Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on Thursday urged the United Nations Security Council to act and prevent ethnic cleansing in Artsakh and send UN-mandated peacekeepers there to maintain the security and stability.
Mirzoyan was speaking at a special session of the UN Security Council, which was called at the initiative of France, to address the large-scale military attack on Artsakh on Tuesday.
The majority of diplomats representing member states, including the United States, France, Germany and others, condemned Baku for its brazen attacks against the population of Artsakh and called on Baku to immediately reopen the Lachin Corridor and unlock access of humanitarian assistance to the people of Artsakh.
Also speaking that special Security Council session was the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, who warned Baku against the forced displacement of the Armenian population in Artsakh.
In his address, Mirzoyan said that the intensity and cruelty of the Azerbaijani attack against Nagorno-Karabakh makes it clear that Azerbaijan’s intention is to complete the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Below is the complete text of Mirzoyan’s statement.
I thank the Security Council for convening this urgent meeting to discuss the security and humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh stemming from unprovoked and well-planned military attack by Azerbaijan.
While the UN General Assembly’s session is underway and all the members of international community are gathered here to look for ways to maintain peace and security worldwide, while we all speak about the imperative to condemn use of force, prevent further loss of human lives caused by man-made disasters, while each of us comes here to contribute to peace, in our region in South Caucasus on 19th September Azerbaijan unleashed yet another large-scale offensive against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, in blatant violation of the international law and Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020. Literally the whole territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert and other cities and settlements came under intense and indiscriminate shelling with use of missiles, heavy artillery, combat UAVs and aviation, including prohibited cluster munition. The intensity and cruelty of the offensive makes it clear that the intention is to finalize ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Outcomes of this large-scale military operation clearly reveal their atrocious nature. Yet they are very preliminary as due to the targeted attacks against critical infrastructure, such as electricity stations, telephone cables and stations and internet equipment, the population is completely cut-off from each other and is deprived of the possibility to present the real-time situation on the ground. Also, Azerbaijani troops control main roads in Nagorno-Karabakh which makes it impossible to visit and get information on the ground.
For the time being there are confirmed cases of more than 200 killed and 400 wounded, including among civilian population, women and children, also accepted today by the
Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More than ten thousand persons became forcibly displaced, including women, children, and elderly, who stay in the open air, without food and other means for subsistence. Thousands of families have been separated. Add to this around twenty thousand displaced persons from the 2020 war to see that there are enormous humanitarian needs on the ground.
People are still starving due to the severe shortages of food imposed by the ongoing 10-month blockade.
The healthcare system has been paralyzed. Hospitals have no electricity and are in a critical shortage of medicine. People are deprived of the opportunity to receive even first aid. Without fuel, ambulances cannot operate to take the wounded to hospitals.
The images coming from Nagorno-Karabakh are truly shocking: women, children, elderly people left without shelter and food, moms desperately trying to find their lost children, wives crying from fear that Azerbaijan may imprison their husbands. It’s hard to believe that all this is happening not a hundred years ago but today in front of the international community in the 21st century. The social media is full of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh searching for their children or relatives. The children that suddenly appeared to stay in shelters or even streets continue crying and asking their parents to take them home, refusing to recognize that they do not have a home anymore. During the shelling an eight-year boy has gone missing in one of the settlements of Nagorno-Karabakh, his brother ten years old was killed and his body has not been even possible to take out from the village. The other brother was injured. These are only examples of numerous cases. In the eyes of Azerbaijan these children are terrorists, and Azerbaijan’s actions, missiles, armored vehicles, artillery and UAVs were directed against those children, their parents and grandparents.
The Azerbaijani social media segment is full of calls to find the missing children and women, to rape them, dismember and feed them to dogs. Azerbaijani users are sharing the profiles of Armenian women from Nagorno-Karabakh on social media making biddings on who will get those women to rape, when they are taken under Azerbaijani custody.
This was feasible, the clear signs were there. We have been alarming for a long time now. The international community refused to take it seriously enough.
The current aggression came as a culmination of a 10-months-long blockade of the Lachin corridor and forced starvation imposed on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. Severe shortage of food, medicine, fuel, natural gas, electricity and other essential goods had already brought the vulnerable people of Nagorno-Karabakh to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe. One should be naive to think that this was not precisely thought through ever since or even before the institutionalization of the inhumane blockade with the aim of bringing down the will and ability of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to resist and maintain their lives and livelihood in their ancestral homeland. The Azerbaijani aggression that unfolded with explicit barbarity and deliberate targeting of civilian populations and infrastructure was the final act of this tragedy aimed at the forced exodus of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.
