BULLETIN AGUST-2021 

H I G H L I G H T O F T H E F O R E I G N P O L I C Y O F R E P U B L I C O F A Z E R B A I J A N

I. Azerbaijan reiterates readiness for  a peace agreement with Armenia 

On August 14, President of the Republic of  Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has been interviewed by CNN Turk TV channel, in which he  commented on a series of topical issues that  remain pressing on the agenda. In an interview  with CNN Turk news channel, President Ilham  Aliyev reiterated Azerbaijan’s determination  to sign a peace agreement with Armenia,  urging Moscow to ensure the implementation  of all provisions of the November 10 trilateral  agreement signed by the Azerbaijani,  Armenian, and Russian leaders to end the 44- Day War. Asked as to “under what conditions  will Azerbaijani-Armenian relations enter the  next stage”, President Ilham Aliyev said that  Baku repeatedly stated that it wanted a peace  agreement with Armenia. Let Armenia and  Azerbaijan recognise each other’s territorial  integrity and begin the process of delimitation  and demarcation of the border, President  Ilham Aliyev underscored, adding that “we  have not received a positive response from  Armenia yet. It seems that Armenia is not  ready or is opposed to this. I said that it will be  a huge blunder and that they will regret it, as  we do not have to keep this proposal on the  table forever.” President Ilham Aliyev also urged Yerevan to  be transparent in dealing with urgent issues on  the agenda of the two states. “If they object to  it, let them say openly that they do not want  to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan. In  this case, we will pursue our policy accordingly.  If Armenia is ready for this, if it is ready to  recognise Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity as  recognised by the whole world, then, of  course, long-term peace will come to the  region. We want it, and at the same time,  specific proposals to achieve it are already on  the table,” the president underscored.  Responding to a question about the  importance of the Zangezur corridor,  President Ilham Aliyev said that the “opening  of this corridor serves many purposes.”  Azerbaijan and Turkey will join a new transport  project, the president said, recalling that the  Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway was commissioned  four years ago. “The Zangazur corridor will be  a second connection. This will usher new  opportunities for us. At the same time,  Azerbaijan will be connected to Nakhchivan,  which is an integral part of it, by rail. We also  demand that a road be built via Meghri region  of western Zangezur, which is under Armenian  control. This is absolutely necessary.  Unfortunately, Armenia is opposing it. Until  recently, they were against the opening of the  Zangezur corridor. Just a few days ago, some  positive opinion was expressed there that they  do not object to it. However, the full operation  of the Zangezur corridor requires both a  railway and a highway. We should be able to  get in a car in Baku and comfortably go to  Turkey and Nakhchivan,” President Ilham  Aliyev noted. Asked to elaborate on a claim that Armenia is  sending troops to Karabakh via the Lachin  corridor, the president said “unfortunately,  this is true, of course. We have recently  identified this. Our Defence Ministry made an  official statement a few days ago to put an end  to this. Weapons and servicemen cannot be  sent from Armenia to the territories controlled  by Russian peacekeeping forces. This  contradicts the 10 November trilateral  statement. Unfortunately, it continues to this  day. We have repeatedly expressed our  position verbally. But since it did not work, we  officially declared it.” President Ilham Aliyev also added that  Azerbaijan was monitoring developments  along the Lachin corridor. “The Lachin corridor  is right before our eyes. When in Shusha, you  can see the Lachin corridor. There is a place  there and all the cars can be seen from above.  The distance from there is probably 10 meters.  Of course, we have technical means and  cameras there. We are also following the  events in the Lachin corridor and in the areas  controlled by Russian peacekeeping forces.  We know the exact number of cars going to  Khankandi. Recently, there were reports in our  media, including the fact that in the last month  – from 11 July to 8 August, about 5,000 people  left Khankandi for Armenia but did not return.  About 20,000 people left the city and 15,000  people entered it. So we even know the  number of people. Of course, this must stop.  There is no logical basis for this. Is Armenia  preparing for a new war? If so, we will take  preventive measures. I have said this and I  want to say again that if Armenian fascism tries  to raise its head ever again, we will crush it  again. The defeat in the second Karabakh war  should be a lesson for them,” the president  added.  In response to a question about expectations  from Russia, President Ilham Aliyev called  Moscow to honour its role as the mediator.  “This is our expectation. Russia, as a neighbour  of Azerbaijan and a close ally of Armenia,  certainly plays a special role in this region. This  is natural. We hope that Russia continues to  spare no efforts for the security of the region  and take steps to ensure lasting peace,” the  president stressed. At the same time, President Ilham Aliyev said  that he expected Russia not to arm Armenia.  “We have brought this issue to the attention of  Russian officials. We are worried about that,”  President Ilham Aliyev reiterated, adding that  under such circumstances, it does not make  any sense to arm Armenia. “We do not see it happening yet, but there  have been some statements by Russia. A few  days ago, during a meeting with the Armenian  defence minister, the Russian defence minister  said that the process of sending Russian  weapons to Armenia had begun. This is a very  worrying issue. Also, Armenia’s new minister  of defence made very irresponsible  statements that if Azerbaijan crosses the  Armenian border by an inch, then they would  open fire. In other words, it seems that the  second Karabakh war has not served as a  lesson for everyone yet. If this is the case, then  we are ready to teach them another lesson.  Therefore, we hope that Russia does not arm  Armenia, because there is no need for that,”  President Ilham Aliyev underscored. Speaking about Iran, the president said that  the new Iranian president had come to power  there. “Their regional policy is being  developed. No appointments have been made  yet. Of course, the initial statements about  both Azerbaijan and neighbouring countries  are positive. But, of course, it will take time for  the new leadership to state their policy on this  issue and the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.  We look forward to hearing it,” President  Ilham Aliyev added. 

