Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
I have no words to explain my pain about Khojaly genocide and Nagorno-Karabakh tragic incidents which rattled humanity and supported state of lawlessness. It was an act of ethnic cleansing. It was an product of perpetual dirty power politics wherein humanity was badly targeted. The darkness which sieged some 25 years ago to Khojaly is still there because Armenia still holds it illegally.
Most recently, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan termed Khojaly incident as genocide against people of Azerbaijan and strongly supported the just cause of Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh issue is not easy to resolve. It is a complex and complicated matter which needs to be overhauled immediately. Mere words, speeches and repeated narration of pains, griefs and sorrows associated with Nagorno-Karabakh may not achieve any substantial outcome.
Primarily it has various human dimensions which not confined to illegal occupation, continuation of status quo and change of human and physical geography. Secondly, it has political aspects too. Constant denial of de-occupation, liberalization of illegally occupied areas of Azerbaijan and the last but not the least, non-serious approach towards the so many resolutions of the UN Security Council are the easy prey of dirty power politics. Thirdly, it has religious and ritual association too. Burning of holy shrines, books, and mosques are creating senses of barbarisms in the minds of common people. Fourthly, it is also an matter of socio-economic prosperity which has been marginalized due to occupation of more than 20 percent areas of Azerbaijan by aggressor Armenia.
The Nagorno-Karabakh issue is the bleeding wound for the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is also a “looming security” threat to South Caucasus and beyond. Azerbaijan’s successive leaders and people have been striving hard to resolve Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia. But reconciliatory efforts have not yet been succeeded due to many complicated reasons.
The Republic of Azerbaijan has had been trying its best to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the true spirits of international law, rule of sovereignty, respect of human rights and the last but not the least, mutual respect, showing its strong political commitment to do something meaningful for the suffering people of occupied areas under Armenia illegal occupation.
Right from the beginning, the government of Azerbaijan’s took a principled stance that “Nagorno-Karabakh is an “integral part” of it. It has been using government, public, religious and the last but not the least sports diplomacy to achieve the desired goal of de-occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts under illegal occupation of Armenia.
Khojaly genocide was the byproduct of Armenia’s aggression, brutality and state sponsored terrorism against innocent and helpless people of Azerbaijan. On February 26, 1992, Armenia committed a war crime, killing 613 peaceful residents of Khojaly, among them 106 women and 63 children.
It was an act of barbarism. It was a crime against humanity. The Khojaly massacre is one of the most heinous and bloodiest events of the 20th century. It is still a black spot on the collective human conscious of the region and the globe as well. It is an act of barbarism and discrimination. The town of Khojaly came under intensive fire from the town of Khankendi and Askeran already occupied by Armenian armed forces February 25, 1992. According to an official report, 613 civilians were killed, including 106 women, 70 elderly and83 children, and a total of 1,000 civilians were disabled. Moreover, 1,275 innocent people were taken hostage.
Khojaly tragedy is another terrible example of the policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Azerbaijani people, which is pursued by the Armenian nationalists and their patrons for a long time. The Khojaly genocide was an integral part of the occupation policy of Armenia against Azerbaijan, and this led to the massive and gross violation of the norms and principles of international law and human rights and freedoms.
Right of Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh territories is even recognized by the United Nations Security Council which adopted four resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 condemning the use of force against Azerbaijan and the occupation of its territories in 1993. It reaffirmed respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, reconfirmed that the Nagorno-Karabakh region is an integral part of Azerbaijan and demanded the immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from all the occupied territories. Moreover, it demands, including in the first place the withdrawal of the occupying forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, have still not been implemented, and the mediation efforts conducted for the last 20 years within the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have also yet to yield results. The OIC recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as integral part of Azerbaijan. NAM respects Azerbaijan’s non-violence persuasion to liberate Nagorno-Karabakh. OSCE confirms Azerbaijan’s principal stance on Nagorno-Karabakh. National Assembly as well as Senate of Pakistan unanimously condemns Armenia policy of occupation.
Unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict’s has multiplier collateral damages. Thousands of people lost their lives and over one million people became refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). More than Twenty percent of Azerbaijani territory has been occupied and material damages worth billions of dollars as the whole infrastructure devastated or destroyed in the occupied regions. Armenian aggression has badly affected all sectors of its macro-economy. According to the Azerbaijan figures (February, 2017) Azerbaijan 890 cities, villages and settlements, 102 thousand dwelling houses, 7000 public buildings, 695 healthcare facilities, 693 secondary schools, 927 libraries, 310 industrial and building enterprises, 464 historical monuments and museums, 6 state theaters and concert studios have been completely destroyed in the occupied territories.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s conflict played havoc during 1990-1994 during which GDP of the Azerbaijan decreased about 63 percent in total due to agriculture output falling about 43 percent which led to massive unemployment because of loss of fertile agricultural lands. The occupied regions had quite strong progress in agricultural production and productivity growth. However, all those production facilities destroyed and remained in the occupied territories. Azerbaijan preliminary calculations show that the total damage to Azerbaijan caused by Armenian aggression estimated around $60 billion.
Armenian persuasion of Nazi ideology may spoil the basic core and philosophy of the European Union. Its systematic and secretive ways and means to maintain “status quo” would be disastrous for the region and beyond. Life has been stagnated under Armenian occupation. Economy has been worsened. Social life and society has been sieged and caged in all the illegally occupied territories. Moreover, climate, nature and natural resources have been polluted because of criminal psycho of Armenia. Physical infrastructure has been demolished. Cultural buildings have been flattened. Agricultural activities have also been diminished in these areas.
Armenia always pursues the path of escalation. It undertakes consistent measures to consolidate the results of its occupation policy and to maintain unacceptable and unsustainable status quo. It undermines efforts for the peaceful resolution of the conflict through hidden activities. Holding of military drills, census, resettlement of Syrian Armenian, referendum and elections are the serious violations of international law and ceasefire agreement.
Khojaly genocide was an ethnic cleansing of Armenia forces against helpless Azerbaijanis. It was an act of barbarism and naked use of military power but it could not produce any dint to the spirits of Azerbaijanis who are still trying to liberate its occupied areas from Armenia.
The Republic of Azerbaijan and its people are fully committed under the strategic leadership of H.E. President Ilham Aliyev to liberate all the occupied areas under Armenian occupation. Azerbaijan has proven socio-economic superiority and military might (58th globally) as compare to Armenia (93rd) so nefarious provocations could not achieve nothing but further widespread condemnation and political isolation. A series of horrible incidents of “Black January” and unresolved issue of “Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” is still the reminder of Armenia’s brutal aggression against helpless Azerbaijanis living in occupied areas.
Armenia “the mosque destroyer” cannot be friend of any Muslim country must be rigorously projected and pursued while engaging the OIC and its all members in the future. Armenian purchases of arms from Russia or elsewhere are serious security threat to South Caucasus and Eastern Europe.
Despite Azerbaijan’s strong political commitments, 2017 has been lost due to constant negative attitude of Armenia for the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Too many high official meetings between presidents and foreign ministers of both the countries, still its resolution is far away to achieve. Expansion of the OSCE representative personnel in the occupied areas was the only substantial achievement during 2017.
Since Aristotle, power is balanced with superior power and “strong defense is the best deterrence”. Azerbaijan must further develop and diversify its military production facilities and defense industries in order to marginalize the ill designs of Armenia. Further strengthening of military ties with Pakistan and Turkey would be fruitful and decisive. There is great scope in the development of Azerbaijan Air Force which may be achieved by strengthening bilateral military relations with Pakistan and Turkey. Most recently formed Azerbaijan-Pakistan-Turkey Trilateral forum would bring befitting response in the region.
Continuation of status quo poses serious security threat to South Caucasus and the EU. It is the high time to resolve this frozen issue somehow otherwise collective regional peace, harmony, and greater socio-economic prosperity would be in great danger.