Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan

Table of Contents


1.1. Basic facts
1.2. The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijan SSR
1.3. The beginning of the contemporary phase of the conflict
1.4. Armenian terrorism





6. ATTACHMENT: Principal documents adopted within the conflict settlement process


Aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan

1. Historical and political background

1.1. Basic facts

The Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan is part of the geographical area called Garabagh (Qarabağ). The name of this part of the country consists of two Azerbaijani words: “qara” (black) and “bağ” (garden). This area covers the lands from the Araz River in the south to the Kur River in the north, and from junction of the Kur and Araz Rivers in the east to the eastern ranges of the Lesser Caucasus in the west.

From ancient times up to the occupation by Russians in the early 19th century, this region was part of different Azerbaijani States. On 14 May 1805, the Treaty of Kurakchay between Ibrahim Khan, Khan of Karabakh, and Tsitsianov, representative of the Russian Emperor, was signed. According to this treaty, the Karabakh khanate came under the Russian rule.

The occupation of the Northern Azerbaijani territories – excluding Nakhchyvan and Iravan khanates – was affirmed in the Gulustan peace treaty, signed between Russia and Iran on 12 October 1813. According to the Turkmanchay peace treaty signed on 10 February 1828, Nakhchyvan and Iravan khanates were occupied by Russia.

After the signing of the Gulustan and Turkmanchay treaties a very rapid mass resettlement of the Armenians in the Azerbaijani lands and the subsequent artificial territorial division took place. The First World War also contributed to the increase in the number of Armenians in the South Caucasus. From 1828 to 1911 alone, more than 1,000,000 Armenians were resettled by Russia from Iran and Turkey in the region, including the Azerbaijani territories, and 350,000 Armenians appeared there in 1914-1916.

Within the Russian Empire, the territory once belonging to Azerbaijan was split under a number of laws among different administrative divisions. According to the most final administrative divisions, Azerbaijan was split among the Baku, Elizavetpol and Iravan provinces, and Zagatala okrug. The Elizavetpol province included, inter alia, the area presently under the Armenian military occupation.

Between 1905 and 1907 the Armenians carried out a series of large-scale bloody actions against the Azerbaijanis. The atrocities began in Baku and then extended over the whole of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijani villages in the territory of present-day Armenia. Hundreds of settlements were destroyed and wiped from the face of the earth, and thousands of civilians were barbarically killed.

Taking advantage of the situation following the First World War and the February and October 1917 revolutions in Russia, the Armenians began to pursue the implementation of their plans under the banner of Bolshevism. Thus, under the watchword of combating counter-revolutionary elements, in March 1918 the Baku commune began to implement a plan aimed at eliminating the Azerbaijanis from the whole of the Baku province. Apart from Baku, solely because of their ethnic affiliation, the thousands of Azerbaijanis were annihilated also in the Shirvan, Karabakh, Zangazur, Nakhchyvan, Lankaran and other regions of Azerbaijan. In these areas, the civilian population was exterminated en masse, villages were burned and national cultural monuments were destroyed and obliterated.

On 28 May 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) was proclaimed. On the same date, the Republic of Armenia was established. Article 1 of the Declaration of Independence of the ADR provided that “Starting from this day the people of Azerbaijan will have their sovereign rights. Azerbaijan that consists of Eastern and Southern Transcaucasia shall be legal independent State”.
On April 1919, Allied Powers recognized temporary Karabakh General-Governship, which was established by ADR on January 1919 and consisted of Shusha, Javanshir, Jabrayil and Zangazur uezds (uezd – administrative-territorial unit of the Russian Empire, which was applied in the ADR and Azerbaijan SSR until the late 1920s) with the center in Shusha town, to be under Azerbaijani jurisdiction and Khosrov bay Sultanov as its governor. In 1919, the Armenian National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh recognized officially the authority of Azerbaijan.

On 28 April 1920, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan (hereinafter – Azerbaijan SSR) was established. The facts illustrate that over the 70-years of the Soviet rule the Armenians succeeded in expanding their territory at the expense of Azerbaijan and expelling the Azerbaijanis from their historical lands. During this period, the aforementioned policy was implemented systematically and methodically. As a result, the territory of Azerbaijan, which in 1918-1920 constituted 114.000, was reduced to 86.600 during the Soviet rule.

On 30 November 1920, the western part of the Zangazur uezd was included in Armenia. As a result, the Nakhchyvan region was cut off from the main body of Azerbaijan and became an exclave.

On 13 October 1921, the Treaty of Friendship between the Armenian SSR, Azerbaijan SSR and Georgian SSR, on the one hand, and Turkey, on the other, was concluded in Kars with the participation of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. In Article 5 of the Treaty the Governments of Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan expressed their consent that “the Nakhchyvan oblast […] forms an autonomous territory under the protection of Azerbaijan”.

From 12 March 1922 to 5 December 1936 Azerbaijan was a part of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republics (hereinafter – TSFSR). Until the admission of Azerbaijan into the TSFSR, Basarkechar region of New-Bayazid uezd of the Russian Empire borders and 2/3 of Sharur-Daralayaz uezd were already included in Armenia. After the admission of Azerbaijan into the TSFSR a considerable portion of Gazakh uezd, a number of villages from Jabrayil uezd and the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of Nakhchyvan (hereinafter – Nakhchyvan ASSR) were included in Armenia.

On the pretext of resettling the Armenians coming from abroad, the Council of Ministers of the USSR adopted on 23 December 1947 and 10 March 1948 special decisions on the resettlement of collective farm workers and the other Azerbaijani population from the Armenian SSR to the Kur-Araz lowlands in the Azerbaijan SSR. Under these decisions, during the period between 1948 and 1953 more than 100,000 Azerbaijanis were forcibly resettled from their historical homelands – the mountainous regions of Armenia – to the then waterless steppes of Mughan and the Mil plateau.
Shortly after the assertion of claims on Nagorny Karabakh at the end of 1980s, the remaining more than 200,000 Azerbaijanis were forcibly deported from Armenia.

1.2. The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Azerbaijan SSR.

As far as Nagorno-Karabakh is concerned, in response to territorial claims of the Armenian SSR regarding this part of Azerbaijan, on 5 July 1921, the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist (bolshevik) Party decided that:

Taking into consideration the necessity of national peace between the Muslims and the Armenians, the importance of the economic relations between Upper and Lower Karabakh and the permanent relations of Upper Karabakh with Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh shall be retained within the boundaries of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan and broad autonomy shall be given to Nagorno-Karabakh with Shusha city as an administrative center.”

On 7 July 1923, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) was established in the mountainous part of Karabakh, where majority of population was Armenian. The town of Khankandi was defined as the administrative centre of the autonomy. In September 1923, the name of the town was changed to Stepanakert after Stepan Shaumian, dashnak, and “bolshevik” leader.

The borders of the NKAO were defined in that way to ensure the majority to the Armenian population. According to the population census of 12 January 1989, the population of the autonomous oblast was around 189,000 persons; of them: around 139,000 Armenians – 73,5 %, around 48,000 Azerbaijanis – 25,3 %, around 2 000 representatives of other nationalities – 1,2 %. At the same time, about 200,000 Azerbaijanis compactly resided in Armenia at that time were refused even cultural autonomy both on the part of the USSR central government, and the government of the Armenian SSR.

The allegations of discrimination against the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh do not stand up to scrutiny. In reality, the NKAO possessed all essential elements of self-government.

The status of Nagorno-Karabakh as an autonomous oblast within the Azerbaijan SSR was stipulated in the Constitutions of the USSR of 1936 and 1977. In accordance with the Constitutions of the USSR and the Azerbaijan SSR, the legal status of the NKAO was governed by the Law “On the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast”, which was adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR on 16 June 1981 following its submission by the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the NKAO. As a national territorial unit, the NKAO enjoyed a form of administrative autonomy, and, accordingly, had a number of rights, which, in practice, ensured that its population’s specific needs were met. Under the Constitution of the former USSR, the NKAO was represented by five deputies in the Council of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. It was represented by 12 deputies in the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR.