II. President Ilham Aliyev visits Fuzuli  and Shusha 

President Ilham Aliyev started his visit to the  towns of Fuzuli and Shusha in Karabakh on  August 29, inspecting the ongoing  construction of Fuzuli International Airport.  Describing Fuzuli International Airport as “the  air gates of Karabakh”, President Ilham Aliyev  noted that it would be put into operation this  year. President Ilham Aliyev also inaugurated  the construction of a residential  neighbourhood in Shusha consisting of 25  buildings that would accommodate around  12,000 people. Next year Azerbaijan will  celebrate the 270th anniversary of Shusha’s  foundation. Large construction projects have  been carried out in Shusha since the start of its  reconstruction last January. Among the  completed projects are “Victory Road” – dubbed as such by President Ilham Aliyev to  commemorate the path used by the Armed  Forces of Azerbaijan to liberate Shusha from  Armenian occupation during the 44-Days War  – high-voltage electricity lines, water pipelines,  two hotels and several cultural sites. The  construction of the two-lane 101 km “Victory  Road” started 10 months ago and is planned to  be completed in September 2021. The road is  getting built by the Turkish “KOLIN” company,  “Azvirt” LLC and “Korpu Bina Tikinti” under the  supervision of the State Agency for Roads of  Azerbaijan.  During the opening of Molla Panah Vagif’s  Poetry Days in Shusha on 30 August, President  Ilham Aliyev also touched upon the history of  the negotiations. “As you know, the  negotiations continued for nearly 30 years,  and there was no result. The current  developments, the period during the Second  Karabakh War and the actions of world powers  show that this issue could have never been  resolved through negotiations. Because they  wanted us, the Azerbaijanis, to put up with the  situation. They tried to present this situation,  that is the frozen conflict, as the only possible  option,” the president stressed. “I chose the  location for the five-star hotel. The enemy was  constructing a building for the so-called  parliament of the self-proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh republic there. This was meant to  insult us. There is no such thing as the  Nagorno-Karabakh republic. They already  constructed the foundation of the building and  its walls. On my instructions this devil’s lair was  destroyed,” the president said.  

