By Vafa Ismayilova
Armenia has destroyed and vandalized Azerbaijani territories it held under three-decades-long occupation following the first Karabakh War in the early 1990s. The scale of destruction in Azerbaijan’s formerly-occupied territories is shocking and suggests deep hatred and animosity against Azerbaijani people, with many experts describing these mass destructions as genocide.
The country’s war-torn Aghdam region is seen as a glaring example displaying Armenia’s hatred and enmity. Known as Hiroshimo of the Caucasus, Aghdam shocks delegations from various countries with notorious scenes of destruction.
Sharing his views about the current situation in Aghdam, Russian political analyst and military expert Igor Korotchenko said that the scale of Armenian destructions in Aghdam speaks of genocide.
"Such a scale of destruction in modern human history was only in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were subjected to atomic bombing. And now Aghdam. Therefore, it will obviously take decades to rebuild and restore everything. Of course, this is a war crime, a crime against humanity. Because this kind of destruction is not even vandalism or barbarism, it is something worse. This is genocide," Korotchenko said in an interview with Day.az after his visit to Aghdam on May 1.
He noted that those who saw today's Aghdam have the feeling that an atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Aghdam is reminiscent of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"The Armenians, of course, did not detonate an atomic bomb, they detonated a bomb of hatred towards the Azerbaijani people here. The scale of the destruction is terrifying. Currently, there is no place in the world where the consequences of vandalism, hatred and enmity are clearly demonstrated," he added.
It should be noted that the situation in other liberated cities and villages is no different than from Aghdam.
The recent discovery of a mass grave of victims of the Armenian-committed massacre in Kalbajar region's Bashlybel village in April 1993 is yet another example of Armenian vandalism, suggesting that it is worth expecting the discovery of other mass graves in Karabakh given that thousands of people are still missing since the first Karabakh war.
Persisting mine threat
Korotchenko noted that when crossing the line that used to separate the occupied territories from the one that was under the control of Azerbaijan, there were continuous minefields along the road to the left and right.
"On the way, there were signs with the words 'Caution, mines!', warning that the area around was mined. Unfortunately, the situation with mines is exactly the same on other territories that returned to Azerbaijan’s control following the results of the Second Karabakh war," he said.
The expert described it as the main humanitarian problem today.
"At the same time, Armenia refuses to provide maps of minefields, thereby endangering the lives of not only Russian peacekeepers and Azerbaijani citizens. The mines are already undermining the Armenians, that is, the civilians living in Azerbaijan's Karabakh," he said.
Korotchenko believes that the problem must be solved immediately, it is not even of a military-political, but of a humanitarian nature.
"Obviously, the problem must be put to the vote of the UN Security Council, in view of the fact that Armenia does not want to provide maps of minefields. A special resolution must be adopted, forcing Armenia to provide Azerbaijan with maps of minefields. By the way, we expect the same from the European Parliament and France, who actively support Armenia, but do not say anything about the problem associated with Armenian mines," he stressed.
The expert reiterated that it is necessary to exert political pressure on Armenia, including from Russia, other countries and the UN Security Council, so that Armenia would provide maps of minefields.
"Armenia has them, but the Armenian side refuses to do so, which deserves only unequivocal condemnation. There can be no justification for this, "Korotchenko said.
Armenia has spent around billion dollars on mining the occupied areas and has been refusing to provide Azerbaijan maps of mines planted in territories it had occupied.
Earlier in late April, delegations from France and Israel visited liberated territories, including Aghdam and the second largest-city Ganja subjected to Armenia’s missile attacks during the war. Commenting on the situation she had witnessed French lawyer Eliza Arfi said the world community must know about Armenian-committed atrocities in Azerbaijan.
"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.
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.
Armenia has refused to provide maps for around 100,000 mines it planted in the Azerbaijani lands occupied during the war in the early 1990s.
Some 21 Azerbaijani citizens, including 14 civilians were killed and 87 citizens, 16 civilians were injured in mine explosions in liberated lands since the signing of the Karabakh peace deal on November 10, 2020.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that demining of liberated lands will be the first step in ensuring the return of Azerbaijani IDPs to their homes in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. He said that Armenia’s refusal to provide maps of mines amounts to a war crime.
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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