President Ilham Aliyev receives EU Special Representative (PHOTO)

President Ilham Aliyev receives EU Special Representative (PHOTO)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Sept. 25

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President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar.

Welcoming the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar, President Ilham Aliyev said:

- Welcome, I am very glad to see you! You are back after a few months, which, of course, was due to the pandemic. However, I am glad that you are visiting us after the softening of the quarantine regime.

A lot has changed in our region since our last meeting. It is a pity that the region has not become a safer place. Unfortunately, the situation is deteriorating. This is mainly due to Armenia's ongoing military provocations against Azerbaijan. The most aggressive step was taken by Armenia on 12 July. They used artillery to fire on our military positions and villages. As a result, there were casualties among servicemen and a civilian was killed. Many houses were destroyed in the villages near the state border with Armenia. Prior to that, Armenia's military provocations on the state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan were regular in nature. However, it was not as aggressive as this time.

As you know, some time ago, our army was withdrawn from the border and now a large section of the state border with Armenia is guarded by the border service. This shows that we have no military intentions on the state border with Armenia. This may have sent them a wrong message. They thought they could attack us, cross the state border and occupy new territories. This is in line with the statement of the Armenian defense minister. He made this statement while in the United States, saying that Armenia would start a new war for new territories. This clearly demonstrates the continuation of Armenia's aggressive behavior. The purpose of the attacks in July was mainly to occupy new territories of Azerbaijan and then gain a stronger position at the negotiating table. The second reason was to divert the attention of the Armenian population from internal problems and difficulties. Another reason, I think, was that they wanted to involve third parties in the conflict. Immediately after the defeat, they turned to the Collective Security Treaty Organization for help.

Another reason was to disrupt the negotiations. There may have been other reasons, but I think these were the main ones. They failed to achieve their goals. They have achieved only one goal, and that is to stop the talks. All the responsibility rests squarely on Armenia. They showed that they did not want to negotiate. The statement the Armenian prime minister made in the occupied territories, in Khankandi, that “Karabakh is Armenia” actually demonstrated Armenia's withdrawal from the talks. Otherwise, he would have refrained from making such an unacceptable and wrong statement.

Further evidence of their deliberate disruption of the negotiating process was their consistent efforts to involve separatists from Nagorno-Karabakh in the talks. This was immediately rejected by us and not supported by the Minsk Group co-chairs. In other words, they have wanted to change the existing format of negotiations for many years. As you know, after the July provocations, in August they sent a sabotage group to the contact line, the leader of which was detained by our servicemen. He confessed and testified that he and his sabotage group were sent to attack the civilian population, commit terrorist acts and attack our military personnel. This suggests that the aggressive policy of Armenia against Azerbaijan continues. This also indicates that Armenia is preparing for war. Another indicator of this is that they have announced the establishment of an army of volunteers and, according to their own statements, these groups will consist of tens of thousands of people. If Armenia wants peace, as it sometimes claims, if they want negotiations, then what is this for? Why are these false and ridiculous statements and specific steps? The volunteer army consisting of tens of thousands of people pursues one goal – to attack Azerbaijan. They include old men and even women in this volunteer army. They are conducting so-called military exercises in the occupied territories, which is another provocation against us.

It is beyond doubt that the decision to hold the swearing-in ceremony for the so-called leader of the criminal junta in Shusha, an ancient historical city of Azerbaijan, was another deliberate act of provocation. You are also aware that Azerbaijan has already raised the issue of illegal settlement of Armenians in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan with many international organizations. This is a flagrant violation of international law. This is a violation of the Geneva Convention and it is a crime. They are moving Armenians from Lebanon to Shusha and other occupied territories. They demonstrate it, they show it on TV and on the Internet. As a matter of fact, they completely ignore the norms of international law and commit crimes. The reason they are able to do this is that there is no-one to stop them. The Minsk Group co-chairs do not stop them. The statements by the Minsk Group are not directly aimed at anyone. Because Azerbaijan has not taken any provocative steps. We did not attack them at the state border, we did not send a sabotage group, we did not announce the creation of a volunteer army, we did not commit any other provocations. All provocations are committed by Armenia, and they are doing it deliberately, they are demonstrating it. The lack of international pressure on them – which I have repeatedly raised in meetings with the Minsk Group co-chairs – leads to very dangerous steps and may have unpredictable consequences.

We have other information. According to our intelligence, very serious military training is under way, their armed forces are being concentrated on the line of contact, on the state border. We are monitoring the situation and will defend ourselves, as we have already done in Tovuz and in many other cases. If they attack us, they will regret it. I just want you to know about this and convey this message to the European Commission. I want to see what the European Commission will do to contain the new provocations of the aggressor.

The EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Toivo Klaar said:

- Thank you, Mr. President! I am very glad to be in Baku again after a few months. As you said, the situation has changed. Many events of concern have occurred in recent months. This is a special reason why I am here today. As you know, the High Representative has been in contact with your Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia. The European Union is very interested in security, stability and peace in the South Caucasus. For my part, I am here to study the situation.

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