By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov has thanked the UK for rendering assistance in demining the country’s territories liberated from the Armenian occupation, the ministry’s press service has reported.
Receiving UK Ambassador James Sharp on June 10, Bayramov spoke about the consequences of mines planted by Armenia on Azerbaijan’s formerly occupied territories.
The two men also discussed the recent tensions on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, the steps taken by Azerbaijan to fulfill the trilateral statements signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia in 2020.
Regional and international security issues of mutual interest were also on the agenda of the meeting.
It should be noted that an expert of the UK Defence Ministry's Counter Explosives Defence Engagement office visited Azerbaijan on June 8 "to see how the UK can assist Azerbaijan in demining liberated lands", according to the UK embassy’s official Twitter page.
“Last Friday’s [June 4] tragic event in Kalbajar again reminds us of the devastating humanitarian risk posed by unexploded mines and left-over ordnances,” the embassy stated, with reference to the killing of two Azerbaijani journalists and a local official in a mine blast in Kalbajar.
In another Tweet on June 7, the embassy stated that the UK is proud to be working with the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action and UNICEF Azerbaijan in a mine awareness program to protect people and children in the conflict-affected regions from mines.
Over 140 Azerbaijan citizens have been killed or injured in mine explosions since November 10.
Armenia deliberately and constantly planted mines on Azerbaijani territories, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, thereby being a major threat to regional peace, security and cooperation.
Yerevan refuses to provide maps of hundreds of thousands of mines it had planted on the Azerbaijani territories over three decades of occupation.
Azerbaijan's Mine Action Agency defused 7,449 antipersonnel mines, 3,643 anti-tank mines, and 9,033 unexploded munitions from November 10, 2020, to May 31, 2021. In this period, the agency cleared 2,763.5 hectares of mines and unexploded ordnance.
Azerbaijan has made numerous appeals to international organizations and lodged an intergovernmental complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over Armenia's refusal to provide maps of mines in the formerly occupied territories.
The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended on November 10 with the signing of a trilateral peace deal by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders.
The peace agreement stipulated the return of Azerbaijan's Armenian-occupied Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions. Before the signing of the deal, the Azerbaijani army had liberated around 300 villages, settlements, city centres and historic Shusha city. 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.
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