Armenia wants to deceive international community and avoid responsibility, Mammadguliyev says
Armenia bears full responsibility for the war and use of force against Azerbaijan, by occupying its territory and carrying out mass ethnic cleansings, Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Mahmud Mammadguliyev stated yesterday at the 126th session of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers in Sofia. He reminded that on April 2, 2016, the armed forces of Armenia, targeting civilians densely residing in the territories adjacent to the frontline area, opened intensive heavy weapons fire at the positions of the armed forces of Azerbaijan along the line of contact.
As a result of Armenia's artillery attacks, a number of civilians, including children, were killed and seriously wounded. "The territories controlled by the armed forces of Azerbaijan along the line of contact are densely populated, on the contrary, there are no civilians on the other side of the line of contact controlled by the Armenian armed forces," he explained, expressing the opinion that the accusations by Armenia about the killing of civilians are groundless and have the only aim of deceiving the international community and avoiding responsibility.
He called upon the international community to condemn Armenia for blatant violation of international law and the ceasefire regime, to demand strict compliance by it with the April 5, 2016 ceasefire commitments and to engage constructively in the talks on the withdrawal of its armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan that would pave the way for the settlement of the remaining political issues.
The settlement of these problems was in the focus on Monday in Vienna of the first meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan – Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan – since the beginning of escalation of the situation in Karabakh. The talks were attended by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, James Warlick, Igor Popov and Pierre Andrieu. Baku interpreted the meeting as a continuation of the victory of the Azerbaijani army in the diplomatic sphere since the April clashes, the OSCE Minsk Group was convinced that this conflict is not frozen.
Meanwhile, as the ex-Defense Minister of Armenia Vagarshak Arutyunyan stated during a video conference titled 'Eurasian future of the South Caucasus' in Moscow, "in Vienna, they reached a good agreement on the need to establish a final ceasefire and introduce mechanisms for monitoring this regime and violations. When people from the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides will no longer die at the borders, it will create conditions for trust, on the basis of which it will be possible to start negotiations. There can be no negotiations if there is no peace on the contact line." According to Harutyunyan, on April 2nd, "the ceasefire regime signed in 1994, in which I was a participant, has been violated. At the time, the parties pledged to comply with the truce, the prerequisites were created, the Minsk Group operates, it should resolve this conflict. If we are a state that fulfills its international obligations, than we should not start it. Or we abandon the Minsk Group, stop the ceasefire and start a war. This is the question."
As the director of the Center for Political Conjuncture, political scientist Sergey Mikheyev stated, answering the questions of journalists during the same video conference, after the meeting in Vienna the parties will try to resume negotiations, but the only advantage of the situation lies in the fact that the intensity of military confrontation became lower: "We should be grateful to both sides for this, because no one needs war... The parties went to the meeting largely under pressure from Russia and the US as the leading players. But I did not see progress. Perhaps it remained on the sidelines, behind the scenes. But the fact is that the meeting is a step forward, compared to the April situation. But whether there will be another step after this is highly doubtful right now."
According to Mikheyev, in this situation Moscow is trying to put pressure on Baku and Yerevan, but there are limits to every pressure: "Over the past 25 years this pressure was applied in different periods. But we have seen the result – the April escalation of the situation. The question is whether we can bring the parties to something similar to the Madrid Principles, which were worked out for a long time there. So far, it seems extremely difficult to me." According to political scientist, in the course of the four-day war, nobody gained a tactical or strategic victory: "Someone can calculate the scores in domestic political motives, but if we talk about the stability of the region, then no one achieved victory, and this situation was also a problem for Russia."