By Vafa Ismayilova
Amenia's refusal to provide maps of mines placed in Azerbaijan’s formerly occupied territories, demonstrates Yerevan’s unconstructive approach, Russian military expert Igor Korotchenko has said.
Korotchenko said that there are hundreds of square kilometres of mined areas on Azerbaijan’s liberated territories.
"Without a map, it’s difficult to ensure the safe return of peaceful Azerbaijanis who became internally-displaced persons 30 years ago. Unfortunately, we do not see the goodwill of Armenia in this matter. Armenia does not want to provide a map of mined territories as always,” Korotcheko said.
Sixteen Azerbaijanis – including 11 civilians – were killed in mine explosions in the newly-liberated territories since the end of the war on November 10.
Military expert Shair Ramaldanov has described as a lie the Armenian authorities’ allegations that maps of minefields for Azerbaijan’s formerly occupied territories do not exist.
“Of course, this is another lie of Armenia. The goal is clear - to achieve the death of as many people as possible and to delay as much as possible the process of return of Azerbaijanis to the liberated territories,” he noted.
The expert also pointed out that the mined area is rather large.
"The Azerbaijani government uses all available opportunities, taking necessary security measures and appealing to international organizations for demining the territories. Turkish specialists have also joined the demining process,” Ramaldanov said.
The Azerbaijan Mine Action Agency earlier said that citizens are not allowed to visit them without special permission.
On February 3, Aliyev announced that mine clearance in the liberated lands would be the first step in the process to return IDPs to their homes. The president said that mine clearance was a big process as Armenians refuse to give Azerbaijan maps of minefields. “That is why explosions are frequent now. We are now reshaping the Mine Action Agency, and it will be more efficient now. But it will take some time. Of course, mine clearance work must be completed."
The president also urged Azerbaijanis not to visit the newly-liberated areas until they have been demined.
Aliyev signed a decree on February 2 on ensuring the activity of the Mine Clearance Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan liberated around 300 villages, city centres, settlements and historic Shusha city in the war that lasted from September 27 and November 10. Other Armenian-occupied districts - Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin - returned to Azerbaijan's control after the singing of the Russian-brokered Karabakh peace deal on November 10.
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