By Vafa Ismayilova
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva has recommended the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to urge Armenia to refrain from provocations on the two countries' border, the Foreign Ministry reported on May 31.
Abdullayeva made the remarks while commenting on a statement by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs made on May 28, 2021.
“Before proposing an exchange of detainees on the principle of ‘all for all’, the co-chairs should at least pay attention to the reasons for their detention and urge the provocateurs to refrain from such activities. We have repeatedly stated that we support a negotiated settlement of border tensions, as well as calls by the international community for the demarcation and delimitation of the border between the two countries,” she said.
Abdullayeva stressed that Azerbaijan repeatedly expressed its official position on the issues mentioned in the co-chairs' statement, the recent Azerbaijani-Armenian border tensions, an Armenian sabotage group's attempt to commit a terrorist act trying to cross into Azerbaijan's territory, the border delimitation and demarcation, and the provision of humanitarian access to the region.
“In connection with the six detained Armenian servicemen, to whom the co-chairs refer in their statement, we remind that these Armenian servicemen were detained while committing a provocation aimed at mining roads,” she said.
The spokesperson added that Armenia's refusal to provide mine maps when Armenian-planted anti-personnel mines on Azerbaijan's liberated territories pose a threat to peoples' lives on a daily basis and also the attempt to lay new mines does not fit into any framework.
She noted that Azerbaijan had mobilized all efforts to restore the liberated territories, ensure the two nations' peaceful coexistence in these lands and that it is taking appropriate measures in the said sphere.
“On the basis of the principles of international law, cooperation with international humanitarian organizations is carried out, including appropriate steps were taken to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by the war in Karabakh,” she noted.
Abdullayeva underlined that Azerbaijan supported the recent proposal to establish a trilateral commission on the delimitation and demarcation of the Azerbaijani-Armenian border.
“Normalizing interstate relations, starting the demarcation and delimitation of borders and, finally, laying a solid foundation for the peaceful coexistence can only be based on strict observance of the norms of the international law on sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders,” she noted.
The spokesperson stressed that the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries "can contribute to peace and development in the region by supporting the implementation of trilateral statements [signed by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders on November 10, 2020, and January 11, 2021]”.
OSCE Minsk Group statement
In their statement, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs mentioned the detention of six Armenians on May 27 and called for "the release of all prisoners of war and other detainees on an all for all basis". They underscored "the obligation to treat detainees in accordance with international humanitarian law" and urged the sides to lift all restrictions on humanitarian access to Nagorno-Karabakh. They called on the sides to implement in full the commitments they undertook under the November ceasefire declaration.
The co-chairs expressed concern over reports of incidents on the non-demarcated Armenia-Azerbaijan border. They called on the sides to de-escalate the situation and to begin negotiations to delimitate and demarcate the border peacefully.
Earlier, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde expressed concern about repeated reports on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border incidents.
"Concerned about repeated reports of incidents on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. All outstanding issues must be resolved peacefully through negotiation. OSCE stands ready to assist and implement confidence-building measures to create an atmosphere conducive to dialogue," Linde tweeted.
In the early hours of May 27, a group of Armenian saboteurs sought to cross into Azerbaijani territories to plant mines on the supply routes leading to the Azerbaijani Army. Azerbaijan detained six of the saboteurs.
The border incidents have gained new momentum after the war in 2020 as the two sides have not agreed on the delimitation of the border.
Azerbaijan and Armenia resumed the war after that latter started firing at Azerbaijani civilians and military positions starting September 27, 2020. The war ended on November 10 with the signing of a trilateral peace deal by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders.
The peace agreement stipulated the return of Azerbaijan's Armenian-occupied Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions. Before the signing of the deal, the Azerbaijani Army had liberated around 300 villages, settlements, city centers, and historic Shusha city. 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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