Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has thanked Islamic states for supporting Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and accused the Armenians of committing “crimes against the entire Muslim world.”
“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has adopted many documents and resolutions on the conflict,” Aliyev was reported on Tuesday to tell the Baku-based ambassadors of Muslim nations. “Those documents support the just position of Azerbaijan.”
“The support and solidarity shown by Muslim countries is very important to us. I thank members of the organization for that support,” he said.
Aliyev singled out a joint declaration adopted by the heads of OIC member states at a summit held in Istanbul in April last year. It branded Armenia an “aggressor” and called for more “coercive” measures that would help Azerbaijan restore control over Karabakh. The statement also blamed Yerevan for four-day hostilities in Karabakh that broke out earlier in April 2016.
The Armenian government responded by accusing the Islamic bloc of “completely distorting the essence of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.” Armenia maintains cordial relations with some OIC member states, notably Iran.
Meeting with the foreign envoys, Aliyev also alleged that the Armenians have destroyed Azerbaijani mosques in the Karabakh town of Shushi (Shusha), Aghdam and other “occupied towns.”“This is a crime against the entire Muslim world,” he charged, according to the APA news agency. “We want all Muslims of the world to know this.”
While the Shia mosques in Shushi and Aghdam are in need of repairs, they were not destroyed after those towns were captured by Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan. The Karabakh leadership claimed in 2010 to have spent over $80,000 on refurbishing them as well as a former Islamic school building in Shushi. It said the cosmetic repairs there were also sponsored by the Karabakh diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The authorities in Stepanakert announced in December last year that they have contracted an unnamed Iranian company to complete the reconstruction of Shushi’s 19th century Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque.