Azerbaijan has rejected Armenia’s claims that Baku made threats regarding the utilization of military power in relation to a vital land route leading to the Karabakh region.
“It is ridiculous that Armenia, which committed an act of aggression against Azerbaijan in violation of the UN Charter and the norms and principles of international law, and did not end the occupation (of Karabakh) despite 4 resolutions of the UN Security Council, is claiming that Azerbaijan is threatening with the use of force,” said a statement by the country’s Foreign Ministry.
The ministry was referring to an earlier statement by Yerevan, issued in the wake of a visit by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Lachin, an area that serves as Armenia’s sole link to Karabakh, which Baku liberated in a 2020 war that lasted 44 days.
“The statement of the Armenian side is a manifestation of not being able to digest the work done by Azerbaijan in a short timeframe, who carried out reconstruction works after liberating these territories from the occupation, and created all the conditions for the return of the population violently expelled from these territories,” added the Azerbaijani ministry.
It said Yerevan wanted to distract the international community’s attention in order to prevent the return of civilians to areas previously under nearly three decades of Armenian occupation, as well as to cover up actions such as the placing of landmines and booby traps in homes during the withdrawal of Armenia’s forces from Lachin.
Despite the ongoing talks on a peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan, tensions between the neighboring countries increased in recent months over the Lachin corridor.
Armenian statements amount to a “deliberate distortion” of Aliyev’s speech that stressed the need “to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty, the inadmissibility of interference in the internal affairs of Azerbaijan, and the resolute prevention of steps that serve to promote separatism in the region,” it underlined.
Azerbaijan intends to take “all necessary steps” towards the reintegration of local Armenian residents, said the statement, rejecting Yerevan’s “completely baseless” allegations that Baku intends to “ethnically cleanse” them from Lachin.
It also accused Armenia of hindering efforts to establish peace in the region and called on it to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan “not in words but in deeds as well,” rather than “delivering false and deceitful statements.”
Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages, and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes. The Russia-brokered peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.