By Vafa Ismayilova
French lawyer Eliza Arfi has said the world community must know about Armenian-committed atrocities in Azerbaijan, local news sources have reported.
She made the remarks on April 22 during her visit to the liberated Aghdam region and Ganja city, where civilians and non-military facilities came under the Armenian missile attacks during the 44-day war in autumn 2020 despite being far from the conflict zone.
French lawyers visited Aghdam and Ganja at the invitation of the Azerbaijani embassy in France.
“French lawyers arrived in Ganja to review the consequences of the atrocities committed by the Armenians. Of course, we came here to assess this. After reviewing the consequences of the events that took place here, we intend to bring the issue to the international level. Our goal is to initiate legal processes,” Arfi said.
The lawyer also commented on the Armenian destructions and vandalism in Aghdam.
"What we see in Aghdam is heartbreaking. Looking at this, it is very difficult to imagine what the people who lived in this city experienced, what this war cost them," she added.
She stressed that Agdam is completely destroyed and practically razed to the ground.
"The main purpose of our visit here is to see everything with our own eyes, in addition to the information in the European press. It is hard to see what happened here. That is why it is very important for us to come here, get acquainted with the situation, see with our own eyes the scale, consequences of the war, and violations. As you can see, the city, one might say, is completely destroyed and practically wiped off the earth," Arfi said.
French criminal justice attorney Yassine Yakouti also shared his impressions about Aghdam.
“We’ve seen traces of destruction on Azerbaijani lands, vandalism of the historical monuments, mosques in Aghdam. Azerbaijan returned its lands on the basis of international law and the main point for us, attorneys, is the law’s triumph,” he said.
He noted that “it’s terrible to see Aghdam in ruins”.
"This city has never been the part of the administrative territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), but was captured by the Armenian armed forces nonetheless. It’s necessary to respect the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan," added the lawyer.
He described as a war crime the scene he witnessed in Ganja.
“I can say with confidence that what we saw in Ganja is a war crime. The main purpose of the visit to Ganja is to fully investigate and examine the real situation,” Yakouti said.
He stressed that the lawyers will fully assess these events.
“It is astonishing that Ganja is really located far from the combat zone, but for some reason, the civilian population and facilities here were targeted. I can say with confidence that what we saw is a war crime. As lawyers, we will make every effort to assist the population of Ganja in this issue,” he added.
On April 20, President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan had launched legal procedures to take Armenia to international courts for damages inflicted on its formerly-occupied territories.
Speaking about the role of France in establishing peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, lawyer Eliza Arfi noted that France should be neutral and clearly see the position of each side, and avoid pleasing only one side.
“This is a rather delicate question, because, as known, there are many ethnic Armenians living in France. When we come here, our main goal is to create a balance of views and opinions,” added Arfi.
It should be noted that during the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan that continued between September 27 and November 10, French President Emmanuel Macron and some French circles failed to demonstrate a neutral position, despite the fact that France is a co-chair in the OSCE Minsk Group mediating peace talks between Baku and Yerevan.
In contradiction to the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, only the interests of Armenia were protected and an inadequate position, which did not meet the requirements of a balanced and fair co-chairmanship, was displayed. This stance was several times criticized by Azerbaijan's official circles.
Visit by Israeli journalists
On April 19-20, Israeli journalists visited Aghdam, Fuzuli, Zangilan and Gubadli regions liberated from Armenia's occupation in a 44-day war with Armenia in autumn 2020.
As part of the trip to Aghdam on April 19, Israel Hayom correspondent Dean Shmuel and political analyst for The Jerusalem Post and The Jewish Press Arye Gut visited the Juma Mosque, the ruins of the Drama Theater and witnessed the consequences of Armenian vandalism in the Museum of Bread and on the territory called "Imaret".
Israel Hayom correspondent Dean Shmuel said it is very sad to see that the mosque in Aghdam had been damaged and destroyed during the Armenian occupation.
Shmuel described the destruction of Aghdam's mosque as a sad fact "regardless of whether you are a Jewish, a Christian or a Muslim".
He added that the main challenge for Azerbaijan now is the restoration of the liberated lands.
On April 20, the Israeli delegation visited the Gargabazar caravansarai (roadside inn) in liberated Fuzuli region, which was used by the Armenians as a barn during the occupation. The Israeli journalists witnessed the consequences of the Armenian vandalism, including destructions in the region. Moreover, Israeli journalists monitored the progress of construction and restoration work carried out on the liberated territories.
The clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan resumed after Armenia launched large-scale attacks on Azerbaijani forces and civilians on September 27.
The trilateral peace deal signed by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders on November 10, 2020, ended the 30-year-old conflict between Baku and Yerevan over Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region that along with the seven adjacent regions came under the occupation of Armenian armed forces in the war in the 1990s.
On January 11, 2021, the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders signed the second statement since the end of the 44-day war. The newly-signed statement is set to implement clause 9 of the November 2020 statement related to the unblocking of all economic and transport communications in the region.
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