By Vafa Ismayilova
Baku through its practical steps has shown that it remains committed to obligations specified in the Karabakh peace deal (trilateral statement) signed by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders in November 2020.
Among these steps is the recent release of Lebanese Armenian Maralle Najarian who had entered Azerbaijan's territory illegally during the war and had committed other acts in violation of Azerbaijani legislation.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva said on March 11 that the release of Najarian was a result of humanism demonstrated by Azerbaijan.
Previously, Azerbaijan released dozens of Armenia POWs under paragraph 8 of the trilateral statement of November 10.
The all-for-all prisoner exchange between Azerbaijan and Armenia started on December 14 with the facilitation of Russian peacekeepers deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh in line with the peace deal.
Fourteen Azerbaijani and 44 Armenian POWs were returned on the first day of the prisoner exchange.
Earlier the ministry said that Azerbaijan returned to Armenia 71 Armenian citizens, including 43 military and 28 civilians taken prisoner during the war.
However, Azerbaijan has refused to return 62 Armenian saboteurs who were sent to the conflict zone after the conclusion of the November peace deal.
The Foreign Ministry has said that the 62 men are members of a sabotage-terrorist group, sent by Armenia to the territory of Azerbaijan after the signing of the trilateral statement and “in no case can be considered prisoners of war.”
“As a result of terrorist acts committed by the detained group, four Azerbaijani servicemen became martyrs and one civilian was seriously injured. Currently, this issue is being investigated,” Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva stated.
She noted that the issue has been repeatedly commented on at the highest level.
Abdullayeva added that Azerbaijan, adhering to the terms of the statement, created the necessary conditions for the search and collection of the bodies of Armenian servicemen on liberated territories of Azerbaijan, as well as, together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Russian peacekeepers, provides assistance to Armenian.
“Inflating the topic of exchange of prisoners of war amid all these facts, at the same time, the absence of international discussions on Armenia's refusal to provide a map of mined territories in violation of the norms of international humanitarian law indicates the existence of double standards. Since the end of hostilities to this day in the liberated territories, 18 people - 12 civilians and 6 servicemen - were blown up on mines. Moreover, 62 servicemen and 9 civilians received bodily injuries of varying severity,” the spokesperson said.
She added that the abovementioned facts clearly show that Azerbaijan, unlike Armenia, which, avoiding fulfilling its obligations in all possible ways, is committed to the obligations arising from the November 10 statement and is interested in ensuring peace in the region.
Commenting on the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s statement about the dispatch of personnel of the Armenian armed forces for military service to Azerbaijani territories, Abdullayeva questioned any steps taken by Armenia to prevent such violations.
“I would like to note that the deployment of Armenian servicemen in any form in the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan without their consent is an open violation of the norms and principles of international law, territorial integrity and inviolability of international borders, as well as the provisions of other international documents, of which Armenia itself is a supporter. Azerbaijan will not allow such illegal actions in its sovereign territories, and all necessary measures will be taken to prevent them,” she added.
International media outlets operating in Armenia, including independent media, earlier reported that after the signing of a joint statement between Azerbaijan and Armenia on November 10, which provides for the cessation of all hostilities, the personnel of the Armenian armed forces are involved in military activities in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan by deception or coercion, which caused protests both among the military and their families.
Armenia’s destabilizing attempts
On February 22, 2021, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, sent appeals with the attachment of relevant evidence to the UN, OSCE, NATO and Council of Europe secretaries, including the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, OSCE Chairman-in-Office, UN High Commissioner on human rights with a call to take measures within their competence regarding Armenia's failure to fulfill its obligations in accordance with international law and the tripartite statement, as well as to stop the deployment of its armed forces by Armenia on the territory of Azerbaijan and any actions and statements that impede the implementation of the tripartite statement.
On March 4, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said in his letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Armenia resorted to “destabilizing actions and statements aimed at undermining the emerging perspectives of regional peace and security, such as the deployment of a sabotage group into the territories of Azerbaijan to commit terror acts against Azerbaijan almost two weeks after the signing of the trilateral statement, and whom it cynically requests to release".
In late February, President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan acts in accordance with the norms of morality and universal human behaviour.
Speaking about Armenians detained on liberated territories after the signing of the Karabakh peace deal, he described them as terrorists and saboteurs.
“There cannot be a prisoner of war 20 days after the war. We returned them all the prisoners of war we had. In fact, we returned them earlier than they returned ours. These people do not fall into this category. These are terrorists and saboteurs.” Aliyev said.
The president reminded that after the hostilities ended, a detachment of more than 60 people was dispatched from Armenia’s Shirak region, from the city of Gyumri and surrounding regions in the last 10 days of November.
He pointed out that Azerbaijan returned to Armenia all POWs and any speculation by Armenia on this subject is inappropriate.
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