Azerbaijani envoy to France unveils authentic reasons behind ongoing protests on Lachin road
Azerbaijani Ambassador to France Leyla Abdullayeva has denied reports about the blockade of the Lachin road and revealed the purpose of the ongoing protests near Shusha, Azernews reports, citing her interview with the French website Revue Conflits.
The Azerbaijani environmental activists have been picketing the road in protest at the illegal military and commercial activities, including the illegal exploitation of natural resources that cause serious damage to the environment.
"The road is not closed! Trucks are passing through it; there are many videos showing the free movement of peacekeepers' trucks, and vehicles of the ICRC. Azerbaijan has even created "hotlines" so that Armenian residents can call in case of emergency. The Azerbaijani government wants to emphasize that, if necessary, it is ready to help and respond to their humanitarian needs," the ambassador specified.
Besides, the ambassador once again recalled that in accordance with the tripartite statement, the Lachin-Khankandi road should be used for humanitarian purposes. She added that despite the obligations taken under the statement, Armenia has been using this road to transfer weapons, mines, and military personnel to the territory of Azerbaijan for the last two years.
"Over the past period, over 2,700 Armenian-made mines have been found on the territory of Azerbaijan. These mines were produced in 2021, in the period after the signing of the tripartite declaration. Armenians transported anti-personnel mines along the road to prevent the return of former Azerbaijani IDPs to their native lands. After the Armenian occupation in 1994, hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis were displaced from these territories,” she underlined.
The diplomat stressed Azerbaijan’s intention to restore this region as soon as possible and allow the quick return of IDPs, noting that Armenia does not want to accept the post-conflict situation, so it continues to transfer weapons, militants, and mines to the territory of Azerbaijan in order to prevent the return of former internally displaced persons.
She also added that Azerbaijan considered Armenians living in Khankandi as its own citizens, thus promising to ensure their rights in accordance with the country’s constitution.
Abdullayeva emphasized Azerbaijan’s initiative to normalize relations with Armenia after the end of the second Karabakh war and a proposal to sign a peace treaty against the backdrop of the mass destruction of Azerbaijan’s heritage during the occupation.
She then outlined that although the leaders of the two countries have frequently met in Brussels, Prague, and Sochi nearing the signing of the peace treaty, Armenian provocations prevented it every time.
“For example, in September, the situation on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border escalated. The Armenians tried to plant mines on the territory of Azerbaijan, and we reacted to this aggression," the ambassador added.
Following discussions with the command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent on December 3 and 7, 2022, Azerbaijani specialists from the Ministries of Economy, Ecology, and Natural Resources, the State Service for Property Issues under the Ministry of Economy, and AzerGold Company were to conduct primary monitoring on illegal exploitation of mineral deposits on Azerbaijani territory. However, the monitoring failed due to the provocation of ethnic Armenians.
After the Russian peacekeepers' failure to provide the necessary conditions for the Azerbaijani agency representatives to carry out their duties in the area, a group of eco-activists, NGOs, and public representatives have taken to the street in protest at the peacekeepers' repugnance to live up to their obligations in line with the November 10, 2020, peace deal to maintain peace and order in the region, and oust the Armenian troops from the region and prevent illegalities. However, time proved that the Russian peacekeepers are driven by the interests of Russia rather than the idea coming from the essence of the notion of peacekeeping as universally understood.
Sabina Mammadli is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @SabinaMmdl
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