III. By rebuilding Karabakh

Azerbaijan  restores historical justice With the 44-Day War, the balance of power in  the region has sharply shifted in favor of  Azerbaijan. For many years, Azerbaijanis have  faced historical injustice. However, in  September-November 2020, Azerbaijan  achieved a historic victory and launched  restoration work in the destroyed areas. By  rebuilding liberated lands Azerbaijan is  reversing the tide of history and finally  restoring historical justice. As an artificial  Soviet creation of 1923, the term “Nagorno Karabakh” has also lost its relevance after the  war. President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly  pointed out that there is currently no  administrative unit named Nagorno-Karabakh  in Azerbaijan.  As President Ilham Aliyev put it in his meeeting  with the families of martyrs, war-disabled and  heroes of the 44-Day War on August 26, “In the  1920s, our people suffered two major blows.  First, in 1920. At that time, the Soviet  government tore our historical lands of  Zangazur apart from Azerbaijan and annexed it  to Armenia. After that, Azerbaijanis of that  region were deported. Secondly, in 1923, an  artificial entity was created in our territory – the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region,  although there were no grounds for its  creation. There was no historical basis, there  was no geographical basis, there was no  economic basis. There was no basis at all.  Simply put, this artificial entity was injected  into our souls so that it could sit there like a  ticking bomb and explode at the right time.  And this is what happened. On 7 July 1923, the  Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was  established. Its central city was our Khankandi  settlement. It was also named after  executioner Stepan Shaumyan – Stepanakert.  Our people suffered two great blows. Then  there were other blows. The deportation of Azerbaijanis from the territory of Armenia – the lands of ancient Azerbaijan in 1940-1950,  the rise of Armenian separatism in the late  1980s and the failure of the Soviet government  to react to it. On the contrary, they provoked  the separatists. Their supporters laid claims on  us. The secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from  Azerbaijan and its annexation to Armenia was  a thesis put forward in Soviet times… As a  result, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous  Region was de facto separated from  Azerbaijan even in Soviet times. A special  committee was set up there. A pro-Armenian  man was appointed there from Moscow to  lead that committee. As a matter of fact, he  joined up with the Armenians and opposed  us.”  Pointed out that “the Azerbaijanis had become  a defenseless community in their own  homeland,” the president added that “we are  reversing this anti-Azerbaijani policy now. We  are doing things that some people never even  dreamed of. Today, we have full ownership of  the region, we have a say, we have liberated  the occupied territories. We are now  strengthening our stance these lands.”  President Ilham Aliyev also pointed out that  “whereas 7 July 1923 was a tragedy for our  people, in 2021 we turned this black page. 7  July will go down in history as a great date.  Because on 7 July 2021, I signed a decree on  the establishment of the Karabakh and East  Zangazur economic zones, and historical  justice has been restored.” 

