Turkey, as a permanent member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk group, has a very important role to play in solving the Upper Karabakh conflict, according to an Azerbaijani official.
“Turkey has always supported Azerbaijan immensely,” Tural Ganjaliyev, head of the Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno [Upper] Karabakh region, told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
Upper Karabakh is the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan illegally occupied by Armenia through military aggression since 1991.
Ganjaliyev said that the Azerbaijani internally displaced persons (IDPs) have received support from the Turkish government and people.
He said that not only the government of Turkey, but also NGOs, think-thanks and universities should raise awareness about the plight of the Azerbaijani community and IDPs.
The Armenian occupation of the historical Azerbaijani lands led Turkey, which sides with Baku in the conflict, to close its frontier with Armenia.
Noting that negotiations are ongoing, Ganjaliyev expressed his hope on resolving the conflict peacefully.
“We believe that if Azerbaijani government continues the negotiations, it means there is a potential to solve this conflict by peaceful means.”
He also stressed that the negotiations which have been mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group — which was formed to find a peaceful solution to the conflict — co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S., have not yielded any results yet.
The group’s permanent members are Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and Turkey, as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Ganjaliyev went on to say that international organizations have not been able “to push Armenia to comply with the international law”.
Four UN Security Council and two General Assembly resolutions, as well as decisions by many other international organizations demand withdrawal of the occupational Armenian forces from Upper Karabakh and seven other occupied regions of Azerbaijan.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe refers to the region as being occupied by Armenian forces.
Ganjaliyev — who grew up in the Shusha province of Azerbaijan, which was invaded by Armenian troops when he was 12 years old — said: “Our generation is the last window of opportunity [to solve the conflict] because we have lived with the Armenian community and we engaged with Armenians when we lived peacefully.”
He said there were no “positive movements” from the Armenian side because “it has always been non-constructive in its position”.
“It doesn’t accept the international law, it doesn’t accept the existence of Azerbaijani community in Nagorno [Upper] Karabakh region, which is the main obstacle to the problem solving.”
The Azerbaijani official said he believes that “the only possible solution to the conflict” is the return of Azerbaijanis to Upper Karabakh region, and the restoration of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories.
“There is no second option for the solution because we will never accept the creation of a second Armenian state in our territories. We are not going to allow that.”
– Internally displaced people in Azerbaijan
Ganjaliyev said that when Armenia invaded the lands, the Azerbaijani community was expelled from its territories and during the initial years of expulsion they lived in terrible conditions.
“These were no residences, no apartments or homes. we were living in the tent camps,” he said.
He also highlighted that the government of Azerbaijan “has invested a lot on the bettering of conditions” of the community, adding that the last camps were eliminated in 2008.
“We have modern buildings and apartments for the community members, but it doesn’t mean that we are satisfied. We would like to go back to our lands,” he added.
Ganjaliyev concluded that around one million of refugees and IDPs fled from the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenian aggressors, with over 80,000 coming from the Upper Karabakh region.
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