Foreign Ministry Says Azeris Want to Resume War

YEREVAN (Armenpress–Noyan Tapan) Armenia’s Foreign Ministry issued two statemen’s–Friday and Monday respectively–calling attention to recent announcement by Azerbaijan which direcly indicate Azerbaijan’s intention of commencing military offensives against Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Firday statement accused Azerbaijan of violating the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe–noting that Azerbaijan’s armed forces build-up exceeded the limits provided by the Treaty.

The most recent statement by the Foreign Ministry focused on a Feb. 22 announcement blaming Armenia for 1992 events in Khodjaly–despite later Azeri assertions that the Azerbaijan National Front caused the mass destruction during military attacks in that area.

Below are translated texts of those two statemen’s:

Khodjaly Statement

Azerbaijan’s recent statement–dated February 22–1997–regarding what they term as the "Khodjaly events," was the most viscous statement thus far made by Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan refers shamelessly to a 1992 military incident–which–according to then-Azeri president [Ayaz] Mutlibov–the Azeri opposition party the Azerbaijan National Front should be entirely blamed for the slaughter of the civilian population of the [then] mostly-Azeri-populated city of Khodjaly near the capital Stepanakert.

In the days following the events–President Mutalibov–in an interview with Czech journalist Dana Mazalova published in the April 2–1992 issue of the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta–said that the militia of the Azeri National Front actively obstructed and actually prevented the local population from fleeing through the mountain passage specifically left open by Karabakh Armenia’s to facilitate the flight of the civilian population.

(In September 1992–a Helsinki Watch report quoted an Azeri woman as saying that Armenia’s had notified the Azeri civilian population to leave the town with white flags raised.) In fact–it was the Azeri militia that shot those who attempted to flee.

The intention of the Azeri opposition was to utilize civilian loss of such a magnitude to instigate a popular uprising against the Baku regime and seize power.

Azerbaijan does not stop at simply distorting the truth. Not only does it falsely attribute its own opposition’s merciless slaughter of Khodjaly civilians to Armenia’s–it brazenly characterizes the killings as "distinctively inhumane and cruel," and calls them a "massacre." In so doing Azerbaijan fully comprehends that for the Armenian people these issues unfailingly evoke memories of massacre and genocide in Armenia’s’ both distant and recent pasts.

It is not coincidental that Azerbaijan has dared to make such a statement on the anniversary of one of the most bloody events in Armenia’s recent history. On February 28–1988–when the people of Nagorno Karabakh were arguing by peaceful and legal means for their right to self-determination–Azeri authorities organized and armed a mob–which began pogroms against Armenia’s in the Azeri city of Sumgait. The Sumgait massacres were followed by killings and pillages in Gyadnzha in November 1988–and Baku in January 1990.

In Spring of 1991–the very leaders of the current Azeri regime–assisted by Soviet Army officers–organized the depopulation of the Armenian region of Northern Nagorno-Karabakh–as well as the deportation of the Armenian population in Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding 24 regions. Helsinki Watch in its aforementioned report–stressed that "these events were intended to exacerbate the fear and horror of ethnic Armenia’s in other parts of Azerbaijan," and lead to the deportation and ethnic cleansing of more than 600,000 Armenia’s.

These atrocities were followed by a cycle of large-scale Azeri military offensives and other operations aimed a military resolution to the conflict through the complete annihilation of the population of Nagorno Karabakh.

Although such acts have all taken place in the last decade of the 20th century–the people of Nagorno Karabakh experienced a similar fate during the first two decades of this century as well. The massacres and pogroms of 1905 in Baku–as well as the 1918 and 1920 massacres in Shoushi–during which the entire city was burned and its population annihilated–are still vividly embedded in the people’s memories.

Therefore–the recent Azeri statement can only be seen as a crude and gross violation of international norms and principles.

While fostering an aggressive and exclusive nationalist policy–Azerbaijan blatantly promotes and incites ethnic hatred toward the population of Nagorno Karabakh–with whom it continuously claims it can peacefully and harmoniously live. Further–Azerbaijan proclaims it can guarantee Karabakh’s security and peaceful existence–even while it advances distrust and enmity by falsely accusing Armenia’s and callously misrepresenting its own role and responsibility in these events.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia once again reiterates the warning sounded by Levon Ter-Petrosyan during the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] Lisbon Summit–that if Azerbaijan imposes its rule on Nagorno Karabakh–the Karabakh population would face the threat of genocide.

Arm Sales Statement

"For the past several weeks Azerbaijan has been circulating statemen’s on the alleged illegal supply of arms to Armenia. In those statemen’s Azerbaijan has based its argumen’s on unofficial information and remarks made by Russian minister A. Tuliyev whose statemen’s were not confirmed and registered by any of the sides involved in the alleged deal. As stated earlier–the Russian State Duma has begun an investigation into the matter.

Taking this into consideration–the Foreign Minister of Armenia expresses its deep regret that Azerbaijan has not been able to resist the temptation of utilizing speculation in pursuit of its own political gains. The Foreign Ministry of Armenia is concerned with Azerbaijan’s behavior and is inclined to consider this recent approach as Azerbaijan’s intention to deviate from peaceful negotiations and begin a new military offensive.

The Foreign Ministry of Armenia reports that since the cease-fire was established in Karabakh–Azerbaijan has been consistently violating the spirit of that cease-fire agreement–United Nations Security Council resolutions and decisions by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

For example–in the period between 1993 and 1995 Azerbaijan purchased 150 heavy tanks and 10 war planes from Ukraine–officially informing the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe member states regarding this purchase. (notes NN 174/3.11.93–1155/12.12.93–182/26.4.94 and 225/26.4.94).

According to our data–for the past several years Azerbaijan has purchased 12 "MIG-21," four "SU-15" and two "SU-25" planes–as well as 100 heavy "T-55" tanks–yet it has not informed proper international bodies about those purchases. A large supply of spare parts for "T-62" tanks was delivered to Azerbaijan by a special flight. At the end of 1995–through mediation by the "KOFISA" firm– Azerbaijan purchased GAN KAB-500 semi-active aerial-bombs with laser control–as well as X-25 ML and X-29 L anti-radio-locational air-ground rockets. In 1996 2,600 BM-21 rockets were also delivered to Azerbaijan.

According to our data–there is an agreement under which Azerbaijan is going to receive 8 "SU-24" planes and 18 plane engines–as well as rockets for the "Uragan" systems. A large number of foreign specialists are involved in Azerbaijan’s No.102 tank-producing plant and No.307 helicopter engines plant. Plans are also underway for the j
oint production of "ground to ground" rockets–jet engines–as well as OT-5600 and TIP-9600 magnetic field radio receivers.

Within Azerbaijan’s power ministries there operates a special service which through cooperation with its partners in the intelligence sector establishes joint structures which operate against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

Azerbaijan has also seriously violated provisions of the Treaty on Conventional Arms in Europe. Pursuant to Azerbaijan’s Package on annual exchange of military information for 1997– Azerbaijan considerably surpassed the maximum national limit in three categories on conventional arms (heavy tanks– combat carriers and artillery)–registering 285 heavy tanks instead of 220–785 combat carriers instead of 220 and 336 artillery units instead of 285.

The build-up of Azeri military forces in Nakhichevan is also deemed as a destabilizing move by Azerbaijan. Of the country’s 785 combat carriers 428 are located in Nakhichevan as are 107 security troops stationed in the enclave–whereas provisions for maximum quantitative level for Azerbaijan is set at 220.

Destabilizing troop build up has also been noted in Gyandzha and Kurdamir–in the Nagorno-Karabakh border regions.

The reality that a state which has committed such severe violations–takes advantage of Minister Tuliyev’s statemen’s and utilizes unsubstantiated information–causes great concern.

The Foreign Ministry of Armenia believes through its actions–Azerbaijan has begun a preliminary campaign aimed at future justification of its intentions for a military solution to the Karabakh conflict.

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