The Soviet of People’s Deputies of the NKAO — the government authority in the region — had a wide range of powers. It decided all local issues based on the interests of citizens living in the oblast and with reference to its national and other specific features. Armenian was used in the work of all government, administrative and judicial bodies and the Procurator’s Office, as well as in education, reflecting the language requirements of the majority of the region’s population. Local TV and radio broadcasts, publication of newspapers and magazines in the Armenian language were guaranteed in the NKAO.

In the period 1971 to 1985, 483 million rubles of capital investment were channeled into the development of the NKAO, 2.8 times more than in the previous 15-year period. Over the preceding 20 years, the volume of per capita capital investment had increased nearly fourfold (226 rubles in 1981-1985 against 59 rubles in 1961-1965). Over the preceding 15 years, per capita housing construction had amounted to 3.64 square meters in Azerbaijan as a whole, whereas for the NKAO the figure was 4.76 square meters. The number of hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants was 15 per cent higher than in the rest of the republic.

The NKAO ranked relatively high among the republic’s regions in terms of the number of pre-school places available. Thus, in the period 1971 to 1985 the increase in the number of places in children’s institutions per 10,000 inhabitants in the oblast was 1.4 times of the average for the republic. The same is true of the increase in the number of places per 10,000 inhabitants in schools providing general education, the NKAO being ahead by a factor of 1.6.

The fact that provision of housing, goods and services was superior to that in the republic as a whole was typical of the social and cultural development of the oblast. Per capita living space in apartment buildings in the region was almost one third greater than the average for the republic, while rural dwellers had 1.5 times more living space than peasants in the republic as a whole.
The population of the oblast had access to greater numbers of medium-level medical personnel (1.3 times more) and hospital beds (3 per cent more). There was a more extensive network of institutions providing cultural and information services (more than three times the number of cinemas and clubs and twice as many libraries), and there were 1.6 times more books and magazines per 100 readers.

In fact, the NKAO was developing more rapidly than Azerbaijan as a whole. For example, whereas industrial output in the republic increased threefold between 1970 and 1986, in the NKAO it grew by a factor of 3.3 (the rate of growth there was 8,3 per cent higher). In 1986, 3.1 times more fixed capital assets were brought into use in the oblast than in 1970; in the republic the figure was 2.5. As far as basic social development indicators were concerned, the NKAO exceeded the average republic-wide standard of living indicators in the Azerbaijan SSR. There was significant progress in the development of cultural establishments, both in the oblast and throughout the republic.

In the 1988/89 school year, there were 136 secondary general education schools in Nagorno-Karabakh using Armenian as the language of instruction (16,120 pupils) and 13 international schools (7,045 pupils). In Azerbaijan as a whole during that school year, there were 181 Armenian schools (20,712 pupils) and 29 international schools (12,766 pupils). The State Pedagogical Institute in Khankandi had more than 2,130 students, mostly Armenian, studying in its Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian divisions. In addition, Nagorno-Karabakh had dozens of specialized secondary schools and vocational training institutes offering instruction in Armenian and Russian.

Five independent periodicals appeared in the Armenian language. Unlike other administrative territorial units of Azerbaijan located far from the capital of the republic in mountainous areas, the NKAO was equipped with technical infrastructure for receiving television and radio programmes.

As has been seen above, and as the existence and development of the NKAO within Azerbaijan confirms, the form of autonomy that had evolved fully reflected the specific economic, social, cultural and national characteristics of the population and the way of life in the autonomous region.

1.3. The beginning of the contemporary phase of the conflict

The present-day stage of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict began at the end of 1987 with the attacks on the Azerbaijanis in Khankandi (during the Soviet period – Stepanakert) and Armenia resulted in a flood of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons.

On 20 February 1988, the representatives of the Armenian community at the session of the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the NKAO adopted a decision to petition to the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR for the transfer of the NKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenian SSR.

On 22 February 1988, near the settlement of Asgaran on the Khankandi-Aghdam highway, the Armenians opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by the Azerbaijanis protesting against the above-mentioned decision of the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the NKAO. Two Azerbaijani youths lost their lives in consequence, becoming the first victims of the conflict.

On 26-28 February 1988, twenty-six Armenians and Azerbaijanis were killed as a result of the disturbances in Sumgait. It is notable that one of the leading figures in these events was a certain Edward Grigorian, an Armenian and native of Sumgait, who was directly involved in the killings and violence against the Armenians and the pogroms in the Armenian neighborhoods. By decision of the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of the Azerbaijan SSR dated 22 December 1989, Grigorian was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. The Court found Grigorian to be one of the organizers of unrest and massacres. Depositions by witnesses and victims show that he had a list of flats inhabited by the Armenians and, together with three other Armenians, called for reprisals against the Armenians, in which he took part personally. His victims (all Armenians) identified Grigorian as one of the organizers and active figures in the violence. In fact, events in Sumgait, being necessary to the Armenian leadership as a mean of launching an extensive anti-Azerbaijani campaign and justifying the ensuing aggressive actions against Azerbaijan, had been planned and prepared in advance.

During 1988-1989 the Azerbaijanis were forced to leave Armenia. In the course of mass deportation, at least 216 Azerbaijanis were killed and 1,154 people were wounded. The refugees from Armenia — eventually numbering approximately 200,000 people — began to arrive in Azerbaijan.

On 23 September 1989, The Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR adopted the Constitutional Law “On Sovereignty of the Azerbaijan SSR,” 5th provision of which provided, inter alia, “that sovereignty of the Azerbaijan SSR shall cover the whole its territory, including Azerbaijan’s integral parts – Nakhchyvan ASSR and NKAO”, and that “the borders of the Azerbaijan SSR with other Union Republics might be altered only by mutual agreement of republics concerned.”

On 1 December 1989, the Supreme Soviet of the Armenia SSR adopted a resolution on the re-unification of the Armenian SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh.

On 10 January 1990, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted the Resolution “On incompatibility of the acts of the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR concerning Nagorno-Karabakh with the Constitution of the USSR”, where was stated the unlawfulness of the unification of the Armenian SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh without the consent of the Azerbaijan SSR.

On 20 January 1990, with the approval of the Soviet leadership under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet army units were dispatched to Baku. Their reprisals, which were conducted with uncommon savagery, left hundreds of innocent Azerbaijani citizens dead and wounded.

In 1991, the central law-enforcement agencies of the then USSR apprehended dozens of the Armenian armed groups that operated outside Nagorno-Karabakh. Thus, the Chaykand village of the Khanlar district of Azerbaijan was turned by the Armenian armed groups into a criminal hub from which they bombed and shelled surrounding villages and roads, terrorizing the local Azerbaijani population. From 1989 to 1991, in Chaykand and adjacent areas only 54 people fell victim to the Armenian armed groups. In 1992, Azerbaijan regained its control over the Goranboy district.

On 30 August 1991, the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan, having regard to the Constitutional Law of 23 September 1989, declared the restoration of state independence established in 1918 by the ADR.

On 2 September 1991, the joint session of the Nagorno-Karabakh regional and Shaumian district Soviet of People’s Deputies declared the establishment of “the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” within the borders of the NKAO and Shaumian district of Azerbaijan.

The Constitutional Act “On State Independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, adopted on 18 October 1991, established the political and economical foundations of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

On 26 November 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Azerbaijan adopted a Law “On the Abolition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.

At the end of 1991 and the beginning of 1992 the conflict turned into a military phase. Taking advantage of the political instability as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and internal squabbles in Azerbaijan, Armenia initiated with the external military assistance combat operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In February 1992, an unprecedented massacre was committed against the Azerbaijani population in the town of Khojaly. This bloody tragedy, which became known as the Khojaly genocide, involved the extermination or capture of the thousands of Azerbaijanis; the town was razed to the ground. Over the night from 25 to 26 February 1992 the Armenian armed forces with the help of the infantry guards regiment № 366 of the former USSR implemented the seizure of Khojaly. The inhabitants of Khojaly remained in the town before the tragic night (about 2,500 people) tried to leave their houses after the beginning of the assault in the hope to find the way to the nearest place populated by the Azerbaijanis. But these plans have failed. Invaders destroyed Khojaly and with particular brutality implemented carnage over its peaceful population.