IV. Recent Armenian provocations  and gloomy outlook for Pax  Caucasia 

The cautious optimism about the nascent  prospects of enduring peace and cooperation  in the region after the 44-Day War is slowly  evaporating. Armenia is continuing to  purposefully escalate the situation in the  region. Border provocations have been  ongoing since the signing of the November 10  Trilateral Declaration but reached a peak over  the past few months. In this vein, the repeated  shellings of Azerbaijani positions in  Nakhchivan and liberated Kalbajar from  Armenia proper are on the rise. Furthermore,  the newly appointed Defense Minister Arshak  Karapetyan’s heightened rhetoric definitely  added more fuel to the fire when, referring to  the situation along the Armenia–Azerbaijan  border, he said that “Armenia reserves the  right to settle the issue by the use of force if  efforts for peaceful resolution fail. Armenia has also made attempts to further  infiltrate its armed troops into Azerbaijani  territories where Russian peacekeepers are  temporarily deployed. The Armenian side is  purposefully resorting to such provocations to  aggravate the situation. In a statement on  August 11, the Ministry of Defence of  Azerbaijan underlined that “the complete  withdrawal of the remnants of the Armenian  armed forces from the territory of Azerbaijan,  where the Russian peacekeeping forces are  temporarily deployed, was not ensured, as it is  provided for by the trilateral statement signed  on November 10, 2020, by the President of the  Republic of Azerbaijan, the President of the  Russian Federation and the prime minister of  Armenia,” adding that “in recent days,  Armenia having violated the trilateral  statement by moving its armed forces to the  territory of Azerbaijan, where Russian  peacekeepers are temporarily deployed, is  setting up its new posts near Mukhtarkend and  Shushakend, as well as in the territories to the  east of the administrative boundaries of the  Kalbajar and Lachin regions.” The Ministry of  Defence of Azerbaijan also called upon the  Russian peacekeepers to “put an end to the  deployment of the Armenian armed forces in  the territories of the Azerbaijan Republic,  where they are temporarily deployed.” The  Ministry of Defence underscorred that,  contrary to the 10 November statement,  Armenian troops continued to remain in the  part of Azerbaijan’s territories to which  Russian peacekeepers are deployed. The  statement went on say that the Azerbaijani  army is taking adequate measures, and these  kinds of cases are not allowed. However,  Armenia is purposefully resorting to these  kinds of provocations to aggravate the  situation. The statement said that this all was  taking place against a backdrop of an  irresponsible and provocative order by the  new Armenian defence minister, Arshak  Karapetyan, for the Armenian army to use  force against Azerbaijani troops. “All this is  happening against the background of  irresponsible and provocative order of the new  defense minister of Armenia Arshak  Karapetyan to the Armenian armed forces to  use force by any means. We would like to  remind that the Armenian former minister of  defense David Tonoyan also spoke out with a  provocative military doctrine that he used to  call “new wars, new territories.” His shameful  destiny is well-known,” the statement read. As Shahmar Hajiyev, a leading advisor at the  Center of Analysis of International Relations,  (AIR Center), pointed out, “Russia as the main  guarantor of stability and security in the region  has to ensure the full implementation of the  November deal, because any violation of the  document would negatively affect Russian  peacekeeping and peacemaking status. It  should be especially underlined that if Armenia  continues to move illegally armed forces to  Karabakh and rejects the reopening of the  Zangezur corridor, then the process will  undermine a Russia-brokered ceasefire deal. The trilateral agreement stipulated provisions  relating to the unblocking of all  communications in the region that, if properly  implemented, would set the stage for ushering  in an era of rapid development and peace. The  term Pax Caucasia, coined in the wake of the  signing of the November 10, 2020, and January  11, 2021, agreements, implied that better  times for the region may, indeed, be ahead.  However, recent regional developments,  especially those happening in the run-up to  and after the June 20 parliamentary elections  in Armenia, have stirred skepticism as to  whether all parties are equally invested in  making things move forward. Despite all the  gestures of goodwill by Azerbaijan aimed at  turning the page on hostility and embarking on  building a cooperative relationship with  Armenia after the war, Yerevan is still refusing  to honor its commitments under the trilateral  agreement. For example, about 4,000  Azerbaijanis went missing as a result of the  First Karabakh War in the early 1990s, and  even though Armenia had not given their  bodies to Azerbaijan, Baku, guided by  humanitarian principles, allowed Armenia to  search for their missing soldiers following the  44-Days War. What’s more, the accuracy of the  minefield maps recently handed over by  Armenia to Azerbaijan is only 25%. The launch of the “Zangezur Corridor” became  a fundamental issue between Yerevan and  Baku. Article 9 of the trilateral agreement  states that all communications in the region  will be unblocked, including between  Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan region. The  exact wording of Article 9 is as follows: “All  economic and transport links in the region  shall be restored. The Republic of Armenia  guarantees the safety of transport links  between the western regions of the Republic  of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan  Autonomous Republic in order to organize an  unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles,  goods in both directions.” The implementation  of this article would create unique connectivity  not only between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but  also with Russia, Turkey, and Iran and  potentially even the greater neighbourhood.  