Baku warns of con­se­quences if Ar­me­nia tar­gets gas pipe­lines

Azer­bai­jan’s Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev said the out­come will be se­vere if Yere­van tries to take con­trol of the pipe­lines

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Politics -

in this re­gion has the po­ten­tial to di­rectly af­fect the BakuT­bil­isi-Cey­han (BTC) crude oil pipe­line, the South­ern Nat­u­ral Gas Pipe­line and the Baku-Tbil­isi-Kars (BTK) rail­way.

Aliyev also said that Turkey’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in diplo­matic talks on the re­gion of Nagorno-Karabakh is nec­es­sary and that the con­flict can­not be solved with­out Ankara’s in­volve­ment.

He added that although Azer­bai­jan has Turk­ish F-16 jets, they are not be­ing used in the cur­rent con­flict be­tween Azer­bai­jani and Ar­me­nian forces.

On the other hand, Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov said yes­ter­day that Moscow dis­agreed with Turkey’s po­si­tion on the Nagorno-Karabakh con­flict and that a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion was un­ac­cept­able.

“We do not agree with the po­si­tion voiced by Turkey, that was also ex­pressed sev­eral times by Pres­i­dent Aliyev,” Lavrov said in an in­ter­view with lo­cal ra­dio sta­tions. “It is not a se­cret that we can­not agree with a state­ment that a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion to the con­flict is per­mis­si­ble.”

Lavrov added that it would be right to de­ploy Rus­sian mil­i­tary ob­servers on the line of con­tact in Nagorno-Karabakh but that it was up to Azer­bai­jan and Ar­me­nia to de­cide.

Nagorno-Karabakh has seen heavy fighting over the re­cent weeks which has claimed the lives of 600 peo­ple, in­clud­ing civil­ians. The re­gion is con­sid­ered by the United Na­tions and in­ter­na­tional law to be part of Azer­bai­jan.

Azer­bai­jan has so far lib­er­ated nearly 30 vil­lages in Nagorno-Karabakh since clashes broke out be­tween Ar­me­nian and Azer­bai­jani forces in late Septem­ber.

The clashes be­gan on Sept. 27 when Ar­me­nian forces tar­geted civil­ian Azer­bai­jani set­tle­ments and mil­i­tary po­si­tions in the re­gion, lead­ing to ca­su­al­ties.

From Sept. 27 un­til Oct. 14, at least 43 Azer­bai­jani civil­ians have lost their lives and more than 200 were in­jured, said the coun­try’s chief pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice.

AZER­BAI­JAN CON­TIN­UES OP­ER­A­TIONS

As Azer­bai­jan con­tin­ues its mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions to lib­er­ate Ar­me­nian-oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries in the Nagorno-Karabakh re­gion and its sur­round­ings, Azer­bai­jan’s De­fense Min­istry said yes­ter­day that it had de­stroyed two mis­sile launch sites in Ar­me­nia that were be­ing used to tar­get civil­ian ar­eas dur­ing the fighting.

It was also re­ported that the Azer­bai­jani army has lib­er­ated eight more vil­lages from Ar­me­nia’s oc­cu­pa­tion.

“Azer­bai­jan’s glo­ri­ous Army has lib­er­ated Garadaghli, Khatun­bu­lag, Garakollu vil­lages of Fuzuli district, and Bu­lu­tan, Me­lik­janli, Ke­mer­tuk, Teke and Ta­gaser vil­lages of Kho­javend district. Long live Azer­bai­jan’s Army! Karabakh is Azer­bai­jan!” Aliyev said on Twit­ter.

Hik­met Ha­jiyev, the as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent and for­eign pol­icy chief for Azer­bai­jan’s Pres­i­dency, said in a state­ment yes­ter­day that un­der the pre­tense of a hu­man­i­tar­ian cease-fire, Yere­van’s armed forces con­tinue to launch mis­sile and ar­tillery at­tacks against cities in Azer­bai­jan and the weapons are be­ing shot from in­side Ar­me­nia’s ter­ri­tory.

“Ar­me­nia aims to ex­pand the con­flict’s geog­ra­phy and in­volve third par­ties in the con­flict,” Ha­jiyev said.

Ha­jiyev added that Ar­me­nia calls on for­eign­ers to join their forces in a vi­o­la­tion of the U.N. de­ci­sions.

Ar­me­nia’s De­fense Min­istry con­firmed that ar­eas in­side the coun­try had been tar­geted, de­nied its forces were fir­ing into Azer­bai­jan and said it now “re­serves the right to tar­get any mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions and com­bat move­ments on the ter­ri­tory of Azer­bai­jan.

In an­other state­ment, Ar­me­nian Prime Min­is­ter Nikol Pashinian said yes­ter­day Azer­bai­jan aimed to “oc­cupy” the ter­ri­tory of Nagorno-Karabakh com­pletely, and de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion in the con­flict zone as “very dif­fi­cult”.

Re­la­tions be­tween the two former Soviet re­publics of Azer­bai­jan and Ar­me­nia have been tense since 1991 when the Ar­me­nian mil­i­tary oc­cu­pied Nagorno-Karabakh.

Around 20% of Azer­bai­jan’s ter­ri­tory has re­mained un­der il­le­gal Ar­me­nian oc­cu­pa­tion for nearly three decades.

Mul­ti­ple U.N. res­o­lu­tions, as well as many in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions, have de­manded the with­drawal of the oc­cu­py­ing forces.

The Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Rus­sia and the U.S. – was set up in 1992 by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co-op­er­a­tion in Europe (OSCE) to find a peace­ful so­lu­tion to the con­flict but to no avail. A cease-fire, how­ever, was agreed upon in 1994.

Many world pow­ers, in­clud­ing Rus­sia, France and the U.S., have urged a new cease­fire. Turkey, mean­while, has sup­ported Baku’s right to self-de­fense and de­manded the with­drawal of Ar­me­nia’s oc­cu­py­ing forces.

Most re­cently, Rus­sian De­fense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu urged Ar­me­nia and Azer­bai­jan to abide by the cease-fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh re­gion in a tele­phone call with his coun­ter­parts from those coun­tries, the Rus­sian De­fense Min­istry said yes­ter­day.

Krem­lin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said later in the day that fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh re­gion should stop im­me­di­ately and that the con­flict should be re­solved through diplo­matic means.

FRENCH FM WANTS NEU­TRAL­ITY

France’s for­eign min­is­ter also pressed the coun­try Tues­day to adopt a neu­tral stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh con­flict as fighting in the oc­cu­pied re­gion con­tin­ued.

“We would be do­ing a dis­ser­vice to the qual­ity of our bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship with Ar­me­nia if we took an un­bal­anced pos­ture that would call into ques­tion the role we play in the frame­work of the Minsk Group and the in­flu­ence we have,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told French daily Le Fi­garo.

Azer­bai­jan has sig­nif­i­cant hy­dro­car­bon re­serves which rep­re­sent es­sen­tial chan­nels for many in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies, and Le Drian also rec­og­nizes the rap­port with Ar­me­nia, thus his re­luc­tance to stir the pot.

“We also have a long re­la­tion­ship with Azer­bai­jan,” he said. “We would no longer be le­git­i­mate if we sided with one or the other of the two coun­tries,” he said.

An es­ti­mated 600,000 Ar­me­ni­ans live in France.

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