The operation “Ring”, launched by the special police detachments (OMON) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan, with the support of the USSR Interior Ministry's troops in April-May, 1991 holds a peculiar place in the history of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, both for its scope and consequences.
The operation, which became possible due to a criminal collusion between the Azerbaijani government and some USSR leaders, resulted in a complete devastation and destruction of more than two dozen villages of Northern Artsakh, as well as in Shahumyan, Hadrut and Shushi regions. It ended only after a month, thanks to wide publicity and condemnation both within the USSR and beyond.
But the wheels of the war were set in motion. The operation “Ring”, which stood out by its brutality and massive violations of human rights, sharply increased the level of tension in the region and shifted the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict to a plane of military actions, becoming a prelude to the subsequent full-scale aggression of Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh.
However, Azerbaijan has failed to achieve its main goal - to intimidate the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and suppress their legitimate aspirations for self-determination. On the contrary, the operation “Ring” only strengthened the determination of the people of Artsakh to fight for their rights and freedoms.
NKR MFA Statement on the 21st Anniversary of Massacres in Maragha village
The Azerbaijan's military aggression against the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which became the continuation of Baku policy of violent crackdown on the expression of free will of the people of Nagorno Karabakh is abound with outrageous facts of crimes against the civilian population.
One of its most tragic episodes was a massacre of the population of the village of Maragha in Martakert region, NKR committed by the units of the Azerbaijani army on April 10, 1992. The bloody events in Maragha were certainly a war crime, as the attack on the village was not driven by military necessity but aimed to annihilate its peaceful population.
On this day, after intensive artillery shelling the Azerbaijani armed units invaded the peaceful village and committed a ruthless reprisal over defenseless people. This fact was later confirmed by various human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. According to various sources from 53 to 100 people were killed, more than 60 people including 9 children and 29 women were taken hostages. More than 30 hostages were subsequently killed in Azerbaijani captivity. Two weeks later, the village was subjected to a renewed attack and its inhabitants who returned to bury their relatives yet again fell victim to atrocities committed by the Azerbaijani army.
This hideous crime in Maragha became the next in the chain of the anti-Armenian pogroms and deportations in Northern Artsakh, as well as Sumgait, Baku, Kirovobad and other settlements of Azerbaijan, which aimed at intimidating people and depriving them of the opportunity to live on their native land.
It was the lack of the adequate political and legal assessment of the international community of the massacres and ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population in Azerbaijan which paved a way for the war crime committed by the Azerbaijani army in the village of Maragha.
Impunity for those crimes has created a fertile ground for the implanting of the cult of zealous hatred towards Armenians and anything Armenian and uncurbed propaganda of xenophobia, intolerance and militarism in Azerbaijan.
To break this vicious circle and prevent the recurrence of similar tragedies in the future, the massacre in Maragha should be condemned by the international community, and its organizers and perpetuators punished.
The NKR MFA Statement on the 25-th anniversary of Sumgait pogroms
Mass murders and pogroms of Armenians took place from 27 to 29 February, 1988 in Sumgait, a city located less than 30 kilometers away from the Azeri capital Baku. For three days, upon the silent agreement of the authorities and complete inaction of the law enforcement agencies people were being murdered, raped and maimed for the mere reason of being Armenian. Dozens of killed, hundreds of maimed and thousands of Armenians expelled from Sumgait became the first victims of Azerbaijan’s policy of terror aimed at the Armenians of Karabakh who in the preceding week had officially declared their intention to exercise their right to self-determination. In spite of the peaceful and legitimate nature of those manifestations in Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan from the very beginning rejected dialogue, resorted to the language of threats and intimidation and pursued policy of violent oppression of the free will of the people of Artsakh.
Unfortunately, the Sumgait massacre has not received an adequate political and legal assessment of the international community yet. Moreover, silencing the truth about the Sumgait tragedy, concealing its true causes, and the impunity granted to its masterminds paved the way for ethnic cleansing carried out throughout Azerbaijan. It reached its climax during the bloody massacres and mass deportations of Armenians of Baku in January 1990, which later led to a full-scale military aggression against the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
The tragic events in Sumgait laid the fertile ground and contributed to the further development of the zealous hatred towards Armenians and anything Armenian continuously and successively implanted in Azerbaijan and its society. In today’s Azerbaijan, despite the international community’s calls to prepare its population for peace instead of war, xenophobia, intolerance and belligerence are being spread. Anyone in Azerbaijan, who stands for building any bridges to Armenians is severely intimidated and ostracized by the Government. At the same time, the Azeri officer, who was convicted in Hungary to a life sentence for the brutal Sumgait-type murder of the fellow Armenian classmate, is being glorified as a national hero and role model for youth.
