By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijan's permanent representative to the UN, Yashar Aliyev, has briefed UN Security Council debates about aggressive acts that Armenians committed against the country over the 30-year occupation and while retreating from the territories liberated in a 44-day war in 2020.
Aliyev made the remarks at the virtual open debates "Protection of facilities necessary for the survival of civilians" of the agenda "Protection of civilians in armed conflict" held at the UN Security Council.
The permanent representative said that the Armenian armed forces and Armenian illegal settlers, leaving Azerbaijani territories, destroyed and burned houses, schools, and other civilian infrastructure, cut electrical cables, broke power line poles, cut down trees, and set fire to forests, trying to destroy everything on those lands.
“Protecting civilians from direct attacks and attacks without targeting is one of the main tasks of the international humanitarian legal regime. Azerbaijan is among those countries that have greatly suffered from the devastating consequences of the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict,” Aliyev said.
He reminded that Armenia unleashed a full-scale war against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s and consequently, a major part of Azerbaijani territories had been occupied for almost 30 years.
“During the conflict, Armenia has repeatedly violated the bans on attacks on civilians. The war claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and ethnic cleansing of more than 700,000 Azerbaijanis were carried out on all the occupied territories,” he said.
Aliyev stressed that most of the occupied cities, settlements, and villages were razed to the ground.
“Moreover, the large-scale destruction and irreversible damage to the environment by Armenia have been characterized by the international community as a form of environmental aggression,” he added.
The permanent representative stressed that there has been a repeated escalation in and around Azerbaijan's occupied territories since 2015.
“Armenia provoked the large-scale hostilities on the line of contact and on the border with Azerbaijan in April 2016 and July 2020. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees informed about the damage to the civilian property as a result of shelling and unexploded ordnance in Azerbaijani villages near the conflict zone in May 2016,” Aliyev said.
He noted that the cross-border attacks by the Armenian armed forces threatened strategic international oil and gas pipelines and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway in Azerbaijan in July 2020.
“Another act of aggression by Armenia in late September 2020 and the subsequent hostilities led to numerous casualties among the Azerbaijani civilian population. Big damage was caused to the civilian infrastructure in several big cities of Azerbaijan outside the conflict zone,” Aliyev said.
He underlined that the Armenian armed forces also aimed to destroy Azerbaijan's energy infrastructure.
“A ballistic missile fired at Azerbaijan’s Mingachevir city fell in close proximity to the Azerbaijan Thermal Power Plant, which is located near the biggest reservoir in the South Caucasus. As a result of the counter-offensive undertaken and successfully carried out by the Azerbaijani armed forces, about 10,000 square meters of Azerbaijani territory with more than 300 cities, settlements, and villages were liberated from the occupation,” the permanent representative said.
He described the scale of destruction, vandalism, looting on liberated territories is "shocking and unprecedented.”
“The entire civilian infrastructure in most of these territories was looted and destroyed. Moreover, retreating Armenian armed forces and Armenian illegal settlers fleeing these territories dismantled and then burned houses, schools, and other civilian infrastructure, cut electrical cables and broke power line poles, chopped down trees, and set forests on fire in an attempt to destroy everything on these lands,” Aliyev said.
“The destruction of civilian infrastructure and the presence of minefields on the territories liberated from the occupation is a big problem for the safe return of internally displaced people to their houses. The Azerbaijani government gives priority attention to the revival and reconstruction of these territories to ensure the rapid social, economic recovery and post-conflict construction,” the permanent representative added.
“The master plans of all cities are being prepared and a number of projects are being implemented with the participation of international partners. At the same time, responsibility for heinous violation of international law must be an inevitable consequence of the committed offenses,” Aliyev added.
He stressed that “fighting impunity is also an important preventive tool and an important prerequisite on the way to lasting peace and genuine reconciliation”.
A Moscow-brokered ceasefire deal that Baku and Yerevan signed on November 10 brought an end to 44 days of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it has occupied since the early 1990s.
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