Foreign Ministry reacts on Armenia’s ridiculous data claims

By: Mushvig Mehdiyev

It appears Armenia once again resorted to propaganda and lies to falsely glorify its image and inflate its status within the international community, when its officials claimed to have seen a sharp increase in tourism in Azerbaijan’s occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding territories.

At such a time when tensions have flared up in between Yerevan and Baku, such claims have been perceived as yet another provocation against the people of Azerbaijan, a mean to belittle an entire people’s legitimate territorial claim.

Not content with occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory, Armenia has now chosen to brag about it.

According to reports in Armenian media, foreign tourists allegedly spent an excess of $6.4 million in Azerbaijan’s occupied lands in 2014.

“Those reports proudly disseminated by the Armenian media are ridiculous. Even the annual turnover of an average hotel complex is more than the mentioned sum,” Spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, Hikmat Hajiyev said.

Referring to the ongoing conflict in Karabakh, Hajiyev noted that it was difficult to envision how a land riddled with mines and other dangers could be attractive to tourists, especially since it lacked all infrastructures.

“Moreover, why would tourists visit the occupied lands, if their trips are violation of the law?” Hajiyev asked.

Statistics issued in Armenia show that in between 2007 and 2013 the number of foreign visitors to the occupied Azerbaijani land has grown by an alleged 40 percent. Hoping to rationalize its lies, Yerevan claimed that there are 42 hotel complexes and 25 holiday resorts in Karabakh.

“Azerbaijan, an investor in touristic projects – both nationally and internationally – has not been able to expand the rich touristic potential of those territories since they are under Armenia’s occupation,” Hajiyev said, emphasizing that investing in the occupied lands following their liberation will be one of the main directions of Azerbaijan’s tourism policy.

He believes both foreign and local tourists will be interested in visiting the region.

Focusing on the mutual ties between the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno -Karabakh, Hajiyev expressed his confidence that the promotion of domestic and foreign tourism will help improve local communities’ living conditions and thus promote overall progress.

“Surely, the representatives of the Armenian community of Azerbaijan’s occupied Nagorno-Karabakh remember how the visits of the tourists from Baku, Ganja and Agdam during the Soviet period contributed to improving their living conditions. Not the ludicrous $6.5 million, but hundreds of millions of dollars could be discussed now,” Hajiyev said.

Back in 1992, following a violent and bloody conflict, Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts, plunging the South Caucasus region into a protracted conflict.

The Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts, which historically have belonged to Azerbaijan and have been recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan by the international community, have remained under Armenian occupation for over two decades.

The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations