Ukraine demonstrates the importance of producing a lasting solution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict
I perfectly understand sympathy with the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno Karabakh. However, our cultural and religious affinities should not hamper our ability to speak the truth.
Hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the 1990s occurred as a result of an Armenian large scale military invasion of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognised territories, including Nagorno Karabakh.
Allegations of a so-called Armenian genocide in 2020 fails to take into account the atrocious murdering of the civilian population in the town of Khojaly in February 1992. A well-documented pre-mediated massacre of civilians killing over 600 people, including elderly and children, represents the systematic Armenian policy of ethnic cleansing that it perpetrated in the occupied Azerbaijani territories.
We can draw comparison between the massacre of civilians in Khojaly and the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine
As a result of the Armenian military invasion, close to one million Azerbaijanis were forced to flee their homes and become internally displaced in their own country. We can draw comparison between the massacre of civilians in Khojaly and the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in the besieged port city of Mariupol in Ukraine.
As a country fully committed to the protection of territorial integrity and sovereignty, Azerbaijan has provided vital medical supplies worth over 10 million euros to the people of Ukraine, while also offering to host direct talks between Ukraine and Russia in Baku. This is in stark contrast to the policies of Armenia, Russia’s closest ally in South Caucasus, which continues to host two Russian military bases on its territories and acting effectively as the latter’s outpost in the region.
Since the conclusion of hostilities in 2020, Azerbaijan has extended its hand of friendship to Armenia in the hope to normalise relations and rebuild the region for the benefit of both Azerbaijanis and Armenians.
Most recently, Azerbaijan offered five principles to Armenia on which both sides can begin drafting a final peace deal. However, Armenia continues to drag its feet and on other proposals of normalisation. It has failed to provide accurate mining maps and other relevant data to Azerbaijan, causing dozens of civilian deaths and injuries as a result of unexploded devices since 2020. This failure represents a clear breach of international humanitarian law obligations. They have also been silent on the demands from Azerbaijan to share information on the whereabouts of 4,000 Azerbaijani people who have been missing since hostilities in 1990s.
In violation of the 2020 trilateral ceasefire agreement, Armenia continues to hamper efforts to unblock regional transportation routes, including the so-called Zangezur corridor.
I firmly support attempts to rebuild the region of South Caucasus, vital for UK interests – not least for its rich energy sources. The continuing Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the importance of producing lasting solutions to conflicts, including the one between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Armenia should accept the offer from Azerbaijan and engage in serious and substantial dialogue to achieve full normalisation on the basis of international principles, including recognition of territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of borders.
Here in the UK, we have to make our best efforts to contribute to this normalisation by encouraging both sides to engage positively and constructively.
Lord Kilclooney is a crossbench peer and vice-chair of the APPG for Azerbaijan.
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