In a statement released on March 18 the Armenian Foreign Ministry, in particular, referred to Aliyev’s visits earlier this week to the Hadrut district and the town of Shushi [called Susa in Azeri] that fell under Azerbaijan’s control as a result of the hostilities.
Both areas were part of the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous oblast inside Soviet Azerbaijan, with Hadrut being predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians.
“Statements made by the president of Azerbaijan in the Hadrut district reveal the intention to destroy Armenian settlements and replace them with the Azerbaijani ones, which violates the provisions of the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020, according to which the displaced people must return to their places of residence. It also proves that the Armenians of Artsakh [the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh] cannot survive under the Azerbaijani control,” the ministry said.
“Moreover, within the framework of its policy of ethnic cleansing, Azerbaijan is undertaking consistent steps aimed at eliminating and appropriating the Armenian cultural heritage of Artsakh. In parallel with the physical destruction of the cultural monuments of Artsakh, which are currently under its control, Azerbaijan at the highest level has resorted to a deplorable practice of falsifying historical facts and alienating religious and cultural values of the Armenian people. It is with this purpose that the president of Azerbaijan misrepresents the nature of the Armenian church of the 17th century in the village of Tsakuri of the Hadrut district distortedly claiming it to be so-called “Albanian” and labeling the Armenian inscriptions on its walls as “fake”, thus preparing the ground for yet another act of vandalism,” it added.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry emphasized that “there cannot be a solid and lasting peace if it is based on the destruction of peaceful settlements of Artsakh, its historical-cultural heritage, annihilation of the Armenian population and the replacement of Armenian settlements with Azerbaijani ones.”
“We will continue our struggle for a just and dignified peace by working closely with our international partners,” the ministry concluded.
Azerbaijan denies it has destroyed or intends to destroy any religious or cultural values of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, stating that the Armenian heritage in the region will be preserved under Baku’s administration.
Baku considers the whole territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, including currently Armenian-controlled areas where Russian peacekeepers have been deployed as part of the November 9 ceasefire brokered by Moscow, to be an integral part of Azerbaijan. Yerevan argues that the final status of the region has not yet been decided.
Responding to the statement of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, official Baku said on Friday that “the visit of the president of Azerbaijan to Azerbaijani territories cannot be a subject for commentaries of the Armenian Foreign Ministry.”
“The Armenian side still does not understand that it is necessary that it should move away from such rhetoric and set itself for the realization of the signed trilateral statements,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.