Brutal annihilation of hundreds of blameless inhabitants of Khojaly was one of the most heinous crimes during the armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The Armenian armed forces and foreign military units spared virtually none of those who had been unable to flee Khojaly and the surrounding area. As a result, 613 persons were killed, including 106 women, 63 children and 70 elderly people. 1,275 inhabitants were taken hostage, while the fate of 150 persons remains unknown to this day. In the course of the tragedy 487 inhabitants of Khojaly were severely maimed, including 76 children not yet of age. 6 families were completely wiped out, 26 children lost both parents, and 130 children one of their parents. Of those who perished, 56 persons were killed with especial cruelty: by burning alive, scalping, beheading, gouging out of eyes, and bayoneting of pregnant women in the abdomen.

Armenian officials deny their responsibility for the crimes committed during the conflict, including against the population of Khojaly, airily falsifying facts and sharing own interpretations of them, which deviate not only from reality but also from elementary logic. Nevertheless, even the subtlest propaganda will never manage to disprove the facts that speak of a situation diametrically opposite to that represented by the Armenian side.

Apart from the considerable information in possession of the law-enforcement agencies of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the responsibility of Armenia is documented also by numerous independent sources and eyewitnesses of this tragedy as well as is acknowledged by the direct perpetrators of the massacre.

Thus, for example, Markar Melkonian, brother of the well-known international terrorist Monte Melkonian, while considering what has happened in Khojaly simply as a consequence of “discipline problems” and “insubordination” among Armenian military units, testified the following:

At about 11:00 p.m. the night before, some 2,000 Armenian fighters had advanced through the high grass on three sides of Khojalu, forcing the residents out through the open side to the east. By the morning of February 26, the refugees had made it to the eastern cusp of Mountainous Karabagh and had begun working their way downhill, toward safety in the Azeri city of Agdam, about six miles away. There, in the hillocks and within sight of safety, Mountainous Karabagh soldiers had chased them down. “They just shot and shot,” a refugee woman, Raisa Aslanova, testified to a human Rights Watch investigator. The Arabo fighters had then unsheathed the knives they had carried on their hips for so long, and began stabbing.

Now, the only sound was the wind whistling through dry grass, a wind that was too early yet to blow away the stench of corpses.

Monte crunched over the grass where women and girls lay scattered like broken dolls. “No discipline”, he muttered. He knew the significance of the day’s date: it was the run-up to the fourth anniversary of the anti-Armenian pogrom in the city of Sumgait. Khojalu had been a strategic goal, but it had also been an act of revenge.

In his book “Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through peace and war”, the British journalist Thomas de Waal makes references to words of the Armenian militaries. Thus, “[a]n Armenian police officer, Major Valery Babayan, suggested revenge as a motive. He told the American reporter Paul Quinn-Judge that many of the fighters who had taken part in the Khojaly attack “originally came from Sumgait and places like that”.

But the most important was that the recently elected President of Armenia Serzh Sarkisian said of what had had happened:

Before Khojali, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us, they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that [stereotype]. And that’s what happened. And we should also take into account that amongst those boys were people who had fled from Baku and Sumgait.

As Thomas de Waal sums up, “Sarkisian’s account throws a different light on the worst massacre of the Karabakh war, suggesting that the killings may, at least in part, have been a deliberate act o mass killing as intimidation”.

The facts mentioned above confirm that the intentional slaughter of the Khojaly town civilians on 25-26 February 1992, including children, elderly and women, was directed to their mass extermination only because they were Azerbaijanis. The Khojaly town was chosen as a stage for further occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijani territories, striking terror into the hearts of people and creating panic and fear before the horrifying massacre.

In May 1992, Shusha, the Azerbaijani-populated administrative centre of the region within Nagorno-Karabakh, and Lachyn, the region situated between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, were occupied. In 1993, the armed forces of Armenia captured another six regions of Azerbaijan around Nagorno-Karabakh: Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadly and Zangilan.

Contrary to the numerous statements of the official Yerevan that Armenia is not directly involved into the conflict with Azerbaijan, there are indisputable proofs, which testify against such allegations and argue for the direct military aggression of the Republic of Armenia against a sovereign state.

There are ample evidences proving participation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia in the hostile actions against Azerbaijan. Since, the scope of this report prevents from providing complete list of available evidences, below are just a few well-documented facts of direct military actions of Armenia.

Thus, in January 1994 the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan defeated the sub-divisions of the separate motor-rifle regiment №. 555 (Army unit No. 59016) of the Republic of Armenia in the combat and captured several Armenian soldiers. According to the documents seized in the wake of the combat operation, one of the units of this regiment made a dash in April 1993 from the town of Vardenis in the Republic of Armenia to the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan with the purpose of backing-up the group of Armenia’s occupation forces in this part of Azerbaijan.

Among the trophy captured during the combat operations in the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan there were combat maps with battle-orders addressed to the commander of the separate motor-rifle regiment № 555 and to the head of the operational group, signed by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, lieutenant-general G.Andresian, as well as working combat maps of the officers of the 3rd motor-rifle battalion of the 3rd separate motor-rifle brigade of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia. These maps are marked on with hand-written decision to launch an assault and seize the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan on 1 April 1993.

The Azerbaijani troops seized also many personal documents of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia drafted into the military and sent to Azerbaijan to participate in the combat operations. Among them are national passports, military ID’s issued by the different drafting bodies of the Republic of Armenia (“military commissariats”), call-up papers for joining military service and participation in the military musters issued by drafting bodies of the different districts of the Republic of Armenia, official ID’s of the employees of the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia, special contracts for the service in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia, travel warrants, petitions for conferring military ranks, drafting warrants, leave warrants and vocation passes.

In 1992-1994, Armenian Armed Forces occupied administrative districts of the Republic of Azerbaijan as follows:

May, 1992 – the Shusha district;
May, 1992 – the Lachyn district situated between the former NKAO and the Republic of Armenia;
April, 1993 – the Kalbajar district (between the former NKAO and Armenia, to the north of Lachyn);
July, 1993 – the Aghdam district;
August, 1993 – the Fuzuli district;
August, 1993 – the Jabrayil district;
August, 1993 – the Gubadly district;
October, 1993 – the Zangilan district.

On 30 April 1993, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution № 822, demanding immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kalbajar and other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan.

On 29 July 1993, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution № 853, which demanded “the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces involved from the district of Aghdam and other recently occupied districts of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.

On 14 October 1993, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution № 874, which called for “immediate implementation of the reciprocal and urgent steps provided for in the CSCE Minsk Group’s Adjusted timetable, including the withdrawal of forces from recently occupied territories”.

On 11 November 1993, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution № 884, which condemned the occupation of Zangilan district and the Horadiz town, attacks on civilians and bombardments of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and demanded the unilateral withdrawal of occupying forces from the Zangilan district and Horadiz, and the withdrawal of occupying forces from other recently occupied areas of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

In sum, the ongoing armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan has resulted in the occupation of almost one-fifth of the territory of Azerbaijan and made approximately one out of every eight persons in the country an internally displaced person or refugee, 20,000 people were killed, 50,000 people were wounded or became invalids, about 5,000 citizens of Azerbaijan are still missing.

The aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan has severely damaged the socio-economic sphere of the country. In the occupied territories 871 settlements, including 11 towns, 848 villages, hundreds of hospitals and medical facilities have been burned or otherwise destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of houses and apartments, thousands of social and medical buildings have been destroyed or looted. Hundreds of libraries have been plundered, a great deal of valuable manuscripts have been burned or otherwise destroyed. Several State theatres, hundreds of clubs and dozens of musical schools have been destroyed. Several thousands of manufacturing, agricultural and other kinds of factories and plants have been pillaged. Hundreds kilometers-long irrigation system have been totally destroyed. Flock of several hundreds of thousands of sheep and dozens of thousands of cattle have been driven out of the occupied territories to Armenia. About 70% of summer pastures of Azerbaijan remain in the occupied zone. The regional infrastructure, including hundreds of bridges, hundreds of kilometers of roads and thousands kilometers of water pipelines, thousands kilometers of gas pipelines and dozens of gas distribution stations, have been destroyed.

The war against Azerbaijan has also had catastrophic consequences for its cultural heritage both in the occupied territories and in Armenia.

According to the preliminary data, the overall damage inflicted on the Republic of Azerbaijan as a result of Armenian aggression is estimated to be tens of billions USD.

On 12 May 1994, the ceasefire was established. However, Armenia continues to violate the truce. Since summer of 2003 there has been an acute increase in the Armenian side’s violations of the cease-fire. In addition to shelling and killing Azerbaijani soldiers along cease-fire line, Armenians also attack civilians residing in the adjacent territories.

1.4. Armenian terrorism

After the open assertion by Armenia in the late 1980s of its territorial claims on Azerbaijan and the launching of armed operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Armenian terrorism became significantly more active and such well-known terrorist organizations as the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, the Commandos of Justice of the Armenian Genocide and the Armenian Revolutionary Army transferred the centre of their activities from the Middle East, Western Europe and North America to the territory of the former USSR.

In all, as a result of terrorist acts against Azerbaijan carried out since the late 1980s by the Armenian secret service and Armenian terrorist organizations closely connected with it, including terrorist acts on road, rail, sea and air transport and ground communications, over 2,000 citizens of Azerbaijan have been killed, the majority of them women, the elderly and children.

It is notable that the first entry in the tragic list of crimes by Armenian terrorists in the territory of Azerbaijan was made before the beginning of the conflict, in 1984, when, in Baku, a passenger bus on the № 106 route was blown up, killing one woman – mother of two children – and injuring several other people. The identified terrorist responsible for that crime was an Armenian named Vartanov.

In early 1988, terrorism in Armenia was raised to the status of State policy and its target was the territory of Azerbaijan. Weapons and ammunition were transported on a large scale from Armenia to the NKAO and into the hands of underground terrorist groups in other parts of the territory of Azerbaijan. In 1988 alone, more than 100 instances of the illegal manufacture and the theft of firearms were uncovered by the law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan. During the same year, Armenians carried out 32 terrorist acts in NKAO and in districts on the frontier with Armenia, the victims of which were primarily civilians.

In December 1988, a military transport aircraft on the Baku-Yerevan route with rescue-workers and humanitarian aid for victims of the Armenian earthquake on board suffered a disaster near Yerevan in circumstances which remain unexplained. Some versions speak of firing, and others of the deliberate disorientation of the pilot by air traffic control at Yerevan airport (in view of the low altitude of the flight and the mountainous terrain) or the placing of a bomb on board. The underlying motive for this planned “air disaster” is completely unprecedented, in that the victims of this crime were 79 people who had been sent on a humanitarian mission from Azerbaijan to Armenia, despite the difficulties that had by then arisen in relations between the two republics.

On 27 May 1989, on a train from Yerevan to Baku, an Armenian citizen, V.Minasyan, was arrested and found to be in possession of an explosive device. In her statement she confessed that she had been intending to carry out an act of sabotage in Baku. The first attempt to carry out the plans did not succeed, but on 24 July 1989 there was an explosion on a train of Azerbaijan railways at Karchevan station.

On 7 October 1989, the road bridge across the river Khalfalichai on the southern edge of the town of Khankandi, was blown up. On 29 April 1992, the perpetrator of this terrorist act – one A.Abramyan – was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Over the period from 19 January to 17 February 1990, a terrorist group based in Yerevan carried out numerous raids from the territory of Armenia on the innocent inhabitants of frontier villages in the Gazakh district of Azerbaijan, resulting in the deaths of inhabitants and shepherds of the Kheyrymly and Sofulu villages. The same terrorist group carried out an attack on a patrol vehicle of the Gazakh district division of internal affairs and plotted the destruction of a railway locomotive. Two members of the group, L.Arutyunyan and A.Mkrtchyan, detained by the law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan, were sentenced by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan to five and six years’ imprisonment respectively.

On 18 February 1990, 13 people were injured by an explosion in an inter-city bus on the Shusha- Baku line, at the 105 km marker on the Yevlakh-Lachyn road.

On 4 March 1990, Armenian terrorists blew up the Nabiyar-Shusha pipeline, which supplied the town of Shusha with its drinking water.

On 11 July 1990, between the settlements of Getavan and Charaktar in the Mardakert district of Azerbaijan, an armed assault was launched on a road convoy, traveling under troop escort and conveying people and goods to the town of Kalbajar. In that terrorist act, three people were killed and 23 injured. On 19 June 1992, the individual identified during the investigation as the perpetrator of this crime, one A.Airiyan, was sentenced by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan to death by firing squad.
On 10 August 1990, in the Khanlar district of Azerbaijan, Armenian terrorists blew up an intercity bus operating on the Tbilisi-Aghdam route, killing 20 passengers and injuring 30. The perpetrators of that terrorist act were arrested before they were able to carry out their plan to blow up, on 17 June 1991, a bus on the Aghdam-Tbilisi route. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan found A.Avanesyan and M.Tatevosyan guilty of those crimes and sentenced them to death by firing squad and 15 years’ imprisonment respectively.

In November 1990, a terrorist group, set up by one M.Grigoryan, a member of the terrorist organization Ergraparkh, based in the territory of Armenia, and composed of inhabitants of the Echmiadzin district of Armenia, was sent into the territory of Azerbaijan. This group was disarmed by the law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan while attempting to carry out acts of terrorism and sabotage. By its decision of 18 June 1991, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan handed down the following prison sentences on the members of the group: T.Khachatryan – nine years, Z.Oganyan – eight years and A.Grigoryan – seven years.

On 9 January 1991, at the 5 km marker on the Lachyn-Shusha road in the area of Galadarasi village, Armenian terrorists fired on a UAZ-469 vehicle belonging to military unit № 44688 of the city of Ganja, killing the driver, Sergeant I.I.Goek, the commander of the reconnaissance battalion, Lieutenant Colonel A.P.Larionov, the chief of staff in the commandant’s office of military unit № 3505 (the command centre for the special units of the interior forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR), Major I.D.Ivanov, and a journalist from the newspaper Molodezh Azerbaidzhana – Ms. S.A.Asgarova, born 1969, who left an orphaned infant son. On 23 March 1993, the perpetrators of this crime – A.Mkrtchyan, G.Petrosyan, A.Mangasaryan, G.Arutyunyan and G.Arustamyan, who, in addition to the case in question, had been responsible for other acts of terrorism and murders – were sentenced by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan to death by firing squad, and other members of the terrorist group to prison sentences of varying lengths.

On 30 May 1991, 11 people were killed and 22 injured following an explosion on a passenger train from Moscow to Baku near Khasavyurt station (Dagestan, Russian Federation).

In May 1991, officials of the law enforcement agencies arrested S.Aznaryan, an inhabitant of the Noemberyan district of Armenia, in a Baku-Tbilisi train at Shamkir station and removed from his possession two mines, a sub-machine-gun and maps of the Azerbaijan rail and road network. On 31 July 1991, a Moscow-Baku passenger train was blown up near Temirgau station (Dagestan, Russian Federation), killing 16 people and injuring 20.

The law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan detained and disarmed two members of the Armenia-based terrorist organization Urartu, A.Tatevosyan and V.Petrosyan, who, on 2 August 1991, had carried out an armed attack on inhabitants of the Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan. The terrorists were sentenced by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan to ten and eight years’ imprisonment respectively.

On 20 November 1991, Mi-8 helicopter carrying a group of peace-enforcement representatives from Russia, Kazakhstan and the senior Azerbaijani leadership was shot down near the village of Garakand in the Khojavand district of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The killing of 22 people, including statesmen from three countries, effectively put an end to the first attempt to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and prompted an escalation of violence in the region.

The single successful terrorist act carried out by Armenian terrorists against vessels of the Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Line occurred on 8 January 1992. An explosion on the ferry “Sovetskaya Kalmykia” operating between Krasnovodsk and Baku claimed the lives of 25 people and injured 88. The same year an attempt to carry an explosive device on to the steamer “Sabit Orujov” was prevented in time.

On 28 January 1992, a civilian helicopter flying on the Aghdam-Shusha route was shot down by Armenian terrorists over the Azerbaijani town of Shusha, killing 41 passengers, most of them women and children, as well as the crew.

On 28 February 1993, 11 people were killed and 18 injured near Gudermes station (Dagestan, Russian Federation) by a bomb placed in a Baku-Kislovodsk train.

On 2 June 1993, a passenger carriage was blown up in a siding at Baku railway station. On 22 July 1994, I.Khatkovskiy, a Russian national and correspondent for the newspaper Demokratichesky Tilzit, resident of the village of Gastelovo in the Slavsky District of the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation, was found guilty of committing this crime and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The investigation process revealed that I.Khatkovsky was recruited by the intelligence service of the Directorate for National Security (the former KGB) of Armenia and provided with detailed instructions on how to organize the bombing of transportation facilities, communications and vital services in Azerbaijan, gather intelligence information and commit terrorist acts in the territory of the Russian Federation.

On 1 February 1994, a Kislovodsk-Baku passenger train was blown up at Baku station, killing 3 people and injuring more than twenty.

On 9 April 1994, a railway car was blown up at Khudat station.

On 17 March 1994, an Iranian C-130 transport aircraft was shot down in Azerbaijani airspace over Azerbaijani territory occupied by Armenian armed forces, resulting in the deaths of 32 people who were citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On 19 March 1994, a bomb placed in one of the carriages of a train by Armenian terrorists exploded an underground railway station in Baku. As a result of this act, 14 people were left lying lifeless and 42 were injured, some seriously. Only thanks to the alertness of the railway staff who on 26 March 1994 found an explosive device in a railway carriage at Gazymammad station of Azerbaijan Railways was another tragedy averted.

Six people were killed and three wounded at Dagestanskiye Ogni station (Russian Federation) on 13 April 1994 as a result of an explosion on a Moscow-Baku passenger train.

On 3 July 1994, there was an explosion on a train between the 28 May and Ganjlik underground stations, killing 14 people and wounding 54.

2. Legal aspects of the conflict

In order to justify the territorial claims of Armenia towards Azerbaijan, the officials of the former frequently raise a proposition, according to which Nagorno-Karabakh has never been within the jurisdiction of independent Azerbaijan.

In addition, in view of official Yerevan, the secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan in the process of disintegration of the USSR in 1991 and the establishment of the “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh” were legally founded. Thereby the special emphasis is placed on the provisions of the Law of the USSR “On the Procedures for Resolving Questions Related to the Secession of Union Republics from the USSR” of 3 April 1990, according to which in case of realization by the Union Republic of the secession procedure provided for in this Law autonomous entities would acquire a right to decide independently the question of staying in the USSR or in the seceding republic, as well as to raise the question of their own state-legal status.

Moreover, Armenia claims that Azerbaijan has no any reason to pretend to its frontiers of the Soviet period insofar as it refused to regard itself as a successor State to the USSR.

Apart from that mentioned above, the Armenian side frequently speculates on the international legal principle of the right of peoples to self-determination trying to extend its application to the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh in form of unilateral secession.

As was mentioned above, on 20 February 1988, the representatives of the Armenian community at the session of the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the NKAO had adopted a decision to petition to the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR for the transfer of the NKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenian SSR.

It should be made clear in this regard that the procedure for changing the borders of Union republics was stipulated in the constitutions of the USSR and the Union republics. Thus, under Article 78 of the USSR Constitution, the territory of a Union republic could not be altered without its consent. The borders between Union republics could be altered by mutual agreement of the republics concerned, subject to approval by the USSR. This provision was also incorporated in the Constitutions of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR.

In response to the decision of the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the NKAO of 20 February 1988, on 15 June 1988 the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR adopted a resolution agreeing to the incorporation of the NKAO in the Armenian SSR and requesting the Supreme Soviet of the USSR to consider and approve the transfer of the oblast from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenian SSR. In resolutions adopted on 13 and 17 June 1988, the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR and its Presidium, in turn, declared the transfer of the NKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenia SSR to be unacceptable and impossible, based on Article 78 of the Constitution of the USSR and Article 70 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR.

It would seem, based on the provisions of the Constitution of the USSR and the Basic Laws of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR then in force, that the issue could have been considered closed, particularly since there were no serious grounds even for discussing the possibility of changing the borders between the Union republics.

However, on 12 July 1988, the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the NKAO adopted an illegal decision on the secession of the oblast from the Azerbaijan SSR. In response, on 13 July 1988 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR, guided by the Constitutions of the USSR and the Azerbaijan SSR, as well as the Law of the Azerbaijan SSR “On the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast”, adopted a resolution declaring the decision of the Soviet of People’s Deputies of the NKAO of 12 July 1988 on the unilateral secession of the NKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR to be illegal and without effect.

The so-called “Congress of plenipotentiary representatives of the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast”, held on 16 August 1989, declared unambiguously that it refused to recognize the status of Nagorno-Karabakh as an autonomy within the Azerbaijan SSR. At the same time, the “Congress” proclaimed the region an “independent union territory”, in which the Constitution of the Azerbaijan SSR and other laws of the republic no longer applied. The “Congress” established a “national soviet”, which was declared the sole people’s authority in the NKAO.
As was to be expected, the reaction of the Azerbaijani side was not slow in coming. Thus, on 26 August 1989, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR adopted a resolution declaring the decision of the so-called “Congress of plenipotentiary representatives of the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast” to be illegal.

Of course, the Armenia SSR also participated actively in the attempts to formalize through legislation the seizure of the NKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR. In addition to the aforementioned resolution of the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR of 15 June 1988, the highest legislative body of this Union republic adopted many other anti-constitutional decisions, the best known of which is the resolution on the reunification of the Armenian SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh, adopted on 1 December 1989.

Against the background of these and many other decisions of the Armenian parliament on Nagorno-Karabakh, which openly attempted to legalize the unilateral seizure of part of the territory of one Union republic for the benefit of another and incite the creation of an unconstitutional entity in the territory of another State, the statements now being made by Yerevan about the non-involvement of Armenia in the hostilities in the territory of Azerbaijan may cause surprise, to say the least.

Obviously, before Azerbaijan and Armenia gained independence and the conflict was taken up by international organizations, the USSR central authorities played the role of arbitrator. In connection with the adoption in the late 1980-s of the illegal decisions aimed at the secession of the NKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR and annexation of the oblast to the Armenian SSR, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and its Presidium considered on several occasions the situation with respect to the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. All decisions of the superior State body of the former USSR, in particular the resolutions of 10 January and 3 March 1990, unequivocally recognize the inadmissibility of changing borders and the constitutionally established national-territorial division of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR.

Thus, the whole process of separation of Nagorno-Karabakh from the Azerbaijan SSR in favor of the Armenian SSR, formally started on 20 February 1988, was accompanied by the apparent violation of the USSR Constitution, and, therefore, caused no legal consequences whatsoever.

The correctness of this appraisal is circumstantially evidenced by the next attempt of the Armenian side to legalize the secession of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was made on 2 September 1991 by proclamation that day the “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh”. In the Armenian side’s opinion, the basis for the legality of this step was the Law of the USSR “On the Procedures for Resolving Questions Related to the Secession of Union republics from the USSR” of 3 April 1990.

