President Aliyev comments on implementation of statement signed on 10 November
BAKU, Azerbaijan, Dec. 1
“I must say that the statement signed on 10 November is being implemented. I would like the Azerbaijani people to know – sometimes it is referred to as a statement signed on 9 November and sometimes as one dated 10 November. We signed this statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin via videoconference on 10 November Baku time. The time difference between us and Russia is one hour. Perhaps this discrepancy is related to this. So the statement signed on 10 November is being implemented. After the signing ceremony, I brought this statement as it is to the attention of the Azerbaijani people and showed again that all our work is transparent. I signed it in front of the people, signed it with great pride, as a winner. I brought the entire text of the statement to the attention of the Azerbaijani people. Today, when the conflict is over, I would like to comment on the implementation of this statement. The issues mentioned in the first paragraph have already been provided. A ceasefire has been in place since 10 November. There have been cases of violation of the ceasefire by Armenia. We provide an adequate response. There were no cases of ceasefire violation by the Azerbaijani side. In general, the ceasefire is being followed. The second paragraph states that the Aghdam district will be returned to the Republic of Azerbaijan on 20 November. This has been done. The third paragraph indicates that a peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation consisting of 1,960 military personnel armed with firearms, 90 armored vehicles, 380 vehicles, and special equipment will be deployed on the contact line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor. This has been done. The fourth paragraph states that the term of the statement is five years. If the parties do not raise any objection six months before the expiration of the term, the statement and this agreement will be extended. This is clear. In order to increase the effectiveness of control over compliance with the agreements reached by the parties to the conflict, a peacekeeping center is being established to exercise control over the ceasefire. When this statement was being signed, this paragraph was not elaborated in detail. However, when we were signing it, we agreed that it would be a Turkish-Russian center, and this has also already been resolved. Further, paragraph 6 indicates that the Republic of Armenia returns Kalbajar district to the Republic of Azerbaijan on 15 November and Lachin district before 1 December. As you know, the Russian side turned to us and asked for some time. The return of Kalbajar district to us was ensured not on 15, but on 25 November. This part of paragraph 6 has already been fulfilled. Lachin district has been returned to Azerbaijan. The 5 km-wide Lachin corridor will not affect the city of Shusha and will remain under the control of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. I have already commented on this point. The original version proposed 30 kilometers, then 10 kilometers, and it was supposed to remain under the control of the Armenian armed forces, not of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. We removed this from the statement. It was indicated that on the basis of the consent of the parties, a plan for the construction of a new route along the Lachin corridor would be determined in the next three years, providing for communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. Thus, in order to protect this route, the Russian peacekeeping contingent is to be relocated in the future. I would like to comment on this issue as well. What is indicated there? Everyone knows that the Lachin corridor passes through the city of Lachin. So Lachin will remain in the middle of this corridor. During my conversations with the President of Russia, I said that the city of Lachin should also be returned to us. Therefore, we propose to build a new corridor, to develop a route for a new corridor connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia, and build it. The deadline is also indicated here – within three years. But I believe we can do it sooner. After the parameters of the new corridor have been determined, the city of Lachin will also be returned to us. This issue deserves special attention because if I had not included it in the statement, the Lachin corridor would always have covered the city of Lachin,” President Ilham Aliyev said.
“The seventh paragraph states that internally displaced persons and refugees will return to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent districts under the control of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. This is also an important matter. The citizens of Azerbaijan must return to all places in Nagorno-Karabakh where they used to live. This issue will be monitored by the UN. It will take time, of course. This will be decided during regular contacts,” the head of state said.
“The eighth paragraph states that there is an exchange of prisoners of war, hostages, and other detainees, as well as bodies. This process is already going on – both the exchange of bodies and prisoners and hostages,” the Azerbaijani president said.
“The ninth paragraph states that all economic and transport links are being restored in the region. In order to organize the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles, and goods in both directions, the Republic of Armenia guarantees the security of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Control over transport communications is carried out by the Border Service of the Federal Security Service of Russia and, by agreement of the parties, the construction of new transport communications linking the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be ensured. This ninth paragraph was included in the statement precisely as a result of my persistence. Because when the peace plan was discussed for many years, the situation was not as clear and specific. In other words, the plan was that all communications would be opened, but there was no talk of a corridor that would link the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the rest of Azerbaijan. It was believed that this general expression covers this as well, but here it explicitly states that a corridor is being created between the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and the main part of Azerbaijan, and the security of this corridor will be provided not by Armenia, but by the Border Service of the Federal Security Service of Russia. So this corridor will be absolutely safe. At the same time, the second issue is the construction, by agreement of the parties, of new transport communications connecting the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan. For a complete and future-oriented solution of this issue, an additional paragraph was included. So what does this mean? It means that there should be two corridors. If necessary, there should be two corridors. This is our historic achievement. We are taking Nakhchivan out of the encirclement and, at the same time, opening a new transport artery. I can say that all countries will only benefit from this. Azerbaijan is establishing a connection with its integral part, Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan connects with Turkey. Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Iran. Armenia, if it wants, may also join this corridor. Thus, a new five-sided cooperation platform can be created in the region. I have already brought this idea to the attention of the presidents of Russia and Turkey. Both Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin reacted positively to this. Here is our proposal. We want long-term peace to be established in the region. To achieve this, cooperation needs to develop alongside security measures. We are ready to cooperate. Among the issues mentioned in the ninth paragraph, the priority for us is the issue of connecting Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and, at the same time, creating a new transport corridor between Azerbaijan and Turkey. As you know, we put the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway into operation several years ago. This is a railway link between Turkey and Azerbaijan. If this project is also implemented – and I am sure it will be – it will be a new link, and each of the five countries can benefit from it. What could be better than this project for regional security and cooperation? Nothing! Who is the initiator of this? We are! Who included this item here? I did! Today, on 1 December, we are already seeing some progress of this work. I can say that the “Azerbaijan Railways” Closed Joint Stock Company has already been instructed to analyze the Horadiz-Zangilan railway, which the hated enemy has destroyed, and make preliminary calculations. At the same time, issues related to the restoration of railways were also discussed during a recent visit of the delegation of the Russian Federation to Azerbaijan. Armenian railways are owned by the Russian railways – by 100 percent. Therefore, we are discussing this issue not with Armenia, but with Russia. In general, what is there in Armenia that would belong to it? Armenia is not a subject of international relations, but an object of them. Why? Because of the occupation. It has wasted a historic opportunity, failed to become an independent country, and missed out on economic opportunities because of the occupation. What has it accomplished? Nothing! We have taken all the necessary measures so far. Transport, energy, economic cooperation – we have completed all projects. At the end of December, the Southern Gas Corridor will be fully commissioned. Its last part, TAP, is being commissioned now. Where are you, Armenia? You are on the sidelines! This energy corridor bypasses Armenia. Who did this? We did! I remember the time when we were defining the route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline. I was working for the State Oil Company at the time. Tremendous pressure was being exerted on us – in fact, from Western countries. Why does it bypass Armenia? It should not pass through Georgia but through Armenia. Leading Western countries were putting forward conditions to us at the time. We were very dependent on foreign loans back then. I remember that as a result of a campaign carried out by the Armenian propaganda, the Armenian lobby, and pro-Armenian foreign circles, the World Bank postponed the provision of a loan that was supposed to be given to us within a year – under various pretexts, allegedly on grounds of environmental standards being violated. However, it was absurd,” the head of state said.