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|Azerbaijan Wednesday slammed archrival Armenia for “creating obstacles” in peace negotiations during the 30 years it occupied Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory of Karabakh.
“It is indicative that Armenia is not interested in a peace agreement when it opposes the clauses excluding territorial claims against Azerbaijan in the text of the peace agreement,” a spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in response to comments by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian a day earlier.
“Armenia creates an opportunity for future violations even while the agreement is being prepared, hides these non-constructive approaches and comes up with ideas such as ‘international mechanisms’ and an ‘international guarantee institution,'” Aykhan Hajizada said in a statement published by the ministry.
Hajizada argued that Yerevan’s opposition to mediation efforts from the European Union by way of various excuses “demonstrates that it has not given up the practice of creating obstacles to negotiations during the occupation period for nearly 30 years.”
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry further said that Armenia aims to cover up “possible military provocations” by accusing Baku of denying “imaginary agreements” and claiming that Azerbaijan will intensify the situation on their shared border.
“The fact that the prime minister of Armenia declared during the briefing that he was ready to sign the project in which only Armenia’s proposals were mentioned and Azerbaijan’s proposals were not taken into account is another proof of his indifference to the peace process,” the statement highlighted, adding Armenia’s “destructive activities” should be condemned and prevented by the international community.
Since 1991, tensions have persisted between Azerbaijan and Armenia, stemming from the illegal occupation of Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan and seven surrounding regions by the Armenian military.
The conflict escalated in the fall of 2020 when the Armenian Army broke cease-fire agreements by incessantly attacking Azerbaijan, which lead to Azerbaijan liberating numerous cities, villages and settlements from Armenian forces in a 44-day conflict, which left over 6,500 dead.
The peace agreement brokered by Russia in the aftermath is widely regarded as a significant victory for Azerbaijan as Armenia ceded territories it had controlled for decades but the deal has been broken several times since then.
Tensions soared between the two nations in December when Baku and Yerevan traded accusations over a blockade of the Lachin corridor, the only road linking Karabakh to Armenia, where Azerbaijani environmental activists have been protesting the illegal mining of Azerbaijani resources in the region, currently monitored by a Russian peacekeeping contingent deployed after the 2020 deal.
Most recently, another flareup in violence in early March saw at least five people killed on both sides.
‘Blow to peace’
The Foreign Ministry statement also lambasted Pashinian for remarks that are “completely groundless” and “grossly distort historical facts,” which is “another blow to the process of establishing peace in the region.”
“The Armenian prime minister’s denial of the fact that Azerbaijanis were forcibly evicted from their lands in the territory of Armenia indicates his intention to justify the systematic and purposeful policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Armenia for decades,” the ministry said.
It further noted that Pashinian’s attempts to intervene in the dialogue between Azerbaijan and its Armenian residents in the Karabakh region and his use of “provocative statements” against Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity are “unacceptable.”
“The fact that Armenia ignores our position that the discussion on the reintegration of residents of Armenian origin is an internal affair of Azerbaijan and that foreign countries have no role in this matter indicates that it has not given up the policy of aggression that it started against our country in the early 90s, under the guise of the principle of ‘peoples determining their own destinies,'” Baku’s statement said.
“The Prime Minister of Armenia should understand that the rights of the Armenian residents of the Karabakh region can never prevail over the rights of the Azerbaijani population of the region, and Azerbaijan applies and will only apply an equal approach to the different ethnic peoples living in its territory,” it added.
Azerbaijan on Monday invited representatives of Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region to hold a second round of talks on their reintegration into Azerbaijani society, the first of which took place on March 1 at the headquarters of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.