Today, the efforts for durable peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia have become the hostage of Armenia’s policy of deliberate tension and revanchism, and face serious challenges.
Despite its first failure in December 2022, Armenia once again attempts to instrumentalize the UN Security Council for its political, military and informational manipulation campaign.
Moreover, Armenia is a country that had for almost 30 years brazenly disregarded the four resolutions of 1993 and series of Presidential Statements of the Security Council demanding full, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from the territory of Azerbaijan.
Armenia’s appeal to the Security Council on groundless allegations of “worsening humanitarian situation” and “continued blockade” in the region yet again comes at a time when Armenia itself deliberately and intentionally obstructs all the efforts made through international partners to find a balanced, law-based and reasonable solution on the ground.
As it is well-known, wide-range abuse of the Lachin road by Armenia over past three years necessitated Azerbaijan’s legitimate and legal action of establishing a border check-point to ensure security and order on its border. While Armenia attempted to portray this efforts as a “blockade” and requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an order on removal of the checkpoint, the ICJ in its order of July 6 has unanimously rejected this request.
Armenia did not reconcile with the reality of being deprived of the means to supply and sustain its not fully withdrawn armed forces in the territory of Azerbaijan, and illicitly extract Azerbaijan’s natural resources. Therefore, Armenia has started propaganda campaign worldwide, imposed series of military and other obstructions for the normal functioning of the border check-point, as well as for the use of other routes, such as Aghdam-Khankendi road for the delivery of goods to the Garabagh region of Azerbaijan.
Recently, following the series of intensive consultations and shuttle diplomacy efforts, agreement was finally reached with respect to delivery of humanitarian cargo to the Garabagh region through various routes, as well as the organization of the meeting between the Special Representative of Azerbaijan and representatives of local Armenian residents.
On the first case, concrete blocs and all other physical barriers imposed by the Armenian side on the use of Aghdam-Khankendi road should have been removed to allow the delivery of humanitarian cargo by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to meet the needs of local residents. This should have been followed by intensification of usage of the Lachin road by the ICRC within 24 hours. All the involved parties, including the Russian peacekeeping contingent and the ICRC, were prepared to realize this deal in practice.
On the second, a meeting between Azerbaijan’s Special Representative and representatives of local Armenian residents was agreed to take place in Yevlakh.
Regrettably, on August 5, 2023, Armenia, through its illegally installed puppet regime, backstepped from both agreements at a last moment by introducing politically motivated and illegitimate preconditions and various pretexts.
In other words, what Armenia cynically seeks from the international community in general, and the UN Security Council in particular, was indeed within reach days ago in the result of active support of partners, including the members of Security Council. This did not materialize only due to the refusal by Armenia itself.
Had Armenia and its subordinate illegal structure honor the agreement, the situation would have been solved in early August providing a reasonable framework for the delivery of humanitarian cargo to the residents of the Garabagh region, and facilitation of routes for the passage of persons, goods and vehicles.
Therefore, there should be no doubt that notwithstanding the intensive engagement by Azerbaijan with the Russian Federation, the United States, European Union and ICRC for finding ways out of the situation, Armenia is deliberately obstructing diplomatic efforts.
Appeal to the Security Council is a part of this campaign and is a serious blow to the efforts being made by involved actors, among them the members of Security Council.
In addition to this pattern, over past weeks, the Armenian armed forces illegally deployed in the territory of Azerbaijan in a blatant violation of international law, as well as Armenia’s commitment under paragraph 4 of the Trilateral Statement of the leaders of Azerbaijan, the Russian Federation and Armenia of 10 November, 2020, have intensified the military-engineering works and other military build-up.
The use of radio-electronic warfare equipment illegally deployed in the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan is of particular concern. Not only civilian aircrafts of the Azerbaijani Airlines, but also those of foreign countries have been target to radio-electronic interference over past weeks, posing serious risk for their safety.
In parallel to illegal military build-up and activities in the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan where the Russian peacekeeping contingent has been temporarily deployed, large-scale accumulation of weaponry and other military equipment and personnel along the undelimited state border has been also observed over past days in an apparent effort to go into another military adventure.
The above-mentioned fully resembles the pattern that had been typical to Armenia throughout almost 30 years until September 2020 to imitate talks, escape from previously undertaken commitments at last minutes, and commit political, military and other provocations at every stage of negotiation to evade from taking concrete decisions.
Moreover, such actions of Armenia testify to the fact that Armenia didn’t cease its territorial claims against Azerbaijan and her verbal recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity is different from her deeds on the ground.
Following the 2020 war, Azerbaijan offered a peace to Armenia based on equal and reciprocal respect for legitimate interests of both sides through mutual recognition of and respect for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders. On another track, Azerbaijan pursues the policy of reintegration of ethnic Armenian residents of the Garabagh region as equal citizens guaranteeing all the rights and freedoms envisaged in the Constitution of Azerbaijan and all relevant international human rights mechanisms that Azerbaijan is signatory. At the same time, Azerbaijan’s adherence to both these tracks is without prejudice to its right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity by all legitimate means safeguarded in the UN Charter and other universal international law instruments.
At this critical juncture, sober apprehension of existing risks and adequate response by international community to Armenia’s brazen provocations are necessary than ever to overcome the challenges facing the inter-state Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process and the reintegration of local ethnic Armenian residents into Azerbaijan’s political, legal and socio-economic framework.
It is important to ensure that the historic opportunity for durable peace is not missed.