Azerbaijani army rebuffs Armenian attacks

By: Sara Rajabova

Figuratively speaking, the extinct volcano lying over the Armenian-Azerbaijani contact line over 20 years has awakened recently.

The Azerbaijani community has experienced some mini-war shocks most recently, as the Armenian armed forces aggravated the tensions on the frontline between two sides.

The Armenian reconnaissance and sabotage groups attacked the Azerbaijani army’s positions in different directions of the contact line and border from July 31 to August 1, which caused outbreak of heavy clashes between the troops of the two countries.

The Azerbaijani army was deployed immediately along the frontline following Armenia’s forces attempts to cross the contact line.

The units of the Azerbaijani armed forces repelled the enemy attacks. The Armenian forces retreated after heavy losses.

The Azerbaijani army lost 13 servicemen in the heavy battles in the history of the ceasefire. Several others were also injured.

Armenia has officially announced that only five Armenian soldiers were killed by withholding the true death toll to calm public opinion.

“Armenia hides the real death toll,” the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said. “The toll is quite high.”

Azerbaijan’s national hero, Lieutenant-General Rovshan Akbarov stressed that more than 70 Armenian soldiers were killed and 80 other wounded during the recent fighting on the frontline. He also said 6-7 enemy positions were destroyed as a result of skirmishes.

The frequent ceasefire violations by the Armenian armed forces have never been unexpected for Azerbaijan but the recent escalation of the tensions was more dangerous as it was too close to launch the second Karabakh war.

The Armenian troops breached the ceasefire more than 100 times a day on average during the last several days.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry blamed Armenia for aggravating the situation, saying Yerevan, which initiated and ordered these provocative actions, bears full responsibility for evolving dangerous situation.

The Ministry said the continued presence of Armenia’s armed forces on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan is the greatest threat to the peace process. “Therefore, first and foremost, the armed forces of Armenia should withdraw from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The sooner Armenia realizes’ this, the sooner the region will restore peace, stability and predictability,” the Ministry said.

International community concerned over escalation of tensions

The recent skirmishes on the Armenian-Azerbaijani contact line have sparked concerns among international organizations, as well as the world powers.

They have voiced their concerns over outbreak of fighting and loss of life and called on the parties of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to refrain from further violence on the frontline.

They called on the two sides to restraint from using of forces and take some measures to stabilize the situation.

However, none of the international organizations and countries have yet blamed the true guilty of the outbreak of the violations on the frontline.

The OSCE Minsk group, which has been mediating the peace talks between conflicting sides over the last 20 years, said it strongly condemned the deliberate targeting of civilians and shooting at representatives of international organizations. It also reminded the parties of their obligations under Geneva Conventions.

They appealed to the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents to take immediate actions to defuse tensions and respect the ceasefire agreement. They also urged the presidents to resume negotiations as soon as possible on peaceful settlement of the conflict adding that talks are the only way to bring peace and genuine reconciliation to the peoples of the region.

Following the recent tensions on the frontline, Armenia’s Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan said on August 2, Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents will hold a meeting in Sochi on August 8-9.

Also, Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Andrzej Kasprzyk said he would closely cooperate with involved sides at the highest level to help them de-escalate the situation.

Furthermore, the European Union, United Nations, NATO expressed deep concerns over the recent escalation of tensions and called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to abide by the ceasefire agreement between two sides and refrain from further violence.

Some countries which play an important role in international relations have voiced concern over the clashes on the contact line and Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

The United States has called on conflicting sides to take immediate actions to reduce tensions and respect the ceasefire. The U.S. voiced commitment to helping all sides reach a lasting settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a co-chair of the Minsk Group.

Russia along with other OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries, urges the parties to show maximum restraint and to avoid any actions that could lead to further violence.

The recent skirmish on the contact line has also sparked concerns of the UK, France and Switzerland, as well as the regional countries such as Georgia and Iran.

Azerbaijani officials blamed the international community in demonstrating double standards and called on them to take measures against Armenia that keeps 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territories under occupation.

“The statements of the U.S. Department of State, the UN, the European Union and other influential organizations didn’t meet the expectations of the Azerbaijani community,” Ali Hasanov, head of political and public affairs department at the Presidential Administration in Azerbaijan said in his interview with local media.

He called on the international community to impose sanctions on Armenia. “Armenia was to be imposed on sanctions long ago. The sanctions imposed on Russia on the background of Ukrainian events should be firstly imposed on invader Armenia which disregards the implementation of the four UN SC resolutions adopted since 1992,” Hasanov said.

Azerbaijani MP, Fazail Agamali said the international community equalized the invader and the country that faced the aggression and ethnic cleansing policy during the decades.

“Provocations committed by Armenians on the frontline recently show that the double standards of the international community remained unchanged. The OSCE Minsk Group continues to urge the parties to peace and to observe the ceasefire regime, but no accusations are made against Armenia as an aggressor-country,” Agamali underlined.

The UN and other organizations’ relative resolutions on immediate withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from occupied Azerbaijani territories still remain on paper, while some documents of these organizations are being implemented practically.

The recent escalation of the tensions on frontline should be considered as a warning for the international organizations and world powers. Because, the frequent clashes on the frontline could turn to a war at any time if no decisive measures are taken.

In this case, the region will be engulfed by chaos as it is observed in the Middle East.

Aircraft and helicopters of the Azerbaijani Air Forces fly over the front line as the situation on the contact line remains tense and the war could be renewed at any time.

Azerbaijani army said it is completely ready to free its territories from the Armenian occupation, but again it prefers the diplomatic solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which erupted back in 1988 over Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan.