By Vafa Ismayilova
Baku has said that foreign legal entities, individuals and their vehicles cannot enter the Azerbaijani territories without the country's consent and such cases violate Azerbaijan's laws.
"Legal entities and individuals of other countries and their vehicles cannot enter the territory of Azerbaijan without the consent of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and such cases are a violation of our country's laws," the Defence Ministry said in a statement posted on its website on September 12.
It added that letters had been addressed to the Russian Defence Ministry and the Russian peacekeeping forces command over the illegal entry of vehicles belonging to other countries into the Azerbaijani territories where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed.
"The letters noted that such cases run counter to the trilateral statement signed by the Azerbaijani, Russian presidents and the Armenian prime minister on November 10, 2020, and it was requested to prevent such cases," the ministry stated.
On September 10, the new commander of the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh, Mikhail Kosobokov, met Defence Minister Zakir Hasanov. At the meeting, the officials focused on the latest situation on the Azerbaijani territories, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed.
On September 11, the local media reported that a lot of Iranian trucks continue to illegally enter the Azerbaijani territories in Karabakh under the temporary Russian peacekeeper control.
From August 11 to September 10, 58 trucks, for various purposes, entered Khankandi, in particular, with fuels and lubricants. Fifty-five trucks later left. From July 11 to August 8, 35 Iranian vehicles (4 trucks and 31 fuel trucks) 70 times entered and exited through the Lachin corridor. The dates are also available: July 11, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 27, 28, 29, 31, and also August 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, the media reported.
On August 11, 2021, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry summoned Iranian ambassador Seyyed Abbas Mousavi and handed over Baku's protest note, expressing serious concern about the illegal transportation of goods by Iranian trucks to Azerbaijan's Karabakh region. At the time, Baku stated that it counts on practical steps from Iran, which should have put an end to such illegal activities.
The local news sources underlined that "Iranians and Armenians resort to various tricks. For example, when approaching the zone of temporary responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers, they put Armenian plates on Iranian trucks in order to hide the exact number of Iranian trucks heading to Khankandi. The plan wasn't without flaws though - the Iranians were using the same, repeated plates, slapping them on different trucks".
Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev earlier said that "some discussions" on additional legal mechanisms for the mandate of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh are still underway.
He noted that the activities and operations of Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh were carried out in line with the trilateral declaration signed by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders on November 10.
The presidential aide added that the November 10 trilateral agreement established a "political and to some extent legal framework" for peacekeeping forces.
"As for additional agreements and additional legal mechanisms on the mandate of peacekeepers, the parties have had initial contacts and some discussions are still ongoing," Hajiyev said.
He stressed that all territories in Karabakh are Azerbaijan's sovereign lands.
"All of Karabakh is the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, the international community recognizes Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and in accordance with the November 10 statement, peacekeeping forces have been temporarily deployed in a certain part of Azerbaijan's Karabakh region," the presidential aide underlined.
About 2,000 Russian peacekeepers have been deployed for five years in Karabakh under the Moscow-brokered trilateral cease-fire deal signed in 2020. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw all its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it had occupied since the early 1990s.
The deal also stipulated the return of Azerbaijan’s Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions. Before the signing of the peace deal, Azerbaijan liberated 300 villages, settlements, city centres, and historic Shusha city that had been under Armenian occupation for about 30 years.
On August 11, 2021, Azerbaijan urged the Russian peacekeepers to end the illegal deployment of Armenian troops on Azerbaijan’s territories under their temporary control.
Later on August 14, President Ilham Aliyev reiterated that Azerbaijan has recently identified that Armenian troops are being sent to Karabakh via the Lachin corridor that is controlled by the Russian peacekeepers and stressed that this contradicts the 10 November 2020 peace deal signed by Baku, Moscow and Yerevan.