The Armenian side is confident that the establishment of the “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh” was irreproachable from the point of view of standards of international law, since, in its view, on the date the Republic of Azerbaijan obtained its recognition, the “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh” no longer formed part of it. However, as a simple analysis of these arguments shows, there are serious doubts as to their “irreproachability” precisely from a legal point of view.

It is necessary first to note that the purpose of the Law of 3 April 1990 was to regulate mutual relations within the framework of the USSR by establishing a specific procedure to be followed by Union republics in the event of their secession from the USSR. A decision by a Union republic to secede had to be based on the will of the people of the republic freely expressed through a referendum, subject to authorization by the Supreme Soviet of the Union republic.

At the same time, according to this Law, in a Union republic containing autonomous entities, the referendum had to be held separately in each of them, peoples of which retained the right to decide independently the question of staying in the USSR or in the seceding Union republic, as well as to raise the question of their own state-legal status. It is not difficult to see how an attempt by a Union republic to secede from the USSR would have ended, assuming it had complied with the procedure stipulated in the Law of 3 April 1990. It is therefore curiously to hear this Act being invoked by uncompromising advocates of the unrestricted right of peoples to self-determination, since that is precisely what the Law limited.

It is important to emphasize that the secession of a Union Republic from the USSR could be regarded valid only after the fulfillment of complicated and multi-staged procedure and, finally, the adoption of the relevant decision by the Congress of the USSR People’s Deputies.

However, until the Soviet Union ceased to exist as international person the mentioned Law was without legal effect, since no Union republic, including Azerbaijan and Armenia, had used the procedure for secession stipulated in it.

Until the Republic of Azerbaijan attained full independence and was recognized by the international community, the territory, on which the NKAO of the Azerbaijan SSR existed before 26 November 1991, had remained part of Azerbaijan.

After the collapse of the USSR, the international legal doctrine of uti possidetis juris underlay the international, regional and national legitimation of boundaries of the newly independent States.

According to the above-mentioned doctrine, from the time of attainment by the Republic of Azerbaijan of its independence, the former administrative borders of the Azerbaijan SSR, which included also the NKAO, are recognized as international and protected by international law. This understanding is also confirmed in the aforementioned four UN Security Council resolutions on the conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

As far as the right of peoples to self-determination is concerned, it is well known that, in reality, the practical realization of this right, as stipulated in the relevant international documents, does not involve unilateral secession, but represents a legitimate process carried out in accordance with international and domestic law within precisely identified limits. Obviously, the critical factor in addressing the issue of self-determination with regard to the conflict in question is that all actions aimed at tearing away a part of the territory of Azerbaijan were unconstitutional and accompanied by violation of basic rules of international law, particularly those prohibiting the use of force and the acquisition of territory.

Azerbaijan’s approach to the right of self-determination derives from its true value and envisages securing the peaceful coexistence and cooperation of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and creating the necessary conditions for the effective realization of their right to participate in the conduct of public affairs, including through the formation of legitimate regional authorities at all levels.

3. Situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan

Armenia exercises overall effective control of Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories, whether directly by its own armed forces or indirectly through a subordinate separatist regime which survives by virtue of its military and other support.

Taking advantage of the favorable results of military actions, Armenia is trying to consolidate the current status quo and impose finally a fait accompli situation through measures aimed at preventing the expelled Azerbaijani population from returning to their places of origin. Such measures include, inter alia, continuing illegal settlement practices and economic activities in the occupied territories accompanied by serious and systematic interference with property rights.

Sources, including Armenian ones, report on tens of thousand settlers who moved into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including districts adjacent to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, including Lachyn, Kalbajar, Zangilan and Jabrayil. Armenia intends to increase the Armenian population on the occupied territories from currently reported 143,000 to 300,000 by year 2010. Facts testify that this is being done in an organized manner with the purpose of annexation of these territories.

Highly alarmed by the far-reaching implications of this activity, Azerbaijan has requested to address the situation in its occupied territories within the UN General Assembly. This initiative proceeded from the strong believe that the only way for reaching a just, complete and comprehensive settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is an approach based on the full and unequivocal respect for the letter and spirit of international law.

On 29 October 2004, the UN General Assembly decided to include the item entitled “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” to the agenda of its 59th session. On 11 November 2004, a report on the transfer of population into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan (A/59/568) was submitted to the UN General Assembly. The UN General Assembly’s consideration of this agenda item played a crucial role in attracting attention to the issue of the illegal transfer of settlers into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, as well as in initiating urgent measures for putting this dangerous practice to an end.

A visit to the occupied territories of the OSCE Fact-Finding Mission from 30 January–5 February 2005 became a logical result of Azerbaijan’s initiative to raise the issue on the situation in its occupied territories into the agenda of the 59th session of the UN General Assembly. The main outcome of the mission’s activity was the report based on comprehensive facts, both provided by the Azerbaijan side and obtained during studying the situation on the ground. The mission clearly confirmed installation of settlements in the occupied territories, thus having shared the concerns of Azerbaijan. In their turn, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen, proceeding from the conclusions contained in the Mission’s report, emphasized inadmissibility of changes in the demographic composition of the region and urged appropriate international agencies to conduct needs assessment for resettlement of the population located in the occupied territories and return of the internally displaced persons to their places of permanent residence. The report and recommendations of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen that were based on it, laid down a basis for further consideration and resolution of the problem.

Issue of the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan has been also included into the agenda of the subsequent sessions of the UN General Assembly.

On 7 September 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/60/285 entitled “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” proposed by Azerbaijan in regard to the incidents of massive fires taken place in the occupied territories.

The resolution of the UN General Assembly stressed the necessity of the urgent conduct of the environmental operation, called for assessment of the short-term and long-term impact of the fires on the environment of the region and its rehabilitation. For these purposes, the resolution emphasized the readiness of the parties to cooperate and called upon the organizations and programs of the United Nations system, in particular the United Nations Environment Program to cooperate with the OSCE.

The OSCE Fact-Finding Mission carried out from 4 to 12 October 2006 assessed the short-term and long-term impact of the fires on the environment in the affected territories and confirmed, inter alia, that “the fires resulted in environmental and economic damages and threatened human health and security”.

On 14 March 2008, the UN General Assembly adopted at its 62nd session resolution A/RES/62/244 on the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Seriously concerned that the armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan continued to endanger international peace and security, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed its continued strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the population expelled from the occupied territories to return to their homes. It has been also recognized the necessity of providing normal, secure, and equal conditions of life for Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which would allow to build up an effective democratic system of self-governance in this region within the Republic of Azerbaijan. The General Assembly also reaffirmed that no State shall recognize as lawful the situation resulting from the occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, nor render aid or assistance in maintaining this situation

Against this background, as in many other cases of belligerent occupation, Armenia tries to disguise its own role in regard to what is happening in reality in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and overall camouflage its annexation policy by holding in the occupied territories of various kinds of “elections” and “referenda”. The international community expressed its principled and unequivocal position with regard to these illegal exercises and their negative impact on the ongoing peace process, as well as reaffirmed its respect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

4. Conflict settlement process

The process of mediation efforts for the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict within the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) has been ongoing since February 1992. At the Additional Meeting of the CSCE Council of Ministers, held in Helsinki on 24 March 1992, a decision was adopted to convene as soon as possible a conference on Nagorno-Karabakh in Minsk under the auspices of the CSCE to provide an ongoing forum for negotiations towards a peaceful settlement of the crisis on the basis of the principles, commitments and provisions of the CSCE.

In general, the legal and political constituent for the settlement of the conflict is based on the norms and principles of international law, laid down in UN Security Council resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 as well as in the appropriate documents and decisions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other international organizations. As mentioned above, the UN Security Council resolutions were adopted in 1993 in response to the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan and reaffirmed respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the international borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan and all other States in the region. The Council demanded immediate cessation of all hostile acts, immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from all occupied regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and called for the restoration of economic, transport and energy links in the region, ensuring the return of refugees and displaced persons to their homes. The UN Security Council also approved the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group on the achievement of the peaceful solution to the conflict and called for a search of ways to achieve conflict settlement within the OSCE Minsk process. None of these resolutions was implemented by Armenia.

On 12 May 1994, a ceasefire was established. According to the decision taken at the CSCE Budapest Summit (5-6 December 1994), Heads of States and Governments of the CSCE participating States set up the institution of the Co-Chairmanship of the Minsk Conference for the coordination of all mediation efforts within the CSCE framework. The Budapest Summit tasked the CSCE Chairman-in-Office to conduct negotiations aimed at the conclusion of the political agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict, the implementation of which will remove the consequences of the conflict and will allow for the convening of the Minsk Conference. The Summit also adopted a decision on the deployment of CSCE multinational peacekeeping forces after the achievement of the agreement between the Parties on the cessation of the armed conflict, and the establishment of the High Level Planning Group (HLPG) located in Vienna and aimed at the preparation of the peacekeeping operation. It superseded an earlier Initial Operation Planning Group (IOPG), which was established in May 1993.
The OSCE Chairman-in-Office issued on 23 March 1995 a mandate for the Co-Chairmen of the Minsk Process (DOC. 525/95).

At the OSCE Lisbon Summit, which was held on 2-3 December 1996, the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group and the OSCE Chairman-in-Office recommended the principles, which should be the basis for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. But Armenia did not accept these principles and was the only one out of 54 OSCE participating States not to support them.

The OSCE Chairman-in-Office made a statement with the inclusion of those principles. They are as follows:
– territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Republic;
– legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh defined in an agreement based on self-determination which confers on Nagorno-Karabakh the highest degree of self-rule within Azerbaijan;
– guaranteed security for Nagorno-Karabakh and its whole population, including mutual obligations to ensure compliance by all the Parties with the provisions of the settlement.

After the Lisbon Summit the institution of the triple Co-Chairmanship, including Russia, France and the USA, was established in 1997 (since 1992 the Chairmen of the Minsk Conference were Italy in 1992-1993, Sweden in 1994, Russia and Finland in 1995-1996). In April 1997 the negotiations were suspended and substituted by visits of the Co-Chairmen to the region. On 1 June 1997, the Co-Chairmen presented a draft of a comprehensive agreement on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which consisted of the Agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict and the Agreement on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Despite the readiness of Azerbaijan to start constructive consultations on the essence of the mentioned documents, Armenia categorically rejected the proposed approach.

On 19-23 September 1997, the Co-Chairmen, during their visit to the region, presented new proposals based on a “stage-by-stage” approach to the settlement, according to which it was planned at the first stage to liberate 6 occupied districts, to deploy the OSCE peacekeeping operation, to return the displaced persons to the liberated territories and to restore main communications in the conflict zone. At the second stage the problems of Lachyn and Shusha were to be solved and the main principles of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh were to be adopted. As a result, the OSCE Minsk Conference ought to be convened. On 10 October 1997, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in their joint Statement in Strasbourg stated that “the recent proposals of the Co-Chairmen were a hopeful basis for the resumption of negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group”.

But after the resignation in February 1998 of Levon Ter-Petrossian, the President of Armenia, and with the coming to power in March 1998 of Robert Kocharian, the next visit of the Co-Chairmen to the region took place, when Armenia officially withdrew the consent to the proposals on the “stage-by-stage” settlement of the conflict.

On 9 November 1998, the Co-Chairmen put forward proposals based on the concept of a “common State”. According to this concept, Nagorno-Karabakh would have the status of a State and a territorial unit in the form of a republic, which, together with Azerbaijan would constitute the common State within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan rejected those proposals since they violated its sovereignty and contradicted the Lisbon principles.

In order to give additional impetus to the negotiations, direct talks between the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia on achieving conflict settlement began in April 1999.

During their visit to the region in March 2002 the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen proposed to conduct negotiations at the level of special representatives of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The proposal was accepted by the heads of both states. On March 13-15 and July 29-30 2002, the two meetings of the special representatives of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan took place near Prague.

In 2004, direct talks between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan started within the so-called “Prague Process”.

On 25 January 2005 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted its resolution 1416 titled “The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference”. The Parliamentary Assembly reaffirmed the occupation of a considerable part of the territory of Azerbaijan and expressed its concern that the military action, and the widespread ethnic hostilities which preceded it, led to large-scale ethnic expulsion and the creation of mono-ethnic areas which resemble ethnic cleansing. The Assembly made it clear that the occupation of foreign territory by a member State constitutes a grave violation of that State’s obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and reaffirmed the right of displaced persons from the area of conflict to return to their homes safely and with dignity. The Assembly also recalled the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and urged the parties concerned to comply with them, in particular by withdrawing military forces from any occupied territories.

In May 2006 for the first time since 1997, when the current format of the Co-Chairmanship of the Minsk Group was established, a joint Mission of Representatives of the Co-Chair countries at the Deputy Foreign Minister level traveled to the region in order to make clear to the Presidents of both countries that 2006 was the necessary window of opportunity for reaching an agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to the Co-Chairmen report of 22 June 2006 in Vienna, a set of core principles had been proposed to Presidents Aliyev and Kocharian. They clarified that their approach was not aimed at solving all aspects of the conflict in one phase. Instead, in the words of the Co-Chairmen, their principles sought to achieve a major degree of progress, but deferred some very difficult issues to the future and envisioned further negotiations.

Nevertheless, the Co-Chairmen stated that since the two Presidents failed to agree, they had reached the limits of their creativity in the identification, formulation, and finalization of these principles. They made clear that if the two sides are unable to agree on those principles, which have been put forward, it is now contingent upon the parties themselves to work together to reach an alternative agreement that both find acceptable. The Co-Chairmen pointed out that they see no point right now in continuing intensive shuttle diplomacy and in initiating further presidential meetings.

In response to the statement of the Minsk Group Co-Chairmen and comments made on that by the Armenian side, which has traditionally attempted to distort the reality of the process of negotiations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan clarified, inter alia, that definition of the legal status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan is impossible under the conditions of continuing occupation and ethnic cleansing and, accordingly, envisages liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, demilitarization of the whole conflict zone, provision of appropriate international security guarantees therein and the return of the forcibly displaced population of Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani side once again reaffirmed its readiness to grant Nagorno-Karabakh the highest status of self-rule within the internationally-recognized territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan and based on its Constitution.

The Ministry also pointed out that with the aim of establishing inter-communal harmony, as well as creating objective conditions for defining the region’s status, and also taking into consideration the perspective of the region’s further development, Azerbaijan would be prepared to review, in conformity with the precedents existing in international practice, implementation of a complex of economic and other incentives for the population of Nagorno-Karabakh after the restoration of its ethnic composition as of the pre-conflict period.

Along with that, the Ministry reaffirmed Azerbaijan’s adherence to continuing talks to achieve lasting and fair peace in the region.
On 13 July 2007, the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group issued a statement in which they provided an assessment of the emerging situation in the settlement process for the conflict in light of the meeting between the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the President of the Republic of Armenia Robert Kocharian in St. Petersburg on 9 June 2007. The Co-Chairmen stated that during the meeting the Presidents concentrated their discussion on a limited number of obstacles that stand in the way of agreement on a set of “basic principles” for the peaceful settlement of the conflict. The Co-Chairmen in their statement took note of the initiative to organize a joint visit to Yerevan, Baku and Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan of a group of intellectuals from Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Co-Chairmen welcomed and highly appreciated that event, which they consider as a first concrete confidence-building measure.

On 2 November 2008, the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation signed a Declaration in Moscow. The Declaration states that “the settlement of the conflict should be based on the norms and principles of the international law and the decisions and documents approved within this framework”, which includes among others the UN Security Council Resolutions of 1993 as well as the UN General Assembly Resolutions of 2006 and 2008. It also declares that the settlement of the conflict based on the norms and principles of international law will create favorable conditions for economic growth and all-round cooperation in the region. Thus, the document brings to naught the speculations by Armenia on priority of regional cooperation before the final settlement of the conflict and elimination of its main consequences.

