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Azerbaijani press: FM: Armenian premier’s accusations raise doubts on country’s desire for peace

The Armenian prime minister’s ungrounded accusations against Azerbaijan cast serious doubts on the country's desire for peace, Spokesperson for Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Leyla Abdullayeva said.

During his speech at the Clingendael Institute of International Relations in the Netherlands, Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of not taking humanitarian steps to return people of Armenian origin in detention in Azerbaijan.

Commenting on the issue, the spokesperson reminded that Azerbaijan has liberated its territories from occupation and that Armenia has purposefully planted mines in the occupied lands during nearly 30-year-long occupation, as well as after the signing of the tripartite statement.

Later, Abdullayeva noted that Armenia initially denied the existence of minefield maps in general, and only after facing international pressure, they presented minefield maps with only 25% accuracy.

The spokesperson added that it would be wrong to describe Armenia's submission of mine maps as a humanitarian gesture, as it was Armenia's obligation under international humanitarian law after the signing of the tripartite statement.

Abdullayeva stressed that since the signing of the statement, some 219 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by landmines. Furthermore, she added that 10 people were injured in nine mine blasts in April.

“Unfortunately, our citizens regularly fall victim to landmines, even after Armenia submitted minefield maps,” she added.

In the statement, the spokesperson added that Azerbaijan is currently rebuilding and restoring the liberated territories that had been destroyed by Armenia. For decades, the work has been done day and night to ensure the return of the IDPs to their homes, she added.

However, a huge mine problem in these areas poses a serious threat to the early return of IDPs. The only reason for this is Armenia’s 30-year-long aggressive policy and its destructive results.

The spokesperson stated that considering all these, the accusations of the Armenian prime minister are inappropriate and unfounded. She stressed that the Armenian leader should first recognize the reasoning behind the detention in Azerbaijan of Armenian saboteurs, who illegally entered the country.  

Moreover, Abdullayeva stated that humanitarian issues are an important part of the peace agenda, which is why, Azerbaijan is always guided by the principles of humanism in its activities, even during the 44-day war and after, it took unilateral humanitarian steps. However, she noted that Armenia must finally understand that for peace, it is necessary not only to talk but to act.

To recap, about 1,500 mines and unexploded ordnance were found and defused on Azerbaijan's liberated territories on April 1-30, the Mine Action Agency said.

ANAMA, along with the partner countries, carries out demining activities on the liberated territories. Moreover, the State Border Service and the Defense Ministry are also demining liberated lands.

Armenia submitted to Azerbaijan all mine maps of liberated territories as a result of talks held through the mediation of the Russian Defense Ministry on December 4, 2021.

On December 12, 2021, Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov told reporters that mine maps, provided by Armenia, are not so far fully accurate.

In an address to the 6th Eastern Partnership Summit of the European Union in Brussels on December 15, 2021, President Ilham Aliyev said that about 200 people had been killed or injured in mine explosions to that date. In this regard, he stressed the importance of the EU and member states providing technical and financial assistance to Azerbaijan to eliminate the mine problem.

Armenia deliberately and constantly planted mines on Azerbaijani territories, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, thereby being a major threat to regional peace, security, and cooperation.

On June 12, 2021, Azerbaijan handed over 15 Armenian prisoners in exchange for a map detailing the location of 97,000 mines in Aghdam.

On July 3, 2021, Armenia submitted to Azerbaijan maps of about 92,000 anti-tank and anti-personnel mines planted during the occupation of Fuzuli and Zangilan regions.

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered peace agreement on November 10, 2020, to end 44 days of fighting and work toward a comprehensive peace deal.