Azay Guliyev: My response to baseless allegations on so called “ethnic cleansing” in Garabagh region of Azerbaijan.
As it is well known, Azerbaijan had suffered for 30 year-long occupation of its 1\5 sovereign territories by Armenia, people of Azerbaijan had been subjected to genocide (in 1992, Khojaly), ethnic cleansing (800K Azerbaijanis had been forcibly expelled from Nagorno Karabakh and 7 surrounding districts in 1992-1993), 8 cities and hundreds of villages leveled to ground. Despite 4 relevant UN Security Consul resolutions demanding the complete and unconditional withdraw of Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijan, no action had been taken to this end neither by Armenia nor by international organizations or individual countries.
On September 27, 2020 Azerbaijan started to liberate its territories and eventually forced Armenia to sign Trilateral Statement on 10 November 2020 resulting in restoration of its territorial integrity. Along with other commitments, Armenia undertook an obligation to windthrow its 10K strong military formation from Garabagh and reopen all communications with Azerbaijan under this Statement. As usual, Armenia did not honor its commitments, not only refused to windthrow its illegal armed forces, on contrary, continued rotation and finance its illegal military forces and planting landmines in the area.
On 19 September 2023 Azerbaijan launched local counter-terrorist measures in response to anti-tank mine explosions recently planted by illegal Armenian armed unites in Garabakh causing the causalities of 5 police and 2 civilians wounding 7 others. it is worse mentioning that the counter-terrorist measures had been conducted in very accurate way and only targeted on legitimate military objects and illegal armed forces of the Republic of Armenia stationed in Azerbaijan. After 23 hours and 51 minutes, namely on 20 September 2023 by 13:00 Azerbaijan successfully completed it and illegal armed formation of the Republic of Armenia agreed on putting down guns and to be disarmed and disbanded. So, Azerbaijan fully restored its sovereignty in all Garabagh region after 31 years of occupation.
Moreover, puppet regime installed by Armenia in Garabagh also accepted its dissolving and long pending proposal of official Baku to hold a meeting in Yevlakh city for detailed discussions the reintegration process of Armenian residents into Constitutional order of Azerbaijan.
For the last 7 days, 3 meetings have been successfully held between representatives of Armenian residents and central authority which significantly contributed to resolution of humanitarian and health care issues of local population by Azerbaijani government. On 21 September 2023 Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan has made a public statement and officially pledged to guaranty safety, security, and wellbeing of Armenian residents of Garabagh region of Azerbaijan under its Constitution.
Now, a few words about those Armenians leaving Garabagh and so called “ethnic cleansing” claims.
First and foremost, it must be understood that no one, be it Azerbaijani authority or its representatives have been forcing Armenians in Garbagh to leave the region. On contrary, as I mentioned earlier, we consistently made a call for safe and dignified reintegration of Armenian residents and Azerbaijan is not/cannot /will not be interesting in massive departure of its potential citizens from the area, particularly, after restoring its sovereignty all over the region.
According to my observation and conducted interviews by media, those Armenians who leave Garabakh should be divided into three categories:
The first category of people is the one who still lives with the ideology of separatism and “miatsum” (unification) with Armenia categorically rejecting the sovereignty and constitutional order of Azerbaijan in Garabakh. Under such circumstances they had to decide where to live and nobody can prevent them from making an appropriate decision in this regard.
The second category of people leaving our territories is the one who has a citizenship of Russian Federation and other foreign countries. It is known that, legislation in Azerbaijan does not allow a dual citizenship and these categories of people should make a choice on which passport do they prefer?
The third category of people are those who temporarily leave Garabagh unless situation is fully normalized and all reintegration tools and mechanisms are enough clear. I do believe that this type of people is in majority and they will be returned as soon as they realized a real difference made by the government of Azerbaijan on the ground.
Having analyzed all situation in good faith, nobody can claim that there is an intention by Azerbaijan to pursue an ethnic cleansing policy towards Armenians from Garabagh. Such accusations are simply null and void. We resolutely reject such groundless accusations made by Armenian government in close orchestration of some international media such as CNN, BBC, DW, NBS and others.
No serious man in the world can believe in such manipulation and propaganda on “ethnic cleansing” when Azerbaijan renders all kind of supports to Armenians in Garabakh and tirelessly working to ensure their safety and dignified reintegration into our society.
In conclusion, I would recommend those who want to be sure how ethnic cleansing is being done, just to look at the very fact that up to one million expelled Azerbaijanis subjected to real ethnic cleansing 3 decades ago are still waiting for fully de-mining all liberated territories and reconstruction of their ruined cities, villages to make them able to return back to their homes.
By Azay Guliyev (Azerbaijan) was elected Chair at the 2022 Annual Session in Birmingham.
He previously served as Vice-President and as Vice-Chair of the General Committee on Political Affairs and Security. He furthermore served as OSCE PA Special Representative on South East Europe from August 2021 until July 2022.
A member of his national parliament since 2005, Dr. Guliyev currently serves on the Permanent Committee on State Building and Legislative Policy and is the author of the law on “Voluntary Act” and the law on “Civic Participation” of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He also heads the Azerbaijan-Romania Inter-parliamentary Working Group and is a member of several other working groups promoting Azerbaijan's bilateral relations with various countries. Since 2008, he has also served as Head of the Council on State Support to NGOs.
Guliyev has been a member of Azerbaijan's OSCE PA Delegation since 2005 and has participated in election observation missions to Belarus, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine. Since assuming the position of the Vice President of the OSCE PA, Guliyev has served as the Head of the OSCE PA Election Observation Mission to Montenegro and the fortmer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and as Special Co-ordinator of the short-term OSCE observer mission to Kyrgyzstan.