Authorities in Yerevan have accused President Ilham Aliyev of using hate speech against Armenia and Armenians in his remarks at an inaugural session of Azerbaijan’s newly elected parliament earlier this week.
In her comment published on the official website of Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, spokesperson Anna Naghdalian referred to Aliyev’s extensive speech on March 10 that she said “contained clear manifestations of hate speech towards Armenia and the Armenian people.”
“The authorities of Azerbaijan try to disguise the low level of legitimacy of recent parliamentary elections, inability to implement political and democratic reforms under the veil of aggressive, groundless and false allegations which target not only Armenia and the Armenian people, but also European countries, European structures and the International Election Observation Mission to the parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan,” Nalbandian charged.
In his speech Aliyev, in particular, again called for “offensive diplomacy” in the context of Nagorno-Karabakh settlement and rebuked Muslim countries for having good relations with Armenia and not supporting Azerbaijan in the issue.
The Armenian diplomatic representative said in this regard: “It is particularly concerning that the Azerbaijani leadership tries to instrumentalize religion in its unjustified allegations, on the one hand, accusing European countries of violating the rights of migrants on religious grounds, and calling for religious solidarity in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the other hand.”
Naghdalian said that “the promotion of enmity against the Armenian people, accompanied by new historical and geographical ‘discoveries’ by the president of Azerbaijan, fundamentally contradicts the commitment of Azerbaijan to build up an environment conducive to peace and prepare populations for peace.”
“From this perspective it should be noted that extremely low standards of human rights and democracy in Azerbaijan seriously hinder the advancement of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, particularly the implementation of agreements, reached within that framework.
Attempts of the leadership of Azerbaijan to build its own legitimacy on the grounds of hatred towards the neighboring nation and of mistrust towards the international community are irresponsible and can undermine the regional peace and security,” the Armenian Ministry’s spokeswoman said.
Naghdalian’s statement came amid heightened tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan over recent border skirmishes in which at least one Armenian and two Azerbaijani soldiers were reportedly killed.
Yerevan and Baku accused each other of violating the fragile ceasefire agreed in 1994 to stop a three-year war over Nagorno-Karabakh that killed some 30,000 people.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has led international efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the conflict through its Minsk Group co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France. The diplomatic efforts have brought little progress in recent decades.
Meeting with Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, Personal Representative of the OSCE’s Chairperson-in-Office on the conflict, in Yerevan on March 12, Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan expressed his concern over what he called recent attempts by Azerbaijan to intensify action at some sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. He said that “the regional military-political developments, the international economic and epidemic situation, the weather conditions and a number of other factors increase the likelihood of destabilization.”
The press service of Armenia’s Ministry of Defense quoted Ambassador Kasprzyk as expressing readiness to exert “maximum efforts” in his mediation mission “to ease tensions.”
The same day during a press briefing in Moscow official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “show restraint, refrain from the use of force and activate the negotiating process aimed at achieving a settlement through political means.”