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Tensions Soar as Armenia's Leadership Supports Illegal Separatist 'Inauguration'

By Mushvig Mehdiyev May 22, 2020

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Khankendi city of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region occupied by Armenia / Alex Webb / National Geographic

Yerevan has once again fueled tensions with Baku by arranging a so-called "presidential inauguration" in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

Following Armenian Foreign Ministry's calling the fabricated oath of office a "democratic process," officials at the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan said that speaking about democracy in the territories of another country is a testament to the aggression shown by Yerevan.

"The fact that the Armenian Foreign Ministry called the show around the so-called “inauguration” in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan a “democratic process” testifies not only the true nature of this aggressor state but also how far it is from the concept of democracy," the ministry's spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva said in a statement issued on Thursday.

"The occupation of the internationally recognized territory of another state, the ethnic cleansing of the people living there, thus a gross violation of human rights is called aggression in the language of modern international law, not democracy," the statement added.

After winning two-phase illegal "presidential elections" to the unrecognized separatist regime in the occupied Azerbaijani lands in March and April, Arayik Harutunyan was allegedly sworn in on Thursday in Azerbaijan's occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region's Shusha city. By participating in the so-called "inauguration", Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, tried to justify the occupation of Azerbaijani lands, calling the move as "liberation" during his speech.

Head of the Azerbaijani Community of the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region, Tural Ganjaliyev accused Armenia's leader of insulting the internally displaced persons (IDP) in Azerbaijan and inflicting a blow on the process for solving the conflict peacefully.

"This is in stark contrast to the intention to "prepare the peoples for peace" announced at a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in January 2019," Ganjaliyev said.

Around one million Azerbaijanis remain internally displaced decades after a war that broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in the early 1990s. Anti-Azerbaijan sentiments in Armenia that broke out in the late 1980s escalated into a full-blown war launched by Armenia against Azerbaijan in 1991. The four-year bloody war resulted in the killing of 30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis and the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory.

Despite four UN Security Council resolutions and repeated international calls for Armenia's withdrawal from the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Yerevan has continued to occupy Azerbaijani lands and maintained a military presence there, hence fueling one of the world's most dangerous and long-standing conflicts.

While Baku condemned the so-called "inauguration" in the Nagorno-Karabakh region as an act of provocation, spokesperson to the Foreign Ministry of Armenia Anna Naghdalyan portrayed the recent developments in the occupied Azerbaijani territories as "democratic processes" and pledged that Yerevan will continue cooperating with the illegal "authorities" that represent the so-called "people" of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry's Spokesperson Leyla Abdullayeva responded to her Armenian counterpart with fact-based remarks, saying Armenians living in Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region are part of a community.

"As regards the term “people”, to which the Armenian Foreign Ministry refers, firstly, the Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan are not the people, but the Armenian community living in this region," Abdullayeva said.

"Secondly, in order to talk about the principle of self-determination of peoples, the Armenian Foreign Ministry must first find out what this principle means, read the Helsinki Final Act, and only then refer to this principle," Abdullayeva added. "The fact that the aggressor country speaks about peace in its statements is the highest degree of hypocrisy. A country that wants peace will not pursue a policy of aggression, a country that seeks peace will not impede the negotiations process, and, finally, a supporter of peace will not be a serious threat to the peace itself."

Meanwhile, the European Union and the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who mediates political negotiations for solving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, have earlier denounced the so-called "presidential elections" in the occupied Azerbaijani lands.

"This event cannot prejudice the determination of the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh or the outcome of the ongoing negotiation process," read the EU statement issued in March.