- When the International Court of Justice on February 22 and July 6, 2023, adopted legally binding orders and they were disrespected by Azerbaijan- this Council as an august body meant to ensure the implementation of ICJ orders failed to react adequately,
- When Azerbaijan blocked the Lachin cCorridor and we called for urgent meeting of the UNSC in December 2022 – this Council failed to react adequately,
- When in April Azerbaijan installed illegal check-point in the Lachin cCorridor and later started to kidnap people, including ones under the protection of international humanitarian law,- international community failed to undertake adequate measures,
- When Armenia called again for another UNSC urgent session in August 2023 – warning about the fragile security and humanitarian situation and calling the Council to use its toolbox to address all the issues and not let people of Nagorno-Karabakh behind, this Council failed to react adequately,
During the days prior to September 19’s Azerbaijani aggression when Armenia was raising alarm about feasible use of force by Azerbaijan and seeking for concrete measures and actions to prevent this scenario – international community reacted to our warning with skepticism.
Now when Azerbaijan has already restarted to use force against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, when these this people are forcefully deported from their houses and are at danger to be forcefully deported from their homeland, when many who have been defending their families and their right to live in freedom and dignity in their homeland for the last 30 years are at danger of mass arrests and prosecution, when we have a situation where there is not an intent any more, but clear and irrefutable evidences of policy of ethnic cleansing and mass atrocities – the Security Council of the United Nations must act.
Despite accepting all demands of the Azerbaijani side in order to stop the bloodshed and ongoing talks today, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh were again subjected to attacks using different caliber weapons and mortars, thus forcing the civilians once again to seek shelter in the basements. We believe such attacks and further persecutions will continue unless there is a clear international action.
By the way, regarding the mentioned demands, I would like to state very clearly and unequivocally that the Republic of Armenia was not part of those discussions and we resolutely reiterate that the claims and references to the presence of any military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh do not correspond to reality.
In this attempt we clearly see the intention of some actors to involve the Republic of Armenia in military actions thus transferring the hostilities into our sovereign territories. The position of Armenia firmly remains the same: we should establish peaceful relations based on mutual recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity, which certainly cannot be anyhow misinterpreted and used as a license for mass atrocities, including ethnic cleansings in Nagorno-Karabakh. The rights and security of the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh must be properly addressed and internationally guaranteed.
There is also another very important aspect regarding the parties involved. As I noted some of you in your statements still make general calls to the sides of conflict. This approach and this terminology are not relevant any more. There are no more sides of the conflict but perpetrators and victims. There is no more conflict but a real danger of atrocity crime. Is it still possible to prevent it now? We are here because we believe so. Because we still believe in humanity, in international law and in the ability of the Security Council to act decisively when lives of thousands are at stake.
Against this backdrop, time and again, I appeal to the Security Council to demonstrate its credibility and reputation by undertaking the following urgent measures:
- To condemn the resumption of hostilities and targeting of civilian settlements and infrastructure,
- To demand full compliance with obligations under the international humanitarian law, including those related to the protection of civilians, in particular women and children, and critical civilian infrastructure;
- To immediately deploy an interagency mission by the UN to Nagorno-Karabakh with the aim to monitor and assess the human rights, humanitarian and security situation.
- To ensure unimpeded access of the UN agencies and other international organizations to Nagorno-Karabakh in line with the humanitarian principles.
- To ensure full cooperation of the parties in good faith with the International Committee of the Red Cross to address the consequences of the military actions, including the removal and identification of the bodies, search and rescue of personnel missing in action, release of POWs, safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance, in strict compliance with the international humanitarian law.
- To ensure the return of persons displaced in the course of the recent aggression, as well as persons and refugees displaced as a result of 2020 war, to their homes in the territory of Nagorno- Karabakh and adjacent regions under the monitoring and control of the UN relevant agencies, as it was foreseen in the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020.
- To ensure immediate restoration of vital supplies, including food, medicine, fuel, gas and electricity.
- To demand the immediate restoration of freedom and security of movement of persons, vehicles and cargo, along the Lachin corridor, in line with the ICJ orders.
- To ensure a sustainable international mechanism of dialogue between representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh and official Baku to address the issues related to rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh.
- To demand exit of any Azerbaijani military and law-enforcement bodies from all civilian settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh NK to exclude panic, provocations and escalation, endangering civilian population until the results of the negotiations.
- To exclude punitive action against Nagorno-Karabakh NK political and military representatives and personnel.
- Create a possibility for a United Nations-mandated Peacekeeping Force to keep stability and security in Nagorno- Karabakh.
Let me mention that today we celebrate the Day of Independence of the Republic of Armenia and let me congratulate my compatriots on this very important and symbolic occasion.
And I thank you.”