In 2009, the negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict became more intensive. Six meetings between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan and three meetings at the level of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs were held with the participation of the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group.

During the meeting between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held on 22 November 2009 in Munich, the sides achieved some progress in drawing their positions closer on several issues.

In the framework of the 17th OSCE Ministerial Council held in Athens on 1-2 December 2009, the representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries – Foreign Ministers of Russia and France and the US Deputy Secretary of State made a joint statement. In addition, the OSCE Ministerial Council adopted a Statement on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. The aforementioned statements refer to basic principles envisaged in the Moscow Declaration and the Helsinki Final Act as important elements of the conflict settlement process.

Negotiations on settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict based on international norms and principles within the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan continued to be conducted during 2010. Negotiations carried out throughout the year were based on the updated Madrid principles presented by the Minsk Group co-chairmen in December 2009.

In the negotiations Azerbaijan’s position consisted of recovering territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, withdrawal of the occupant forces from the occupied territories, returning of the IDP to their homes, providing peaceful living together for Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, reconstruction of the destroyed territories and opening communications and in the next stage defining the status of MG/NK region with participation of both communities within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

In 2010 three meetings were held between the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the President of the Republic of Armenia – on 25 June in Sochi and 17 June in Saints Petersburg and on 27 October in Astrakhan, with mediation of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev.

As a result of the final talks the two sides adopted joint statement on returning corpses of hostages and prisoners of war, as well as people died as a result of violation of cease-fire with the mediation of OSCE Minsk Group and the International Red Cross Society. Returning the corpses of Mubariz Ibrahimov, National Hero of Azerbaijan and the martyr Farid Ahmadov and burying them in their motherland was achieved as an outcome of the talks.

Throughout 2010, the five meetings were held in total (on 17 July in Almaty, on 6 November in Moscow, on 19 November in Lisbon, on 22 November and 22 December in Moscow). One of the significant steps taken in the way to agreeing on regulation principals of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict was the joint statement by the heads of OSCE Minsk group co-chair states in Muskoka city in Canada on 26 June of the mentioned year. In the mentioned Statement the heads of states mentioned the importance of step-by-step resolution model which considers liberating the occupied territories, returning refugee and IDP to their home lands and other principals

On 19-20 November 2010 at the final Declaration of NATO Summit held in Lisbon territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of regional countries, including Azerbaijan was supported and was called upon to solve the regional conflicts considering these principals.

Simultaneously, within this joint statement adopted by the heads of delegations of the OSCE Minsk group co-chair states and by the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, significance of resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict based on the principals adopted within the framework of OSCE Minsk group G-8 Summit held in Italy in 2009 and in Canada in 2010 was noted once again.

Upon the request of the Republic of Azerbaijan, concerned about continued illegal activities perpetrated by the Republic of Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including the illegal settlement practices, economic exploitation and devastation of these territories, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs conducted a Field Assessment Mission (FAM) to the occupied territories of Azerbaijan surrounding its Nagorno-Karabakh region from October 7-12 2010, with the aim to assess the overall situation there. The FAM revealed once again the continued policy of illegal settlement of ethnic Armenians in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan as well as infrastructure changes and economic activities conducted in these territories in violation of Forth Geneva Convention and additional Protocols relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949, to which Armenia joined in 1993. The major statement of the FAM in its report prepared after the visit was that the status quo in the occupied territories is unacceptable and Armenia should put an end to its illegal practices continuing in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

In 2011, the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia held two meetings at the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation, H.E. D.Medvedev: on March 5, in Sochi and on June 24, in Kazan. The meetings were concluded without any result. The main reason of the failure was an obstinate and destructive stance of Armenia, which is still aiming to consolidate the current status quo and impose finally a fait accompli situation.

Time has passed but Azerbaijan maintains its interest, motivation and patience in this very hard process of negotiations. It seems that hardness of these talks has nothing in common with objective criterias and reasons but more caused by factors of subjectivity and internal political difficulties inside Armenia. Azerbaijan believes that the international community will not allow the Armenian side to further abuse the right of Azerbaijani nation to live within its own territory including its Nagorno-Karabakh region.

5. Position of Azerbaijan towards the conflict settlement

Although the mediation efforts conducted for already quite a long period of time within the framework of the OSCE have not always been consistent and have yet to yield results, Azerbaijan continues to be committed to solving the conflict peacefully and in a constructive manner.

The strategy of the government of Azerbaijan is aimed at the liberation of all occupied territories, the return of forcibly displaced population to their homes, and the establishment of durable peace and stability in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, as well as in the entire South Caucasus.

The ultimate objective of the settlement process is to elaborate and define the model and legal framework of the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan. Having said that, Azerbaijan believes that the process of definition of any status shall take place in normal peaceful conditions with direct, full and equal participation of the entire population of the region, namely, the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities, and in their constructive interaction with the government of Azerbaijan exclusively in the framework of a lawful and democratic process.

A number of important steps have to be taken to reach a stage where the parties concerned can start considerations of the self-rule status for the Nagorno-Karabakh region within Azerbaijan.

Firstly, the factor of military occupation must be removed from the conflict settlement context. Delay of return of the territories, which is not justified by the real substantial reasons, can complicate the already difficult settlement process.

Secondly, demographic situation, which existed in the region before the outbreak of the conflict, must be restored. It is clear that the status may only be defined through direct participation of both Azerbaijani and Armenian communities, living side-by-side in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Thirdly, the regime of interaction between the central authorities of Azerbaijan and local authorities of the Armenian community must be established, until the new legal status of self-rule for the Nagorno-Karabakh region is elaborated.

Another important element is a rehabilitation and economic development of the region. This step is essential for the process of normalization of life and restoration of peaceful coexistence and cooperation between two communities. It should include restoration and development of economic links between two communities, as well as between central authorities of Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh region, restoration and opening of the communications for the mutual use by both sides in both directions. This will in particular provide a connection for the Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region with Armenia, and for Azerbaijan with its Autonomous Republic of Nakhchyvan through the Lachyn road.

The fifth element entails the cooperation between two communities in the humanitarian sphere, implementation of the special programs on education and tolerance.

As for the implementation of the peace agreement to be signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, it will be guaranteed by the commitments undertaken by the two sides under the Agreement, and by the relevant international guarantees, including those by the great powers and the international organizations.

It is obvious at the same time that the success of the peace process depends on constructive approach of both sides, as well as on the active contribution of the international community, especially of the OSCE Minsk Group and its Co-Chairmen.

However, it is very difficult to hope for a substantial breakthrough judging from a position, on which Armenia persists. Indeed, the military actions against Azerbaijan were aimed from the very beginning at seizing the territories by means of force and fundamental change of their demographic composition. Therefore, it is exactly for the purpose of unilateral secession Armenia wants to retain control over some occupied districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, prevents the displaced Azerbaijani population from returning to their homes and thus excludes equal consideration of opinions of both communities.

It is obvious that this approach of Armenia cannot serve as a sound basis for the conflict resolution. To hold otherwise would be tantamount to accepting the consequences of breaches of the rule of law and human rights, or, in other words, prevalence of force over justice.

While being committed to the peaceful settlement of the conflict, Azerbaijan, however, will never compromise its territorial integrity and thus accept a fait-accompli based solution, which the Armenian side is trying to impose.

The conflict can only be solved on the basis of respect for the territorial integrity and inviolability of the internationally-recognized borders of Azerbaijan, and peaceful coexistence of Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, fully and equally enjoying the benefits of democracy and prosperity.

The continuation of “no peace-no war” situation without concrete prospects for the soonest resolution of the conflict represents a permanent direct threat to the security, independence and democratic development of Azerbaijan. It is also the main source of instability in the whole South Caucasus region.

6. Attachment

Principal documents adopted within the conflict settlement process: