The spokesman for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hikmat Hajiyev, has issued a statement on the 26th anniversary of the occupation of the Lachin region of the Republic of Azerbaijan by Armenia.
The statement reads as follows:
“On May 18, 1992 as a continuation of the policy of military aggression pursued by the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan Lachin district, which was not part of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of Azerbaijan, was occupied by the armed forces of Armenia.
As a result of the occupation, the inhabitants of Lachin district were subjected to ethnic cleansing, and currently, more than 77,000 Lachin residents live as internally displaced persons (IDP) in different regions of Azerbaijan. Armenia also has inflicted serious damage to state and private property of Lachin region. 217 cultural, 101 educational, 142 healthcare, 462 commercial enterprises and 30 communications, 2 transport and various other production facilities were plundered and destroyed.
54 historical monuments of world significance, more than 200 monuments of national significance have been subjected to vandalism by Armenia. The sixth century Albanian Aghoghlan cloister and the fourteenth century Malik Ajdar tomb, the mosque in Garygyshlag village and the ancient cemetery in Zabukh village are among them. The Lachin Museum of History and its unique collection of ancient gold, silver and bronze artefacts were plundered. Also, the silver handbag, looted exhibit of the Lachin History Museum, was sold at London's Sotheby's auction for $ 80,000.
Armenia, blatantly violating its commitments under the Geneva Conventions continues its illegal actions in the occupied Lachin district such as changing geographic names of the region, exploiting its natural resources and turning them into the source of illegal income, deliberate settlement of mainly Syrian refugees of Armenian origin into Lachin district and altering its demographic situation.
The European Court of Human Rights in the case Chiragov and others v. Armenia ruled in favour of Azerbaijani nationals who were forcibly displaced from the occupied Lachin district of Azerbaijan, recognizing continuing violations by Armenia of a number of their rights under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, namely, those relating to the protection of property (Article 1 of Protocol No. 1), the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8 of the Convention) and the right to an effective remedy (Article 13 of the Convention).
Of particular importance is the determination by the Court, in paragraphs 19-20, that the district of Lachin, in particular the town of Lachin, was under military attack; that in mid-May 1992, Lachin was subjected to aerial bombardment, in the course of which many houses were destroyed; that the town was looted and burned; that Lachin and the surrounding villages were completely destroyed during the military conflict.
The occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions of Azerbaijan by Armenia and the ethnic cleansing conducted against the Azerbaijani population in the occupied territories clearly demonstrate that policy pursued by Armenia is the acquisition of territory by use of force.
Under the aggravating conditions of military aggression of Armenia, the UN Security Council adopted resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993). The UNSC resolutions condemned the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan and reaffirmed respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the inviolability of its internationally recognized borders. In those resolutions, the Security Council also confirmed that the Nagorno-Karabakh region is part of Azerbaijan, and demanded immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Instead of implementing demands of UNSC resolutions Armenia pursues the policy of annexation of occupied lands of Azerbaijan.
Armenia’s attempts to present the results of illegal use of force against Azerbaijan in contravention of the imperative norms of international law and the UN Charter, and massive violation of fundamental rights of more than 700.000 Azerbaijanis who were forcefully expelled from the occupied territories as “self-determination” or “human rights” of less than 90.000 Armenian ethnic minority living in Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan is absurd and do not have any moral, legal or political justification. It only aimed at concealing the true intentions of Armenia.
Armenia must finally understand that maintaining under the occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands can never produce desired political outcome and sustaining the status-quo of occupation is major cause of Armenia’s self-isolation and current systematic socio-economic and demographic crises. Ending occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands and withdrawal of Armenia’s forces from occupied territories can provide chances for comprehensive regional cooperation and contribute to ensurance of lasting peace.
Restoration of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and ensuring rights of Azerbaijani IDPs, including those from Lachin region to return to their native lands and eliminating the grave consequences of the conflict along being the commitment of the international community is an unconditional right of Azerbaijan under the Charter of the UN.
Azerbaijan, while supporting the intensification of international efforts towards the soonest resolution of conflict retains its rights under the Charter of UN to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty within internationally recognized borders and defend violated rights of its citizens.”