armenia
According to Billura Bayramova, on September 27, 2020, major fighting broke out along the front lines of the decades-old Nagorno–Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
She said that far from being a small skirmish, fighting is taking place along the entire front-line. “On October 1, the U.S., along with Russia and France, issued a joint statement as the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group for an end of hostilities and the resumption of talks. However, neither side, not less Azerbaijan, which seems to have the upper hand right now, has shown a desire to return to the negotiating table.
“The fighting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian militaries and Armenian-backed mili-tias in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno–Karabakh region could destabilize an already fragile region even further.
“The conflict started in 1988 after the local assembly of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Re-public’s (S.S.R.’s) Karabakh Autonomous Oblast voted to join the Armenian S.S.R. In 1991, a referendum was held in the same region about whether to unify with the Armenia or not. During the referendum, the Azerbaijani minority living in the Karabakh Autonomous Oblast boycotted the vote. Both the local assembly’s vote in 1988 and the referendum in 1991 were considered illegitimate by the government in Baku at the time. This eventually led to a bloody war between Armenia and Armenian-backed separatists and Azerbaijan that left 30,000 people dead, and many hundreds of thousands more internally displaced.
“Upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late 1991, the newly independent countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turk-menistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan agreed and signed the Alma-Ata Protocols, which stated each country is committed to “recognizing and respecting each other’s territorial integrity and the inviolability of the existing borders.” This included the Azerbaijan S.S.R.’s Karabakh region remaining part of the newly established Republic of Azerbaijan.
“By 1992, Armenian forces and Armenian-backed militias occupied the Nagorno–Karabakh region and all or parts of Azerbaijan’s Agdam, Fizuli, Jebrayil, Kelbajar, Lachin, Qubatli, and Zangelan districts. On this occupied territory Armenian separatists declared the so-called Re-public of Artsakh. “Artsakh” is a fictitious country and is not recognized by any other coun-try in the world—even Armenia.
“During 1992 and 1993, the U.N. Security Council adopted four resolutions on the Nagorno–Karabakh war. Each resolution confirmed the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan to include Nagorno–Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts, as well as calling for the withdrawal of all occupying forces from Azerbaijani territory. A cease-fire agreement was signed by all sides in 1994.
“The Minsk Group was established by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Eu-rope (OSCE) at the Budapest summit in 1994. The OSCE consists of 12 members, with France, Russia, and the United States serving as permanent co-chairs. The Minsk Group was tasked with bringing a lasting peace to the war, but over the years had difficulty finding a framework for negotiations to which all sides could agree.
“Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said on Sunday one civilian was killed and four wounded in an Armenian rocket attack on its second city of Ganja, and Baku threatened to retali-ate by destroying military targets inside Armenia.
“The death toll in a recent Armenian missile attack on Azerbaijan’s Ganja city, despite a cease-fire, rose to nine including four women on Sunday.
As many as 34 others, among them 16 women and six children, are injured, the Prosecu-tor General’s Office in Azerbaijan said in a statement.
“The Armenian attacks continued despite a humanitarian truce agreed on Saturday for the exchange of prisoners and retrieval of bodies in Nagorno-Karabakh, an internation-ally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.
“Hikmat Hajiyev, assistant to the Azerbaijani president, said the attacks were Armenia’s “policy of vandalism and barbarism” against Azerbaijani civilians, and “an act of geno-cide.”
“Attacking civilians with destructive missiles is a war crime, a manifestation of immoral behavior of Armenia’s political-military leadership, he tweeted.
“The armistice came after a trilateral meeting in Moscow on Friday between the foreign ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.
“Between Sept. 27, when the clashes began, and October 11, as many as 41 Azerbaijani civilians have been killed and 205 injured.
“Some 1,165 houses, 57 residential and commercial buildings, and 146 public buildings have also been destroyed or damaged, the prosecutors said.
“Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said their army repulsed Armenian at-tacks throughout the night,” Bayramova said.