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Parliament holds hearing on tensions on frontline - UPDATE

13 May 2016 17:13 (UTC+04:00)
Parliament holds hearing on tensions on frontline - UPDATE

By Gunay Camal

Azerbaijan has started a decisive stage to eliminate the consequences of Armenian aggression, liberate its occupied territories and restore its territorial integrity.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov made the remark at the hearings in the Azerbaijani Parliament on the "Recent developments along the line of contact: Problems of the international humanitarian law" on May 13.

Noting that Armenia's territorial claims against Azerbaijan stand at the root of the conflict, Khalafov expressed regret over the fact that the conflict is called the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"Unfortunately, the former authorities of Azerbaijan failed to prevent it and in 1992, at the time of adoption of the Helsinki document on the conflict, it was named the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," he said. "In reality, it is the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and Armenia's territorial claims against Azerbaijan are the root of this conflict."

He noted that Armenia is interested in staging provocations in the process of settlement of the conflict and has to date staged numerous provocations along the line of contact.

Armenia's main purpose is to protract the conflict and achieve the problem's settlement in line with its own interests, he said, reminding that Azerbaijan has always suppressed the attempts taken to fulfill those plans.

Armenia, which is responsible for the early April clashes on the line of contact, has chosen the aggressive policy, said the deputy FM.

He added that Azerbaijan faced humanitarian problems as a result of the Armenian aggression. "Currently, the European Union is in perplexity after having faced the problem of a million refugees, whereas Azerbaijan coped with the problem of refugees and IDPs on its own," said Khalafov.

Spokesman for Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry Vagif Dargahli, addressing the hearings, announced that Azerbaijani Armed Forces killed more than 320 Armenian servicemen during the April clashes on the contact line of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops.

He added that more than 500 Armenian soldiers were injured, 30 enemy tanks and other armored vehicles, as well as more than 25 artillery pieces were destroyed during the counter attacks of Azerbaijan.

Dargahli said that Armenia was carrying out various provocative actions prior to the April events as well. “In 2014, immediately after the meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Armenian side held large-scale military exercises in Azerbaijan's occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region,” he added.

Dargahli further reminded that Armenia has been shelling Azerbaijani civilians as well.

The shelling of civilians became frequent since March 2016, said Dargahli, adding that in response to these actions Azerbaijani Armed Forces inflicted strikes on the enemy positions, having destroyed numerous manpower and military equipment of the enemy.

Armenians desecrated the dead bodies of Azerbaijani servicemen killed during the April events on the frontline, senior assistant to Azerbaijan's military prosecutor, Colonel Safar Ahmadov said.

Ahmadov noted that during the inspection of the dead bodies of servicemen handed over to the Azerbaijani side, it was revealed that those bodies were desecrated.

A criminal case has been initiated upon the fact in Terter District Prosecutor's Office and an investigation is underway, he added.

"Moreover, the Eskipara village of Azerbaijan's Terter district was subjected to shelling on Apr.26-28. An artillery shell was found on a cotton field in the village," said Ahmadov. "It was revealed that it is a poisonous 122-mm artillery shell. An investigation on the criminal cases continues."

The situation on the frontline aggravated on April 2 after the Armenian military units in the occupied lands began shelling Azerbaijan’s positions. To protect civilian population, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces launched counter attacks and as a result, the Azerbaijani troops retook hills around the village of Talish, as well as Seysulan settlement, and also took over Lele Tepe hill located in the direction of Fizuli region.

Azerbaijan and Armenia declared a truce brokered by Russia on April 5. But, still Armenia continues to breach the ceasefire, firing the worst violence in more than 20 years in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.

As many as 32 criminal cases in connection with the premeditated murder of Azerbaijani civilians by Armenia and destruction of property were initiated in the prosecutor's offices of Azerbaijan's Tartar, Aghdam, Fuzuli and Agjabadi regions in April 2016, head of the investigation control department of the General Prosecutor's Office of Azerbaijan Nazim Abbasov said.

"Armenia has violated the rules of international humanitarian law," said Abbasov, addressing the hearings. "The deaths of six civilians were caused by shots fired at settlements."

The head of the department also noted that 641 houses were damaged, adding that work on collecting the proofs of crimes committed by the Armenian side continues.

Chingiz Asgarov, chief of section of the department on work with law enforcement bodies at Azerbaijan's Presidential Administration, for his announced that the European Court of Human Rights made a decision to review two grievances on the crimes committed by Armenian armed forces on the frontline

Asgarov noted that the citizens have filed grievances over the crimes committed by Armenian armed forces.

"Applications to the European Court of Human Rights should be submitted by lawyers," he said. "If the communication process with regard to these grievances starts soon, the Azerbaijani side will take relevant steps."

Based on the information received from lawyers, Asgarov said that grievances over the houses destroyed by Armenian armed forces will also be submitted to the European Court of Human Rights soon.

"People should appeal to the European Court over the damages, the destroyed houses, since their rights defined by the European Convention have been violated," he added.

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a lengthy war that ended with the signing of a fragile ceasefire in 1994. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities. Since the war, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

The OSCE Minsk Group acted as the only mediator in resolution of the conflict, proceeding talks based on the renewed Madrid principles.

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