Hikmat Hajiyev, Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan and Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, stated that instead of creating false hype about the Lachin road, Armenia should acknowledge its occupation of Azerbaijani villages that are located far from the Karabakh region.
“Seven villages of the Gazakh district and one village of Nakhchivan are still under [Armenian] occupation,” the Baku-based Report news service quotes Hajiyev as saying.
According to him, even though Yerevan recognized Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty during the Prague and Sochi meetings in October 2022, Armenia is still occupying Azerbaijani territories.
Starting in the late 1980s, Armenia’s unfounded territorial claims and aggression against Azerbaijan extended beyond the Karabakh (Garabagh) region and affected other regions of Azerbaijan. Since the early 1990s, the villages of the far western Gazakh district of Azerbaijan, situated on the border with Armenia over 100 kilometers northwest of the Karabakh region, have been under attack by armed Armenian forces. At that time, the Soviet Union government had ordered the confiscation of all types of weapons from the population and government offices in the Gazakh region, leaving the local population defenseless against the Armenian military.
Between 1990 and 1992, the Armenian military forcibly expelled the unarmed local population from seven villages in Gazakh, including Sofulu, Barkhudarli, Baganis Ayrım, Gizil Hajili, Yukhari Eskipara, Ashagi Eskipara, and Kheyrimli. Over seven thousand people were brutally displaced from the occupied villages and settled in temporary residential areas across the Gazakh district. Today, some of the occupied villages of Gazakh are inhabited by Armenians who were illegally relocated, while others remain in ruins following the conflict.
In Nakhchivan, the village of Karki was seized by the Armenian military. Historical sources indicate that in the 1930s, the leadership of the USSR secretly transferred a large piece of land surrounding Karki to Armenia. Two Armenians, Gadakchiyan and Isakhyan, who were working in the Central Executive Committee of Azerbaijan SSR at the time, signed the protocol for the transfer of these lands to Armenia. In order to prevent discontent among the local Azerbaijani population, a small area containing Karki was kept within Soviet Azerbaijan, while an area of over 900 hectares around the village was ceded to Armenia based on a fake document. This resulted in the complete isolation of Karki from Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan, as it became an enclave entirely surrounded by Armenia.
Karki was finally occupied by Armenian forces in 1990 and was renamed Tigranashen by the Armenian government. Nearly 1,000 people were expelled from the village and relocated to the village of Yeni Karki (New Karki) in the Kangarli district of Azerbaijan. After the occupation, Armenians were illegally settled in Karki. As of 2022, a total of 200 Armenians, or 40 families, are living in Karki, where they also established an Armenian school.
The occupation of these villages paved the way for the Armenian aggression to move toward the Karabakh region. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan that lasted until a ceasefire deal was reached in 1994. As a result, Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. Over 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed, and one million were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by Armenia.
On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict between the two countries spiraled after Armenia’s forces illegally deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During counter-attack operations, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha. The war ended in a statement signed on November 10, 2020, under which Armenia returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.
Currently, the seven villages of Gazakh and the village of Karki in Nakhchivan remain under illegal Armenian occupation.