By Vafa Ismayilova
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva has described the killing of 32 people (overwhelmingly Armenians, six Azerbaijanis) in the town of Sumgayit in 1988 as a well-planned provocation against Azerbaijan, the Foreign Ministry reported on February 28.
Abdullayeva made the remarks in a comment on the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s accusatory statement against Azerbaijan.
“Unfortunately, we are again talking about the statement of the Armenian side, which is full of lies and fabrications. We have repeatedly responded to the groundless claims of the Armenian side regarding the events in Sumgait, and today I would like to emphasize once again that the bloody events in Sumgait in late February 1988 in the Azerbaijani SSR were a premeditated and well-planned provocation against Azerbaijan,” she said.
Abdullayeva reiterated that an investigation launched into the case by the USSR Prosecutor General's Office revealed the perpetrators and accomplices of the then riots.
“A total of 32 victims were identified; I would like to emphasize that 6 of them were Azerbaijanis,” she added.
The spokesperson stressed that based on numerous testimonies by Armenians living in Sumgayit, Armenian national Eduard Grigoryan, who "personally killed 6 people and raped 3 women of Armenian nationality", led the procession.
She noted that Eduard Grigoryan, sentenced to 12 years in prison, was transferred to Armenia to serve his sentence, and later released.
Abdullayeva pointed out that following the trial into the Sumgayit events of February 27-29, 1988, “92 people, found guilty, were sentenced to imprisonment and one was sentenced to death. For comparison, I would like to note that in the late 1980s, no action was taken against those responsible for the deaths of 217 Azerbaijanis in the Armenian SSR during the forcible expulsion of Azerbaijanis from their historically densely populated areas”.
She added that the developments before and after the Sumgait events, that is the mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from the Armenian SSR, the rise of aggressive separatist tendencies of radical Armenian nationalists in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, the murder on the territory of the Azerbaijan SSR of two Azerbaijanis who became the first victims of the Armenian aggression in Nagorno-Karabakh “clearly shows that these events were links in one chain, and the main goal was a plan to forcibly sever the Nagorno-Karabakh region from Azerbaijan and annex it to Armenia”.
“Armenia, which held Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent regions of Azerbaijan under military occupation for almost thirty years, committed numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the Khojaly genocide, as part of its aggressive policy. However, none of those who committed these crimes has yet been brought to legal responsibility,” Abdullayeva noted.
She stressed that the Yerevan government instead of constructiveness and respect for international law, again made slanderous statements that incite hostility, which indicates that the country's ruling circles still lack common sense at the time, when real opportunities for cooperation appeared in the region with the achievement of an agreement on the cessation of hostilities.
“We remind the Armenian side that the Republic of Azerbaijan has put an end to decades of Armenian military occupation of part of the internationally recognized sovereign territory, ensured the implementation of the related UN Security Council resolutions of 1993, and a trilateral statement of 10 November 2020 established a new security format in the region. In this case, it is the choice of Armenia either to take practical steps to implement this statement for its future development and pursue a policy of good-neighbourliness based on strict observance of the principles of international law, or throw its people into the abyss in spite of its obligations,” she concluded.
On November 10, Baku and Yerevan signed a Moscow-brokered deal that brought an end to six weeks 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.
On January 11, 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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