Author: Namig MAYILOV
Azerbaijani troops entered Lachin. It was the last of the three occupied regions that Armenia had to return by December 1 in accordance with a trilateral statement by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. Earlier, the Armenian armed forces left Aghdam and Kalbajar.
The liberation of each of these regions is extremely important for the final establishment of peace in the region. With the de-occupation of Lachin, Azerbaijan restored full control over the entire perimeter of its state border with Armenia. Only 5 km of the border line will temporarily remain under the control of the Russian peacekeeping forces as a corridor for transport communication between the Armenian population of Garabagh and Armenia.
It is the potential of the state of Azerbaijan, the courage and heroism of the Azerbaijani army, and the long-term purposeful policy that made it possible to finally end the problem of the occupation of Azerbaijani territories. Certainly, it would be much better if it happened peacefully. Unfortunately, all diplomatic and international mediation efforts to pacify the aggressor have been in vain for almost 30 years. As a result, Baku was forced to use its sovereign right to implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council and liberate the lands using force. In just 44 days, Azerbaijan was able to return the cities of Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Gubadli, Shusha, four settlements and more than 300 occupied villages. It was this triumphant march of the Azerbaijani army that caused Armenia declare capitulation with the subsequent return of Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin to Azerbaijan, as well as the opening of the road to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan.
“During the war, we liberated almost 5,000 sq. kilometres by military means. We returned almost an equally sized territory peacefully. Of course, this cannot be called a peaceful return. We forced the enemy, who was already on the brink of a precipice, to withdraw. But we could completely them. Armenia had no other way. Otherwise, it either would have been completely destroyed, or had to sign an act of capitulation,” President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said in his public address on the occasion of the liberation of Lachin.
In other words, Lachin was that exclamation mark that President Aliyev put after his famous reply to the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: "Garabagh is Azerbaijan! Exclamation mark."
“Everyone knows well that the former Daghlig Garabagh Autonomous Region had no border with the Republic of Armenia. The district of Lachin separated Armenia from Daghlig Garabagh, the so called Lachin corridor. The occupation of Lachin, Shusha and Kalbajar created a geographical connection between Armenia and Daghlig Garabagh over a vast territory, and this was the enemy's goal. After the occupation of Kalbajar, Armenia established a communication line with Daghlig Garabagh using many roads primarily to supply weapons, equipment, and manpower to Garabagh. At the same time, it provided great advantages in the subsequent aggressive policy of Armenia,” President Aliyev said on the day of the liberation of Kalbajar.
The whole world is witnessing the flagrant facts of violation of international conventions in all territories that were under the Armenian occupation. It is clearly seen from photo and video footage that the Armenian forces used the scorched soild tactic in Garabagh, which is prohibited by Article 54 of Protocol No. 1 of the 1977 Geneva Convention. If Aghdam, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli were turned into ruins after the First Garabagh war, then Shusha, Kalbajar and Lachin, where the Armenians illegally settled after the occupation, were subject to destruction and acts of vandalism during the surrender of territories to Azerbaijan. They set forests to fires, destroyed the monuments and existing infrastructure, looted the artefacts, burned the houses, killed pets.
From a sore head to a healthy one
It is remarkable how cynically Armenians try to present themselves as a victim of the war. This hysteria is willingly supported not only by foreign media but also by some states. The compassion and alleged concern that politicians and leaders of some countries show about the future of the monuments of Christian culture in the lands de-occupied by Azerbaijan are also remarkable.
France is particularly active in this matter. In fact, the French Senate has recently passed a resolution recommending the authorities to recognise the independence of the Armenian separatists of Garabagh. Also, the French National Assembly has scheduled for December 3 the discussion of the draft resolution on the protection of Armenian people and Christian communities of Europe and the Middle East.
Interestingly, some senators probably cannot even show Garabagh on the map. But they think they still need to please the half-million Armenian diaspora in France. Many of them do not even think, or do not want to think about how these monuments of Christianity have survived in Azerbaijan should there were a threat from the Azerbaijanis. Why should Azerbaijan harm its own historical and cultural heritage, the Albanian temples, for example?
“Both mosques and churches are our historical heritage. The people of Azerbaijan are well aware of this. And the whole world should know that the churches located in Kalbajar belong to the ancient state of Caucasian Albania. There are many historical documents that support my statement. This is no secret to anyone. It's just that Armenian "historians" and falsifiers have Armenianized the Albanian churches, added their lies and appropriated them. It is enough to look at history to see that in the 1830s the Russian Empire abolished the Albanian Church, transferred all its property to the Armenian Gregorian Church, and Armenian priests, their patrons began to appropriate these churches. Their primary task was to erase the history of Caucasian Albania. But we did not allow it to happen. Azerbaijan has a fairly large scientific base, including the works on this particular issue,” President Aliyev said.
Mr. Aliyev added that during the Second Garabagh War, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation opened an ancient Udi church of Caucasian Albania in the village of Nij. “We protect these churches as our cultural heritage. So, do not worry. These churches will continue to be protected by our state. The entire world community and world leaders welcome the policy pursued by Azerbaijan on multiculturalism and interreligious relations. I ask the concerned Western circles look at our destroyed mosques, at the mosques in Aghdam, Shusha, Zangilan, Jabrayil, Fuzuli and so on. These mosques were either destroyed or desecrated. They kept pigs in them. Why do not they express concern about these mosques? Why has no one but us raised this issue for 30 years? I have repeatedly raised this issue from international tribunes, during my contacts with foreign colleagues. Why did not they send an international delegation to make researches on this issue? The people of Azerbaijan want to get answers to these questions. Yet we know the answer. Again, let those who want to interfere in our affairs, or accuse us of something, first look in the mirror,” Ilham Aliyev said.
While Azerbaijan is building new and restoring old Orthodox churches in the country, safeguarding the Armenian church in Baku, investing in the restoration of catacombs in Rome, world powers do not notice not only the humiliating attitude of Armenia towards mosques but even the acts of vandalism towards Orthodox shrines in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.
Hardly anyone who accuses Azerbaijan can name at least one fact of restoration of a certain shrine anywhere in the world by Armenia. Even the Christian ones. But the Armenian clergy does not even hide their claims to more than 400 churches in Georgia.
Azerbaijan is not afraid of its past, unlike Armenia, which destroyed the Iravan fortress only because its architecture, domes and minarets of mosques painfully remind of the Azerbaijani-Muslim past of the capital of modern Armenia.
Armenia on the brink of abyss
Meanwhile, the state of Armenia is facing a threat of extinction. Due to military, political and socio-economic damage after the defeat in the Second Garabagh War, Armenia will need many years and billions of foreign aid to recover from it. According to some estimates, only the cost of equipment destroyed in the war exceeds $4 billion. The external public debt of Armenia is $8 billion, with foreign exchange reserves slightly more than $1 billion, if they have not already spent part of this money during pandemics and the war.
At the meeting with the representatives of the Armenian community of Russia, the President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian admitted that in fact Armenia had lost several wars, including the demographic and information ones. “We are attacking each other instead of uniting,” Sarkissian said, urging the government to resign.
The defeat in the war and the deepening crisis increased the already great antagonism between the citizens of Armenia and the representatives of the Garabagh Armenians. The Ombudsman of Armenia Arman Tatoyan said that offensive statements against the Garabagh Armenians in social networks are unacceptable. According to him, sometimes the statements are aimed at sowing internal ethnic discord, and inciting hatred.
During one of the rallies, a verbal altercation transpired between the Yerevan and Garabagh Armenians. “Our children should not have fought in Garabagh. The people of Garabagh are chilling out here in Yerevan. Did you see how they brought a cake to Russian soldiers?" the parents of the Armenian soldiers express their resentment.
The relatives of the conscripts remaining in the Armenian-populated areas of Garabagh demand that Pashinyan announce specific dates for their return to Armenia. Otherwise, they threaten to take radical steps.
President of NGO Shirak Center Vahan Tumasyan predicts the collapse of Armenia should the authorities fail to take prompt and radical political steps. “Regions and cities of the country are on the bring of a protracted crisis with severe social consequences. It's like a swamp. It is winter now. The increasing poverty rate will demoralise the society leading to grave consequences, including thefts and robberies,” Panorama.am quotes Tumasyan.
The former Minister of Agriculture of Armenia Artur Khachatryan admitted that the territorial losses of Armenia in Garabagh can lead to serious problems with food supply in the country. “The first threat is a possible shortage of grain. Armenia annually produces about 200,000 tons of grain, including 150,000 tons produced on the lost territories. “We have lost 75% of our grain produce. Armenia annually imports about 250,000 tons of grain. We will have to close the gap with external purchases. Given the growing exchange rate of the US dollar in the country, we will have a deficit of bread,” Khachatryan said.
By the way, the indicators declared by Armenia exceed the calculations of Azerbaijan. “As I was told, Armenia collected 90,000 tons of wheat annually on the occupied lands. The total volume of wheat production by Armenia, including the volumes from the occupied lands, reached 190,000 tons. They harvested half of this crop on our lands,” President Ilham Aliyev said.
He recalled that Armenia, due to its aggressive policy towards Azerbaijan, remained apart from all regional energy and transport projects. "The train left. But it is still not too late. You can still catch the train with our permission, should you agree to our conditions. That’s how it will be from now on!" Aliyev said.
By the way, the new Minister of Economy of Armenia Vahan Kerobyan has already hinted at the desire to use the ports of Turkey and possibly the Azerbaijani market in the long term. Until that happens, Pashinyan and his team have to feed the Armenian people with false promises, bringing the country closer to a civil war.
The Patriotic War of Azerbaijan is over. As also mentioned by President Aliyev, a new era begins in the history of the country. “We have won the victory on the battlefield, in the political arena. Our victory opens a new era for our country – an era of development, security and progress,” Aliyev said in his last public address.