Armenia signed up to this and the subsequent  January 11, 2021, Moscow Trilateral  Agreement that established a working group  and set out a timeline for the implementation  of Article 9. However, after signing those  documents, Yerevan embarked on extensive  tiptoeing around this issue and making  controversial statements. In the early post-war  days, the then newly appointed Economy  Minister of Armenia, Vahan Kerobyan, noted  that “opening the borders will provide wide  opportunities. Our exporters will be able to  export their products to Russia or other  countries through more convenient roads than  we have now. Turkish ports will be open to us,  and many wide opportunities will be provided.  It’s possible that the Azerbaijani market will be  open for us and ours for them”. This was a  rather pragmatic statement that hinted to the  firm grasp within Armenia’s political elite of  the benefits of cooperation. At the same time,  post-reelection statements made by Nikol  Pashinyan himself have left many baffled as to  whether there is any clear vision in Armenia on  the issue at all, let alone a genuine intent  concerning the country’s obligations under the  November, 2020, trilateral agreement. At a  press conference with President of the  European, Council Charles Michel, during his  visit to Yerevan in mid-July, Pashinyan stated  that “the Azerbaijani authorities refuse to  provide the Armenian side with a corridor for  launching the Armenia–Georgia–Azerbaijan– Russia railway” and “threatening the  occupation of the sovereign territory of  Armenia.” This statement could not be further  from the truth, as Azerbaijan has repeatedly  made clear that it does not have territorial  claims towards any country. Unfortunately, so  far, Yerevan has chosen to ditch its obligations  under the relevant agreements, particularly  those related to the Zangezur Corridor, and  refuses to respond to Baku’s repeated calls to  sign a comprehensive peace treaty. On August 14, during his interview with CNN  Turk, President Ilham Aliyev called once again  for signing of a peace treaty with Yerevan  noting that “I have repeatedly stated that we  want a peace agreement with Armenia. Let  Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize each  other’s territorial integrity and begin the  process of delimitation, i.e., demarcation of  borders. But we have not received a positive  response from Armenia yet,” adding that “it  seems that Armenia is not ready for this or is  opposed to it. I said that it would be a huge  blunder and that they would regret it. Because  we do not have to keep this proposal on the  table forever”. President Ilham Aliyev also  stressed that “if they object to it, let them say  it openly that they do not want to sign a peace  agreement with Azerbaijan. In this case, we  will pursue our policy accordingly”. As Dr. Esmira Jafarova, a Board Member of the  Center of Analysis of International Relations  (AIR Center), pointed out, “the situation is  further aggravated by the repeated  provocations carried out by the remnants of  Armenian militias still positioned in the  Azerbaijani territories where Russian  peacekeepers are temporarily deployed.  Recently, there have been cases of shelling of  liberated Shusha by these Armenian militias.  Unfortunately, the very occurrence of such  incidents shows that the November 10  agreement is being breached not only by  Armenia, but also by the peacekeepers  themselves.” Article 4 of the November 10  agreement stipulated that “the peacekeeping  contingent of the Russian Federation shall be  deployed in parallel with the withdrawal of the  Armenian armed forces,” which makes clear  that no Armenian armed forces should now  remain in the liberated Azerbaijani territories.  This is a very serious issue, and any attempts  on the part of Armenian officials to  misinterpret this provision is nothing more  than another attempt to violate the existing  arrangements. This also shows that Armenia  lacks goodwill to implement the body and  spirit of this document. Therefore, we are  currently witnessing attempts to mess with the  language and text of the November 10, 2020,  trilateral declaration.  Moreover, external attempts to arm Yeravan in the wake of the latter’s increasingly  revanchist posture may not bode well for the  prospects of Pax Caucasia and the security of  the entire region. During his recent interview  with CNN Turk, President Ilham Aliyev also  warned against such a possibility underlining  that “our expectation is that Russia will not  arm Armenia… We do not see it happening yet,  but there have been statements by Russia. A  few days ago, during a meeting with the  Armenian defence minister, the Russian  defence minister said that the process of  sending Russian weapons to Armenia had  begun. This is a very worrying issue; therefore,  we hope that Russia does not arm Armenia  because there is no need for that”. The 44-Day War ended with Azerbaijan  restoring its territorial integrity. As the last  three decades showed the only viable way to  achieve sustainable peace is for all sides of the  conflict to accept new security architecture  based on the principle of territorial integrity  and mutual respect for international borders— on the basis of which, minority rights can then  be developed. There is no alternative to peace  in the South Caucasus and for the first time in  three decades, there is a real chance for the  region to heal old wounds and prosper. Pax  Caucasia could be a real thing if all parties are  equally interested in its materialization.  However, the worrying events that have  unfolded within the past few weeks could be  harbingers of the troubled waters that the  region might yet experience because of those  who do not want to leave the past in the past  and honour their commitments under the  existing arrangements. 

