MFA: Plight of missing Azerbaijanis Baku's top priority
By Sabina Mammadli
Baku has stated that the plight of Azerbaijanis who went missing during the first Karabakh war with Armenia in the early 1990s is a top priority on its agenda.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva made the remarks in response to a query about why Armenia had waited 30 years to share any information about the 4,000 missing Azerbaijanis.
"I would like to emphasize that the Azerbaijani side prioritizes the issue of missing people and will not allow the Armenian side, which is directly responsible for this issue, to remain silent for another 30 years about the fate of over 3,700 missing Azerbaijanis and the location of their mass burial places," Abdullayeva said.
Azerbaijan handed over the remains of over 1,700 servicemen to Armenia immediately after the 44-day second Karabakh war, without expecting any reciprocal action and without receiving any information from Yerevan about thousands of Azerbaijanis who went missing during the first Karabakh war, the spokesperson added.
Abdullayeva said that the discovery of massive graves of Azerbaijanis on the liberated territories and the provision of the international community with evidence resulted in Armenia transferring the remains of 108 of thousands of missing people after 30 years.
She stressed that Armenia had yet to make a statement on the abovementioned subject.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov earlier said that mass graves had been discovered in the liberated lands.
"Azerbaijan discovered mass burials on the liberated territories, so the assertions of the Armenian side that it has no information about these burials are unacceptable. The statements of the Armenian side on this issue are unfounded, and we are sure that the international community will not accept them," the minister said.
On February 8, the Foreign Ministry stated that humanitarian issues were one of the main topics of a virtual meeting attended by French President Emanuel Macron, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, European Council President Charles Michel and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on February 4.
At the meeting, Aliyev underlined that Armenia had to provide information about the mass graves of 3,890 missing Azerbaijani citizens (including 71 children, 267 women and 326 elderly people). The presidents of France and the European Council both supported this issue.
Armenia, which is responsible for determining the fate of about 4,000 missing Azerbaijani citizens, promised to cooperate in this matter.
The ministry stated that Armenia's later denial of its international humanitarian obligations, as well as promises made during the abovementioned meeting, is completely outside the moral, ethical, and legal framework in light of Azerbaijan's discovery and return of the bodies of 1,708 Armenian servicemen.
It should be mentioned that in the 20th century, Armenians perpetrated systematic crimes and atrocities against Azerbaijanis to break the spirit of the nation and annihilate the Azerbaijani people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Khojaly genocide is regarded as the culmination of Armenian mass murders.
Some 613 Azerbaijanis, including 63 children, 106 women and 70 elders were brutally murdered on the ground of national identity in Khojaly in 1992.
This heinous act was preceded by a slew of others. Armenians set fire to around 20 buildings in the Baghanis-Ayrim village of Gazakh region, killing eight Azerbaijanis. A family of five, including a 39-day-old newborn, were all burnt alive.
Between June and December 1991, Armenian troops murdered 12 and wounded 15 Azerbaijanis in Khojavand region's Garadaghli and Asgaran region's Meshali villages.
Armenian military detachments bombed buses on the Shusha-Jamilli, Aghdam-Khojavand, and Aghdam-Garadaghli routes in August and September of the same year, killing 17 Azerbaijanis and injuring over 90 others.
In October and November 1991, Armenians burned, destroyed, and plundered over 30 settlements in the mountainous area of Karabakh, including Tugh, Imarat-Garvand, Sirkhavand, Meshali, Jamilli, Umudlu, Garadaghli, Karkijahan, and other significant villages.
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