Author: Namig MAILOV
The world is again shocked by a sinister crime committed by the Armenian military in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. On July 4, the Armenian military fired from the mortars and heavy grenade launchers the village of Alkhanly of Fizuli region. As a result, a 55-year-old resident of the village of Sahiba Allahverdiyeva and her two-year-old granddaughter Zakhra Guliyeva were killed. Another resident, Salminaz Guliyeva, was hospitalized with shrapnel wounds.
This event happened immediately after the next monitoring of the ceasefire on the contact line in Fizuli, according to the mandate of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office.
It is not the first time Azerbaijan faces barbaric attacks of the Armenian army against civilians, the elderly, women and children. According to the State Committee for Family, Women and Children, during the truce, "Thirty two Azerbaijani children suffered from Armenian terrorism. Thirteen of them died, nineteen were wounded with varying injuries." Let alone the brutal murders of Azerbaijani children in Khojaly, as the leaders of the Armenian terrorists themselves acknowledged. Incidentally, one of such terrorists is the current President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan.
A memory of the Armenian sniper's murder of a nine-year-old boy from the village of Orta Garvend of Agdam district, Fariza Badalova. An Armenian soldier made her mother suffer on March 8, 2011 just before the famous meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Kazan. In the summer of the same year, the Armenian military killed a thirteen-year-old resident of Tovuz region of Azerbaijan Aygun Shikhmaliyeva with a toy stuffed with explosives.
Immediately after the last incident in Alkhanly, official Yerevan declared that it had shelled the village, allegedly "suppressing the enemy's firing positions". However, the lie of the Armenian side was dispelled immediately after the village of Alkhanly was visited by 15 military attaches of 12 states, accompanied by representatives of foreign media. They were presented with evidence of the absence of firing points and units of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan in this area.
A couple of days before the incident in Alkhanli, the Commander of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces Movses Hakobyan admitted that in the last year there was not such a serious escalation on the frontline that could cause concern in Armenia. "The front line is calm enough. During the year, the enemy did not have the opportunity to implement any active action," said Hakobyan. Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani side published many serious facts of violation of the ceasefire and sabotage from the Armenian side. Armenian saboteur Zaven Karapetyan captured by Azerbaijani military at the end of June is another living evidence of Yerevan's interest in maintaining tension in the conflict zone.
Apparently, Baku did not leave the killers of the little girl without punishment, reminding Hakobyan about the capabilities of the Azerbaijani army. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said that Armenian military units were put on alert for the purpose of another sabotage. To prevent diversion of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, they inflicted exact fire strikes against the targets in the defense area of the battalion of the Armenian army. As a result, the significant force of the enemy was destroyed, as were several units of military equipment, and other military infrastructure facilities. The Defense Ministry also provided video footage of the attack on Armenian positions.
"The murder of small Zakhra and her grandmother has demonstrated to the whole world the ugly face of Armenian fascism. This crime did not remain unanswered. The Azerbaijani public is aware of this. Although Armenia always tries to hide its losses. However, it cannot hide all the losses. The Azerbaijani army inflicted devastating blows on the enemy," said Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at a government meeting held on July 12.
USA, France, Russia, Turkey, practically all the leading states of world politics, the UN, OSCE and other international organizations have condemned the murder of the two-year-old girl and her grandmother. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group made two statements. They openly regarded the event as "a provocative act that could frustrate the upcoming talks on a peaceful settlement of the conflict."
Almost in all statements, however, there was again a call for peace and the Geneva Conventions but not Armenia directly responsible for the aggression. It is precisely the pernicious practice of placing the aggressor and the injured party in one row hampering the resolution of the bleeding conflict. The fact of the occupation of 20% of the Azerbaijani territories by Armenia has been repeatedly recognized in the resolutions of the UN, PACE and other international organizations. These documents prescribe the unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories. It only remains to demand that Yerevan implements international decisions in the same way as it is done with regard to the Syrian and Ukrainian crises. Logically, the murderers of small Zakhra should be convicted and held accountable in the same way as was done with the perpetrators of the death of a Syrian refugee boy thrown ashore by waves. But as we see, this does not happen.
By the way, the incident in Alkhanly was provoked by Armenia on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, where the meeting of the U.S. and Russian presidents took place. But it seems Karabakh is not yet on the priority list of the powerful states. It seems that the decision of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is left to the discretion of three middle-ranking diplomats from Russia, the United States and France, who consider the round-talk discussions a serious achievement.
This is evidenced by the statement of the co-chairs following the talks between the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia Elmar Mammadyarov and Edward Nalbandian held on July 11 in Brussels. The only agreement, according to the statement, is that the foreign ministers will meet in September in New York on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly to prepare, together with the mediators, a meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia before the end of the year. Meanwhile, in the presence of a constructive attitude on the part of the Armenian side, it was long possible to start discussing the plan proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to withdraw Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. This, as the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov noted at the Brussels meeting, can contribute to reducing tension in the region.