V. Environmental cost of occupation 

During the 30-year long occupation of  Azerbaijani territories, Armenia was engaged  in intentional destruction of regional  ecosystem through various scorched earth  techniques, destruction of environmentally  sensitive infrastructure, and unsustainable  resource extraction to finance the conflict.  Armenian occupational forces cut down more  than 54,000 hectares of forest, which is 20% of  the forests in the liberated lands. Many  international companies that were illegally  active in occupied territories of Azerbaijan  engaged in the exploitation of more than thirty  mining areas, often operating without any  environmental oversight. Deforestation as a  result of overharvesting, uncontrollable  resource extraction, and processing methods  in mining operations have severely damaged  the regional ecosystem through  transboundary impact from pollution and  through the contamination of water bodies.  In the past 27 years, Baku has repeatedly  appealed to the international community to  investigate the information about the illegal  disposal of nuclear and radioactive waste in  the occupied territories. During the occupation  years, every summer saw massive wildfires in  the occupied lands because of the lack of an  effective fire-management system and/or  because of indifference. This fact was well documented by the OSCE fact-finding mission  in 2006. The report documented that the  series of massive wildfires overran an area  amounting to 163.3 km2 in the eastern part of  the Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani territories  in the summer of 2006. On September 7, 2006,  a resolution entitled “The situation in the  occupied territories of Azerbaijan” by the UN  General Assembly in regard to the incidence of  massive fires stressed “the necessity of  urgently conducting an environmental  operation” and called for “an assessment of  the short-and long-term effects of the fires on  the environment of the region and measures  for its rehabilitation”. The results of the monitoring carried out by  the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources  of Azerbaijan after the 44-Days War and the  analysis of water samples taken from four  transboundary rivers have found that the  pollution in those rivers was several times  higher than the norm. According to the experts  from the Ministry of Ecology and Natural  Resources, the most polluted river is  Okhchuchay in Zangilan District. It is into this  river that wastewater from the two deposits  located on the Armenian side of the river is  released, which pollutes not only this river, but  also Araz River, which it flows into. Mining  companies dump their waste, or tailings, into  the river, creating environmental disaster of  enormous proportions for the wider region.  International organizations should pressure  Yerevan into halting pollution of  transboundary rivers. Around 70 percent of  Azerbaijan’s groundwater resources are  formed in neighboring countries due to the  transboundary water flows. Mining activities  along the rivers lead to the generation of large  quantities of heavy metal laden wastes which  are released in an uncontrolled manner,  causing irreversible contamination and  destruction of the regional ecosystem. One of  the largest mining enterprises in Armenia,  Zangazur copper-molybdenum plant located in  Syunik region at the Okhchuchay River, dumps  waste directly into the river without any  treatment, which does not adhere to any  environmental standards. The transboundary  river Okhchuchay, which is the Araz River’s left  tributary, is constantly polluted in Armenia by  wastes from the Kajaran Copper-Molybdenum  Plant and the Kafan Ore Refinery, which make  the water resources from this river virtually  unusable on the Azerbaijani territory.  The German Company CRONIMET is an active  player in the Armenian mining sector and the  main shareholder (60%) of the Gajaran  Copper-Molybdenum Plant and the Gafan Ore  Refinery. Many environmentalists remain completely dissatisfied with CRONIMET’s  response to the environmental impact of the  company’s activity. The German Embassy in  Azerbaijan claims that the German company  sold its shares in 2019. Also, according to the  German Ambassador, the company is a private  one and thus CRONIMET cannot bear any legal  and/or criminal responsibility when the  concerns were addressed to the German  Embassy. In fact, according to German laws  and regulations, the criminal offence leading  to corporate criminal liability does not necessarily have to be committed in Germany.  If a company has its seat in Germany,  corporate criminal liability can also arise from  criminal offences committed abroad if they are  linked to the company’s business.  Unfortunately, Armenia has not yet joined the  Helsinki Convention on Transboundary  Watercourses adopted in 1992. This  international document serves as a  mechanism for strengthening the measures  and global cooperation aimed at achieving the  environmentally sound management and  protection of the transboundary surface and  ground waters. As it was pointed out by Fuad  Chiragov, Head of Department at Center of  Analysis of International Relations, and Emin  Qarabagli, Head of International Cooperation  Department at the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, “since  Armenia denies any obligation before the  international community for protection of the  environment under law, the only way to stop  this crime is increasing awareness and  international pressure.” 

