While the international community is fighting the COVID-19, from the afternoon of 12 July Armenian armed forces had flagrantly breached the ceasefire agreement and used artillery mounts to strike on Azerbaijan’s armed forces’ positions on the direction of the Tovuz district, along the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border.
Armenia, as always, attempted to portray Azerbaijan as the instigator of this provocation claiming that two Azerbaijani servicemen tried to cross the Armenian border in a UAZ vehicle and commit military sabotage. However, this does not fit into any logic. It is clear fact that neither the Azerbaijani nor any other army in the world will plan an assault with only two military officers and soldiers in a UAZ vehicle which would be extremely unwise step. Put it differently, as has always been the scenario, the primary cause for Armenia to generate this ridiculous theory is to blame Azerbaijan.
Then the question arises: “Why Armenia purposefully trying to blame Azerbaijani side?” There are several internal and external reasons behind of it.
While Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan attempted to manipulate the nature of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan and show Armenia as the supporter of stability operating to avoid conflict,Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, Head of Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration, Hikmet Hajiyev underlined several important factors behind Armenia’s provocative actions: Armenia seeks to eliminate its responsibility for the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan; Armenia is interested in keeping tension in the region and creates obvious danger to the region; Armenia is seeking objectives such as harm to the East-West transport corridor and [other] regional transport initiatives since it has remained beyond these projects; distract the attention of Armenia’s population from domestic problems and failure of Pashinyan’s policy amid the widespread of the COVID-19.
Moreover, according to Polad Bulbuloghlu, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the Russian Federation, Armenia is seeking to include a regional military alliance, such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, initially Russia. Azerbaijan maintains close bilateral relations with member states of the CSTO, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus, emphasizing that “it is impossible that a soldier from Kyrgyz or Kazakh will target an Azerbaijani soldier. Except Armenia, all CSTO members are Azerbaijan’s friends”.
Furthermore, prior coming to power Pashinyan claimed that, during the tenure of Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan, Armenia had recession in every aspect of the country, especially in economic sector, because of unsuccessful policies of these former political leaders. Thus, prior to becoming head of state, he promised to develop economic situation of the country, to improve the living conditions of the citizens in a visible and tangible manner, and to fight against corruption. However, he disappointed his supporters as he could not live up the expectations. Currently, the situation of people is getting worse in Armenia. It was also expected that after the regime change in Armenia incoming government will take a more constructive approach to the unresolved settlement process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. However, Pashinyan has demonstrated more antagonist approach in this conflict.
While the negotiations between Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan were held in Geneva on 28-30 January, 2020, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan traveled to the invaded Azerbaijani territories. This step not only overshadowed the negotiation process, but it was also at odds with efforts which were made to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a whole. These Pashinyan’s actions are nothing more than an attempt to divert attention in a different direction through various maneuvers. Pashinyan has always resorted to this trick. His authority among the Armenian citizens is undermined, and he is trying to attract attention by any means, including populist statements and maneuvers. On the eve of the meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers in Bratislava in December 2019, Pashinyan used a similar method. This is evidenced by his visit to Nagorno Karabakh and a meeting with separatists, as well as by the statement of the press secretary of the “leader” of so-called “Nagorno Karabakh Republic” David Babayan about the impossibility of a meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities. The statement of “new territories, new war,” by Armenian defense minister David Tonoyan, caused another significant problem in bilateral discussions which were contrary to the spirit of the talks between the two countries.
What is more, on 21 May, 2020 Pashinyan traveled to Azerbaijani invaded city Shusha where illegitimate separatist regime held so-called “inauguration” for the self-proclaimed “president” and appealed for global recognition of the illegal separatist government in the invaded zone. This also negatively affected the ongoing negotiation process.
All these robust facts and Armenia’s latest aggression on the border are indicators that the official Yerevan is actually not interested in the mediated settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan dispute.
Even some political experts confirm that all these are provocations purposefully committed by Armenia. The aim is to distract the attention of Armenia’s population from domestic problems and failure of Pashinyan’s policy.
Another significant fact and external reason which reveals Armenia’s intransigent approach towards Azerbaijan is that while about 130 UN member states supported the initiative of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev to hold a special session of the General Assembly for joining efforts on a global scale against COVID-19, Armenia putting itself in an extremely unsightly position and isolating itself from the world voted against this initiative.
As a result of Armenia’s deliberate targeting and shooting on 14 July 2020, Azizov Aziz, born in 1944, a resident of the Aghdam village of Tovuz province, was killed. 12 Azerbaijani soldiers including major general and a colonel were martyred on the frontline during the battle. Earlier in Khojaly, on 26 February 1992, 613 civilians were brutally killed, including children, living along the border and near the contact line. Moreover, killing of 6 innocent people and the seriously injuring of 33 people were innocent victims of the Armenian hostility during the April 2016 War.
Besides continually shelling Azerbaijani settlements by using heavy artillery, the Armenian armed forces also cause significant damage to the population’s property and infrastructure and the economy. Through these acts Armenia breaches blatantly international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its obligations in this respect.
International actors; European Union, OSCE Minsk Group, Russian Federation, United Nations, USA called immediate ceasefire along Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Turkey, Pakistan and Ukraine made declarations supporting Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) which call for the complete and unquestioning withdrawal of the Armenian military forces from the invaded Azerbaijani territories.
Author: Shabnam Hasanova, Political Analyst, Ph.D. candidate in Political Science, Baku, Azerbaijan.