25 years later we pay tribute to the innocent victims of the Sumgait tragedy, and call on the international community to express its firm and unambiguous position in relation to that crime against humanity. A clear and unequivocal assessment of those mass murders and pogroms and condemnation of the forces behind them will both prevent the recurrence of such crimes and contribute to the moral improvement of the Azeri society.
On July 19, the presidential elections were held in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (the Republic of Artsakh). 73,4% of the voters participated in the elections. International observers from 22 countries, as well as local representatives of civil society and political parties monitored the elections. According to the international observers’ preliminary estimate, the elections were held in compliance with the democratic standards and participation of several candidates thus ensuring free expression of will of the republic’s citizens.
The level of the elections held in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is comparable with the level of elections in the advanced democratic countries, and testifies to the irreversibility of the process of building a sovereign and independent state, commitment of our people to the ideals of freedom, democracy and peace building. The elections have once more demonstrated the correctness of the path chosen in the 1991 referendum on independence. With every election the people of the NKR express their firm will to continue this path and the return of the NKR to the past is out of the question.
In this regard, we consider it necessary to state that the participation in the elections and the formation of authorities via honest and fair elections is one of the fundamental rights fixed in the international law and their ignorance and non-recognition is a gross violation of the law.
The speculations that the elections in the NKR may hinder the process of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement are groundless and pursue propaganda goals. The will of the NKR people is crucial in the conflict settlement process and this is fully recognized by the international community and the mediators.
Development of democracy is a fundamental basis of state building in the NKR and corresponds to the interests of the civilized world community. That is why the attitude towards the presidential elections held in the NKR cannot be stipulated by subjective opinion of several political circles displaying conformism to the caprices of the official Baku.
Stepanakert, July 20, 2012
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic supports the joint statement of the Presidents of Russia, the USA, and France on the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict issued in Los Cabos.
We always had a positive attitude to such initiatives aimed at a peaceful solution to the issue, taking into account all the principles of international law, and reaffirm our readiness to follow the appeals and recommendations of the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states.
At the same time, we have to state that the Azerbaijani party continues to interpret the statement of the mediators in a way favorable for itself and to set pre-conditions, thus torpedoing these initiatives. Azerbaijan continues to boycott the implementation of key confidence-building measures in the region, such as elaboration of corresponding mechanisms for investigating the incidents at the borderline, withdrawal of snipers from the contact-line, and others.
Unfortunately, official Baku hasn’t refused yet of the initially assumed force method of solving the conflict. Azerbaijan, representing a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, the responsibilities of which include fighting for the security in the region, refuses of civilized ways of solving the issue.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic expresses hope that this time the authorities of Azerbaijan will display constructivism and abandon their futile policy of military-force blackmail and sabotage threatening the fragile regional security and stability.
We believe that only through a political dialogue, with the equal participation of the Nagorno Karabakh party, it is possible to achieve progress in the negotiations on the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict settlement and to establish lasting peace in the region.
Town of Stepanakert
June 21, 2012
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic states that Azerbaijan continues to actively violate the cease-fire along the entire line of contact between the armed forces of the NKR and AR. On June 18, 2012, at 8:15 am, as a result of gross violation by the Azerbaijani armed forces, conscript of the NKR Defense Army Aram S. Gyulnazarian, born in 1993, was killed.
The next provocation by Azerbaijan is an open challenge to the OSCE, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair states, a boycott of previous commitments and agreements and an attempt to disrupt the upcoming Paris meeting of Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan. A сorresponding note, which reflects the official viewpoint of the NKR authorities on this issue, is submitted to the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office.
We condemn the aggressive and criminal actions of Azerbaijan and declare that the responsibility for the further escalation of tension rests with the Azerbaijani party. Such ongoing criminal tricks of Azerbaijan force us to resort to adequate retaliatory measures.
We believe that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should pass from unaddressed statements to tough estimates and sanctions against Azerbaijan for its armed-force policy, for impeding a peaceful settlement, arousing hatred, and unleashing a new war in the region.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic reaffirms its commitment to the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict by exceptionally peaceful means and its readiness to permanently carry out the existing obligations of the parties to maintain the ceasefire provided by the February 5, 1995 agreement, which was signed by the heads of the Defense Offices of the NKR, RA, and AR.
The NKR Foreign Ministry expresses its confidence that the international community will call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to abandon the futile policy of blackmail, threats and acts of sabotage and to return to a constructive dialogue for achieving lasting peace in the region and a comprehensive settlement of the conflict.
Town of Stepanakert
June 18, 2012