Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused Armenia of hindering the process of normalizing ties between Baku and Yerevan.
“The mentioned circumstances once again demonstrate that while Armenia have not fully withdrawn its forces from the territory of Azerbaijan, in violation of Paragraph 4 of the Trilateral Statement of November 10, 2020, also abuses the Lachin road for its illegal military activities in gross violation of paragraph 6 of the Trilateral Statement by transferring landmines, and hereby carrying out provocations against Azerbaijan,” the ministry’s press service reported on November 24.
“The continuation of military provocations by Armenia in the territories of Azerbaijan, non-withdrawal of its [Armenian] forces completely from our territories, persistence of intentional planting of landmines in our territories are the main threats that impede the large-scale rehabilitation and reconstruction works carried out in the post-conflict period, as well as to the civilians operating in these territories, and to the return of internally displaced persons and their peaceful living in their places”, the statement added.
Referring to the mentioned facts, the ministry said that “Armenia is hindering the normalization process and efforts to establish peace in the region. This action by Armenia is a war crime, a serious violation of international humanitarian law and the obligations undertaken by Armenia within the framework of the Trilateral Statement."
The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said November 22 that a large minefield laid by illegal Armenian armed detachments had been discovered in the northern direction of the Saribaba high ground.
A total of 350 PMN-E anti-personnel mines manufactured in Armenia in 2021 were discovered and defused, the ministry said. On November 23, the commander of the Russian Peacekeeping Mission that is temporarily deployed in Azerbaijan, the heads of the Turkish and Russian contingents of the joint Turkish-Russian Monitoring Center were invited by the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry to observe the minefields and inspect landmines. The military attachés of several foreign states and journalists accredited in Azerbaijan also visited the sight.
Since August of this year, a total of 2,728 landmines with an Armenian production date of 2021 were detected and neutralized, out of which were 1,119 landmines in the Kalbajar and Lachin districts along the border area with Armenia, as well as 1,609 in the territory of the Karabakh Economic Region.
Since the end of the 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, a total of 268 Azerbaijani citizens have become victims of mine explosions, while 45 people were killed by landmines, including 3 journalists. It was reported that 35 of the 45 casualties were civilians.
In the meantime, Azerbaijan has reported regular ceasefire violations in certain parts of the Karabakh region, which are temporarily controlled by Russian peacekeepers, and accused illegal Armenian armed groups of carrying out engineering work in order to fortify their combat positions in the region.
On November 22, 23 and 25, the Armenian armed forces using various caliber weapons periodically subjected to fire the Azerbaijan Army positions stationed in the directions of the Istisu, Yellija and Yukhari Ayrim settlements of the Kalbajar region and Astaf settlement of the Dashkasan region.
Moreover, on November 22 and 25, illegal Armenian armed detachments in the territory of Azerbaijan, where the Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed, periodically fired at Azerbaijani Army positions stationed in the directions of the Shusha, Fuzuli, Khojavand, Aghdam, Terter, and Khojaly regions, according to the defence ministry press service.
Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of using the Lachin corridor, which connects the Armenian-populated part of Azerbaijan's Karabakh region with Armenia and is currently monitored by the Russian peacekeepers, for military purposes and posing military threats to Azerbaijan.
In an article published on November 22, the Azerbaijani news website Haqqin.az said that "a special operation" against illegal Armenian armed detachments in the territory of Azerbaijan, where the Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed, is "inevitable".
It said that Baku was "the only party interested in the full and unconditional disarmament" of the illegal Armenian armed formations (about 10,000-15,000) which remain a source of threat and tension in the region.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that there should be "two tracks" - Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process and issues related to the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan, namely in the Karabakh region, concerning their rights and security.
"We are ready to talk about that with Armenians who live in Karabakh, not with those who have been sent from Moscow hiding in their pockets billions of stolen money from Russian people, like person called Vardanyan who was transferred from Moscow there with a very clear agenda. But we are ready to talk to those people in Karabakh who live there and who want to live there. We are ready. By the way, this process has started. If not for external interference and attempts to block this process from some countries, which I just mentioned, I think the process could have had better dynamics," the president said at a meeting with Dirk Schuebel, the European Union's special envoy for Eastern Partnership, in Baku on November 17.