That is, having on the table a specific plan from the mediators, the Armenian side is trying to divert attention to such derivatives as the mechanism for investigating the incidents. Whereas Azerbaijan and the entire international community, including the OSCE Minsk Group and even NATO, call for the immediate commencement of substantive negotiations. Armenia is doing its best to obstruct the progress of the peace process, provoking before the round of negotiations or after them incidents on the front lines, not even killing even the shelling of civilians and terror. "After provoking this provocation, they believed that Azerbaijan would refuse negotiations. We could refuse, if we did not give them a decent answer. We answered them, destroyed the invaders, punished them, and then took part in the negotiations," said President Aliyev.
President also recalled previous cases when Armenia provoked incidents and terrorist acts to disrupt the process of the conflict settlement. As for the prospects for the current round of discussions, the president mentioned that the resuming of negotiations was a positive phenomenon. In order to keep the enemy at the negotiating table, Azerbaijan has to increase its military potential and give adequate responses to provocations.
Apparently, neither the official Baku, nor the mediators and the expert community have any special illusions about the peaceful status quo in the near future. According to Russian political scientist Andrei Yepifantsev, there is not enough pressure of the co-chairing countries on Armenia to achieve this. "There is not enough political will not only from Armenia, but, first and foremost, among the countries that are on the first line of international politics, including the countries of the Minsk Group, and in particular its co-chairs," said Yepifantsev.
In this context, Moscow, as a moderator of the Karabakh negotiations, has great advantages over other co-chairs. In particular, it is known that before meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart in Brussels, Edward Nalbandian met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in Mauerbach.
"We discussed the problems of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement and stressed the need to implement the agreements reached during the summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg," said the Foreign Ministry of Armenia.
It is clear that by mentioning the Vienna and St. Petersburg agreements, Yerevan means only the creation of mechanisms for investigating incidents on the contact line and other derivatives of the negotiation process. At the same time, it is silent about the so-called "Lavrov plan". Lavrov himself, apparently, did not remind Nalbandian of his proposals, which envisage Armenia's de-occupation of the areas around Nagorno-Karabakh.
In exchange, the Russian Foreign Ministry demonstrated an incomprehensible position with regard to Azerbaijan. So, immediately the day after the death of Zahra and her grandmother, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement where Azerbaijan is requested to stop "outrageous discriminatory practices incompatible with friendly relations between the two states." Discrimination here means that since the beginning of this year Baku has refused entry to 25 Russian citizens with Armenian last names. The Russian Foreign Ministry found this measure a violation of human rights and the relevant Azerbaijani-Russian agreements. Moreover, a similar statement was made the next day, which caused bewilderment in Baku.
"A repeated statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry is incompliant with diplomatic ethics on the issue of checking Russian citizens of Armenian origin upon entry into Azerbaijan. This is surprising and incomprehensible. This statement does not correspond to the spirit of the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Russia," says the statement of the press service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.
Baku notes that for 25 years of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, this issue has never been on the agenda. "Therefore, it is difficult to explain the reason for such activity of the Russian side in this matter," emphasizes the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry also notes that earlier hundreds of citizens of Armenian origin from Russia and other countries have repeatedly visited the territory of Azerbaijan, having previously informed Baku.
"Having deep multicultural traditions Azerbaijan, in which representatives of various ethnic groups freely coexist, guided by the fundamentals of international and national legislation and the interests of their national security, independently decides whether or not foreign citizens should be allowed on its territory," the Foreign Ministry emphasizes.
The statement further indicates that Russia as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group is well aware of the continuing occupation of 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan by Azerbaijan and the presence of more than one million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the policy of ethnic cleansing conducted by the leadership of Yerevan.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry called the murder of a two-year-old girl and her grandmother as yet another evidence of terrorist-provocative policy pursued by Yerevan on the territory of Azerbaijan against the civilian population. "The interest in this issue (the procedures for the entry of Russian citizens of Armenian origin) by Russia at such a sensitive period raises many serious questions," says the statement.
"It is regrettable that the Russian side shows indifference to the fate of a Russian citizen of Azerbaijani origin Dilgam Askerov, taken hostage by the Armenian Armed Forces during his visit to the graves of his parents (in Nagorno-Karabakh)," said the Foreign Ministry.
Baku also voiced its expectations from Moscow, which is the mediator of the peace negotiation process. Azerbaijan expects the mediators to intensify their efforts on the speedy withdrawal of the Armenian military from the occupied territories. Only this can lead to peace and stability in Karabakh and benefit both the conflicting parties and all interested actors.