Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the OSCE: Armenia's statements aim to mislead the international community

The Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the OSCE made a statement at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council held today, reports.

The statement reads:

"North Macedonia has assumed the Chairmanship of our Organization amidst the continued deterioration of the overall security environment in the OSCE region, further crosion of trust and confidence and deepening rivalry among politico-military blocks. Unconditional respect for fundamental norms, principles and commitments enshrined in the core OSCE documents, starting from the Helsinki Final Act, in particular respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of States is the bedrock of security and stability, as well as the basis for cooperation within the OSCE.

Building security and restoring trust and confidence among the OSCE participating States is possible only through ensuring unconditional respect for these principles. They cannot be subject to any re-interpretation or negotiation and must be strictly observed and implemented equally and unreservedly without any exception, double standards, geographic or any other preferences.

We welcome that progress towards peace will be on top of your Chairmanship agenda. Indeed, despite gloomy security environment, in some parts of the OSCE region, namely in the South Caucasus, there is a hope for a long-awaited peace and stability. The trilateral statement of 10 November 2020 put an end to the three-decade-long armed conflict. Azerbaijan restored its previously infringed sovereignty peace, security and stability in our region. The trilateral statements provide a clear guidance for attaining sustainable peace, security and stability in our region.

Armenia is yet to implement the provisions of the trilateral statement, by fully withdrawing its armed forces and ilegal armed formations from the territories of Azerbaijan and restoring the transport links that would allow unimpeded access between mainland Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

Along with large-scale post-conflict recovery, reconstruction and reintegration works, Azerbaijan has also initiated the process of normalizing inter-State relations with Armenia. Despite devastating consequences and unhealed wounds of war and occupation, Azerbaijan offered Armenia peace based on mutual recognition and respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity within their state borders. For the past two years Azerbaijan has been demonstrating strong political will to promote the peace agenda.

However, the progress remains limited in three major tracks of Armenia-Azerbaijan inter-state normalization process, namely, signing a peace treaty, delimitation of borders and opening of regional communications.

At meetings held last year in Brussels, Prague and Sochi at the highest level both sides confirmed their mutual recognition of each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of borders. This can lead to and provide a good basis for the peace treaty. This year will be crucial in demonstrating whether Armenia is genuinely interested in turning the page of confrontation and establishing peace in the region or prefers continuing its past practice of imitation rather than engaging constructively in the process.

We urge Armenia, if this country is genuinely interested in peace and stability in the region, to put an end to statements and actions against sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, to desist from its long-held pattern of behavior, which is to undermine reached agreements and evade the implementation of its commitments, abandon its attempts aimed at undermining the process of post-conflict normalization and ensure that necessary further steps are taken in this direction.

In this context, we reject the attempts by Armenia to politicize the latest developments on the Lachin road by presenting it as a "humanitarian crisis".

As has been stated several times, Azerbaijan has not put any restriction on the traffic along the Lachin road. The regime for the movement along the road continues to be the same as it was before.

What has been presented by Armenia as so-called "blockage" to the passage through the Lachin road is the exercise by a group of Azerbaijani citizens of their right to peaceful assembly in response to plundering of natural resources of Azerbaijan and misuse of the road for the activities not envisaged by the trilateral statement, including for military purposes, as well as transporting and planting new mines that kill and maim civilians. The protesters declared no intention to block the traffic along the road. The videos disseminated through social media testify to the unhindered passage of the various kinds of vehicles along the road, including civilian and emergency vehicles.

The alleged "humanitarian catastrophe" is a product of disinformation campaign launched by Armenia with the purpose of misleading the international community. The local residents themselves through their public statements and social media over the past weeks confirmed that there was no shortage of food, medicaments or any other supply. According to our information only between 12 December 2022, the date on which the demonstration of Azerbaijani environmentalists, protesting against the illegal exploitation of Karabakh's natural resources, began, and 5 January 2023, a total of 370 vehicles had passed - in both directions - along the Lachin Road. Of the vehicles in question, 330 belonged to the Russian 'peacekeeping' contingent and 31, including ambulances, were from the ICRC, with the remaining three being cars of local Armenian residents.

It must be noted that the protests by a group of civilian activists have nothing to do with the implementation by Azerbaijan of its commitment under trilateral statement. Specifically, on the secure movement of citizens, goods and vehicles along the Lachin road, regulations remain intact.

Azerbaijan has not put any restriction in this regard. Azerbaijan has not only consistently implemented all its commitments, including those under the trilateral statement, but it has also consistently drawn the attention of the international community to gross and blatant violations of this very document by Armenia, including in terms of the use of the Lachin road. In this regard, calls to comply with the trilateral statement in view of the recent situation must be addressed to Armenia. There is abundant evidence showing that the road has been widely exploited for military purposes and for the trafficking of natural resources by Armenia-affiliated companies. It is obstruction of the visit and monitoring of Azerbaijan's experts that has legitimately caused deep resentment among the Azerbaijani society and forced a group of eco-activists to launch demonstrations. Nevertheless, the Government of Azerbaijan has taken seriously the possible negative impact of the situation, and on several occasions, over the past weeks we have declared our readiness to address any humanitarian concern of our citizens of Armenian origin on the ground. If there is any impediment to the deliveries of foodstuff, it is done by the Armenian side who wants to exploit the present situation for whatever goals it tries to achieve."

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