By Rashid Shirinov
As a result of the Armenian occupation, Azerbaijan has become one of the countries with the largest number of refugees per capita, Spokesman for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry Hikmat Hajiyev said in connection with the World Refugee Day observed on June 20.
“Armenia, in gross violation of international law and the UN Charter, started a war against Azerbaijan, occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions of Azerbaijan, subjecting to ethnic cleansing more than one million Azerbaijanis living in the occupied lands of Azerbaijan, as well as in the territory of Armenia,” he noted.
As a result, taking into account the population growth, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Azerbaijan has exceeded 1.2 million people, Hajiyev stressed.
The spokesman noted that over the past 20 years Azerbaijan spent $6 billion to ensure the social welfare of IDPs, that enabled to significantly reduce poverty and unemployment among IDPs was achieved.
“Voluntary, safe and dignified return to their native land is the only choice demanded by the IDPs themselves. Reconstruction of the Jojug Marjanli village in the occupied Jabrayil region and ensuring the safe and dignified return of the residents of this village to their native land has become a manifestation of the strong intention of the government of Azerbaijan, and is a unique and successful project in terms of post-conflict rehabilitation and solution of the problems of IDPs,” Hajiyev mentioned.
He added that Armenia demonstrates its desire to change the economic, cultural and demographic character of the occupied territories, to prevent the return of the Azerbaijani population of Armenia to their homes and to annex the Azerbaijani lands.
“The policy pursued by Armenia to resettle Armenian refugees from Syria to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, in flagrant violation of the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Additional Protocol, is a clear example of attempts to use human suffering for illegal purposes,” the spokesman stressed.
Hajiyev also noted that the European Court of Human Rights in the case of “Chiragov and others v. Armenia” confirmed the right of return of IDPs to their land and called for respect for human rights related to international humanitarian law and civil rights.
“The only solution to the problem of IDPs is to ensure their safe and dignified return to their native land. Armenia should withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in accordance with the requirements of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and ultimately ensure the return of the displaced Azerbaijani people to their native land and ensure their rights to use their property,” the spokesman noted.
He added that only in this case it is possible to ensure peace and stability in the region.
Armenia broke out a lengthy war against Azerbaijan by laying territorial claims on the country. Since a war in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities.
To this day, Armenia has not implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz