Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has accused Armenian authorities of refusing to address the issues specified in the declaration, which was signed by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia to end the 2020 second Karabakh war between the two country.
The President placed particular emphasis on Article 4, which states that the Armenian armed formations must withdraw from the Azerbaijani region of Karabakh.
“This problem is not solved to date. We have raised this issue many times, but Armenia continues to delay it. At the same time, we have raised this issue with the Russian military leadership, and a senior Russian Defense Ministry official, during a visit to Azerbaijan a few months ago, promised our Defense Ministry that the Armenian armed forces would withdraw from Karabakh by June,” President Aliyev was quoted as saying by his Press service.
He added that although it is mid-July, the issue has not yet been resolved. According to him, the Russian peacekeeping contingent temporarily stationed in parts of the Karabakh region also did not force Armenia to withdraw its troops from the territories of Azerbaijan.
“Of course, this is an intolerable situation because it is completely unacceptable that the Armenian armed forces remain on the territory of Azerbaijan. […] If Armenia does not intend to withdraw its armed forces from Azerbaijani territory, it should let us know in clear terms and we will consider our next actions. What will our response be? It would probably be inappropriate to say it now, but this is a flagrant violation of the November 10 Declaration,” President Aliyev said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan had been locked in one of the world’s most protracted conflicts for nearly three decades. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia launched a full-scale military campaign against Azerbaijan, marking the longest and deadliest war in the South Caucasus region. The bloody war lasted until a ceasefire in 1994 and saw Armenia occupy 20% of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories. More than 30,000 Azerbaijanis have been killed and a million have been expelled from these lands as part of a brutal policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Armenia.
On September 27, 2020, the decades-old conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated after Armenian forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements in Azerbaijan. During counterattack operations that lasted 44 days, Azerbaijani forces liberated more than 300 settlements, including the towns of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli and Shusha, from almost 30 years of illegal Armenian occupation. The war ended with a tripartite declaration signed on November 10, 2020 by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. According to the statement, Armenia also returned the occupied districts of Aghdam, Kalbajar and Lachin to Azerbaijan.
According to Article 4 of the Tripartite Agreement, the withdrawal of the Armenian army from Azerbaijani lands should have taken place simultaneously with the deployment of the temporary Russian peacekeeping mission. However, no steps were taken to pull the Armenian Armed Forces out of Azerbaijani territories guarded by Russian peacekeepers.
Peace in the region also remains fragile due to provocations by illegal Armenian armed groups. Since the announcement of the ceasefire on November 10, 2020, Armenian armed groups have resorted to numerous armed provocations against Azerbaijani military posts.
Just days after the ceasefire came into effect, Armenian detachments hiding in the forests around Azerbaijan’s Khojavand district carried out two deadly attacks, killing four Azerbaijani servicemen and one civilian.
In November 2021, a group of people led by an ethnic Armenian, Norayr Mirzoyan, threw an RGD-5 anti-personnel fragmentation grenade at servicemen of the Azerbaijani armed forces and Russian peacekeepers stationed in the area near the Dashalti village of the city of Shusha. Following the incident motivated by “ethnic hatred”, three Azerbaijani soldiers were injured to varying degrees. Mirzoyan was captured by Russian peacekeepers on the spot and was reportedly released without being prosecuted.