Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the occupation of the city of Shusha
The armed forces of Armenia occupied an ancient Azerbaijani city of Shusha on May 8, 1992. As a result of occupation, Shusha city and 30 villages of Shusha region were destroyed, 195 innocent civilians were killed, 165 were wounded and 58 persons still remain missing. More than 24.000 inhabitants of Shusha were subjected to ethnic cleansing.
The occupation of Shusha was part of Armenia’s systematic policy of occupation and aggression against Azerbaijan. As an outcome of this policy, Armenia by use of force occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan, conducted notorious ethnic cleansing against more than one million Azerbaijanis in the seized territories and committed other serious war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Along with being an inalienable part of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan Shusha city, which is under occupation for 25 years has high historical, cultural, moral and symbolic meaning for the people of Azerbaijan. Occupation of Shusha city, which is called “Cradle of Azerbaijani music”, “Conservatory of the Orient” inflicted heavy damage to the cultural, spiritual and moral heritage of the people of Azerbaijan.
In the framework of Armenia’s deliberate policy of destruction, plundering, desecration and embezzlement of cultural and religious heritage of Azerbaijan in the occupied territories, only in Shusha more than 170 buildings with the status of architectural monument, 160 cultural and historical monuments, mosques, rare manuscripts were destroyed and subjected to vandalism. “Imarat of Panah khan complex” and library, Khan palace and Karvansaray, Yukhari and Ashagi Govharaga Mosques, Saatli Mosque, Mausoleum of Vagif, Natavan’s House and many others are among them.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is under the temporary occupation by Armenia has always been and will remain inalienable part of Azerbaijan.
In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993), condemning the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan and reaffirming respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and the inviolability of its internationally recognized borders. In those resolutions, the Security Council also confirmed that the Nagorno-Karabakh region is part of Azerbaijan, and demanded immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Other international organizations have adopted a similar position.
The international community supports and respects in an unequivocal and principled manner the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. It makes clear to Armenia that the current status-quo achieved as a result of occupation will never be accepted. Moreover, it demonstrates that the international community does not and will not accept attempts to change the internationally recognized borders by use of force.
In total disregard of the position of the international community and in flagrant violation of the international law, Armenia still refuses to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, changes physical, demographic and cultural character of the seized lands, prevents the hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani forcibly displaced persons from returning to their homes, and exercising their right to property, tries to further consolidate the status quo of occupation.
Armenia misuses the noble principle of self- determination to cover up its attempts to annex territories of the neighboring State, Azerbaijan, by use of force. The situation, which Armenia tries to present as a self-determination of the Armenians living in Azerbaijan, has nothing in common with the principle of self-determination contained in the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act. In fact, the principle of self- determination requires the return of the displaced Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh, consisting of more than 80.000 persons including 33.000 inhabitants of Shusha to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, where they will live together with the Armenian community in peace, dignity and prosperity within the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan.
The Republic of Azerbaijan calls upon the international community to force Armenia to peace and exert serious political-diplomatic pressure on Armenia to fulfill its obligations under the international law, cease occupation of Azerbaijan’s territories and withdraw its troops from the occupied lands, and engage constructively in the negotiations.
Azerbaijan is the most interested party in the soonest negotiated settlement of the conflict. However, if the negotiations fail to bring as an outcome withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from our occupied lands, Azerbaijan retains its inherent rights under the UN Charter to ensure the restoration of its sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders.