Armenia's attempts to artificially maintain status quo create serious complications, Baku says (UPDATE)

Details added (first version posted on 11:25)

Baku, Azerbaijan, July 6


Attempts by Armenia to artificially maintain the status quo, which is based on the continuation of the occupation of Azerbaijan’s lands, are fraught with serious complications, the entire responsibility for which is on the Republic of Armenia, spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Hikmat Hajiyev said.

Hajiyev made the remarks in Baku July 6 in connection with the 25th anniversary of the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Agdere town and surrounding villages.

“The 25th anniversary of the occupation of Agdere town in Tartar district of Azerbaijan and surrounding villages by the armed forces of Armenia will be marked on July 7,” he said.

“Prior to the armed aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan, Agdere was the administrative center of one of the five districts of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan SSR,” Hajiyev said. “According to the latest Soviet population census of 1989, there were more than 14,000 Azerbaijanis living in 14 villages of the district, which made it the second most populous of the five administrative districts of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, after Shusha district.”

“The area is rich with the deposits of coal, limestone, gold and copper, lead, zinc,” he said. "Moreover, 75.059 hectares (44 percent of the area) were covered with forests, including rare and valuable species. Sarsang reservoir and the hydroelectric power plant on the river of Tartar are also in the territory of this region.”

“However, the occupation of Agdere, accompanied by ethnic cleansing, led to the expulsion of the entire Azerbaijani population, the destruction and falsification of cultural heritage and the destruction of its infrastructure,” Hajiyev said.

“These illegal actions became a continuation of the policy of falsification of historical realities and changes in the ethnic composition of the Karabakh region,” he said. “One of the most striking examples of this process is the fact that in 1978 in the village of Shikharkh a monument "Maraga-150" was erected to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the resettlement of 200 Armenian families from city of Maraga in Iran to Karabakh. However, after the beginning of Armenia’s aggression, this monument was destroyed.”

“The Republic of Armenia and the illegal regime established in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan have been carrying out illegal activities for twenty-five years to plunder the resources of Agdere,” Hajiyev said. “Natural mineral resources of Agdere are exploited unlawfully by use of barbaric methods.”

“At the same time Armenia does not pay attention to maintaining the safety of the Sarsang hydroelectric plant, which poses serious danger to a number of Azerbaijani settlements along the Tartar river,” he said. “The serious concern about the situation of Sarsang reservoir was unequivocally expressed in PACE resolution No. 2085 (2016).”

“The Sarsang reservoir was built in 1976 to provide residents of the surrounding areas with irrigation water,” Hajiyev said. “After the occupation of these lands, Armenia turned it into a tool of humanitarian and ecological terror. Thus, the Armenian side, deliberately opening the gutters in the winter months, creates conditions for flooding the territories inhabited by Azerbaijanis in the lower reaches of the Tartar, and in the hot summer months when there is a need for water, it does not allow using it.”

“The international community condemns the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan and calls for the immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from all seized lands, as enshrined in the UN Security Council resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993), 884 (1993),” he said. “Only these immediate steps in this direction can provide basis for the beginning of a political settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and conditions for the return of Azerbaijani IDPs to their houses, including in Agdere and surrounding villages.”

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.

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