Azerbaijanis taking part in legitimate peaceful protests around the world against the Armenian artillery attack last month in the border province of Tovuz, which killed a 76-year-old civilian and 10 servicemen, have been violently assaulted by members of the Armenian Diaspora.
Armenia disclaims responsibility for the border attack, blaming Azerbaijan for the incident. However there is no military logic for Baku to carry out such an attack on its internationally recognised border.
Tovuz is a region of great strategic importance for Azerbaijan, in particular due to the energy projects connecting Azerbaijan to Europe – the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline – which pass through the region.
Baku has always supported the peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and demonstrated a constructive approach to the peace process co-chaired by the United States, France and Russia. Unfortunately, Armenia does not appear to want to be constructive.
Following the latest border attack, Armenians living around the world have attacked Azerbaijan’s diplomatic missions, as well as our compatriots in different countries.
“Armenia is showing the same aggression on the streets of Europe and the United States as it does in peace talks and on the border between our countries. Unfortunately, this has meant it has not been possible to achieve a settlement in the peace talks so far.”
On 21 July, a banner with anti-Azerbaijani slogans was pinned to the gate of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington DC. A second attack took place in Los Angeles, where a group of Armenians surrounded the Consulate General of the Republic of Azerbaijan and chanted aggressive slogans.
The Armenian group then attacked members of the Azerbaijani community, who were protesting peacefully outside the Consulate General, injuring seven of them including a woman. Los Angeles police have opened a criminal case against the perpetrators, not only for the assaults, but also for hate crimes.
The US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Earle Litzenberger, who was summoned to Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the incidents, has stressed there is no justification for this attack on Azerbaijani citizens living in the US. The Ambassador added that while the US supports the right to freedom of speech, the Armenian actions were completely unacceptable.
On 22 July, Armenians living in Belgium held a violent demonstration in front of the Azerbaijani Embassy and Mission to European Union in Brussels. The Armenians attacked the building with stones, cutting tools and explosives, injuring six Azerbaijani citizens as well as a journalist from the European bureau of "REAL TV", Khatira Sardargizi.
In addition to damaging the building and a car belonging to one of the Azerbaijani community, there was an attempt to attack the area where the families of the diplomats lived.
Some of the Armenian attackers appeared to be members of ASALA (The Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia), an organisation that has operated across the Middle East and Europe since 1975.
“Baku has always supported the peaceful settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and has demonstrated a constructive approach to the peace process co-chaired by the US, France and Russia. Unfortunately, Armenia does not appear to want to be constructive.”
ASALA has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the US since the 1980s. Belgian police have since detained a number of the Armenian attackers.
On 24 July, a planned Armenian attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Australia was prevented by the Australian Federal Police.
In summary, Armenia is showing the same aggression on the streets of Europe and the United States as it does in peace talks and on the border between our countries. Unfortunately, this has meant it has not been possible to achieve a settlement in the peace talks so far.
Since the adoption of four UN Security Council resolutions, as well as the declaration of a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan, more than 850 Azerbaijani servicemen have been killed or injured by Armenian attacks.
Overall, about 20,000 Azerbaijanis have been killed, more than 50,000 injured and more than 6,000 taken prisoner by Armenia. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan remains ready to respond to the challenges of the European Union and other international organisations and to cooperate with Armenia in one way or another to strengthen humanitarian-confidence building measures if it gives up its policy of occupation.
As the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (represented by the US, Russia and France), have said: “practical steps must be taken to prepare the Azerbaijani and Armenian peoples for peace”.
This article reflects the views of the author and not the views of The Parliament Magazine or of the Dods Group