VI. Shining the spotlight on the  neglected humanitarian problem  of the Karabakh conflict: the fate  of missing persons According to the State Commission on  Prisoners of War, Hostages and Missing  Persons, the fate of 3890 missing people from  the first phase of the war between Azerbaijan  and Armenia remains unknown since the  1990s. These missing people are probably not  alive, their remains are in different parts of  Karabakh – in mass graves and wait for being  discovered by their dears and families. The war  in the 1990s was much more brutal for  civilians, out of 3890 missing people 719 were  civilians, including 71 children, 267 women,  and 326 elderly people. The most known tragic  event of the first Karabakh war happened in  Khodjali. The former president of Armenia said  in an interview that there was a deliberate  attack on civilians. That attack was well  documented by international human rights  organizations and media outlets.  Unfortunately, other tragedies and attacks on  civilians were not spotted and documented by  international human rights NGOs and media.  The return of Kalbajar to Azerbaijan helped to  uncover some mass graves. New facts were  obtained with regard to the tragedies of  Bashlibel. The newly discovered mass graves in  Bashlibel, along with the testimonies of the  witnesses demonstrate that the scale of  human rights violations. These violations  should be adequately evaluated and  addressed by the international community.  The Russian-brokered ceasefire deal on  November 9, 2020, stopped the 44-Day War  between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There were  some concerns about the mutual exchange of  prisoners of war (POW) and hostages, and the  exchange of dead bodies (Article 8). Since  November of 2020, Azerbaijan returned the  remains of 1618 Armenian military personal.  An active search for missing Armenian military  personal continues, however, despite  consistent demands Armenia has not delivered  any information about the fate of 3890 missing  people since the 1990s. As Fuad Chiragov,  Head of Department Center of Analysis of  International Relations (AIR Center), pointed  out, “decades and enormous efforts are  needed to heal the wounds of both societies.  Adequate international attention,  international prosecution of war criminals  might be required for confidence building  between societies; and to prevent future  tragedies too. Also, true, professional, and  humanitarian mediation of different  international NGOs which don’t pursue  geopolitical interests might help reconcile the  two societies and solve some humanitarian  issues like missing people. So far, the  international community, namely the Minsk  Group and its three Co-chairs failed to bring  the conflicting parties to a peaceful  resolution.”
Mirza İbrahimov 8, Baku, AZ1005, Azerbaijan, Phone: (+994 12) 596-82-39, (+994 12) 596-82-41, E-mail: info@aircenter.az www.aircenter.az 

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