Official explanations by the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides
JAMnews reported on 4 July on tensions escalating yet again on the line of contact.
Today we present official explanations and comments with regard to yesterday’s developments, as usual, from both sides.
Reports from Azerbaijan
A farewell ceremony for Sahiba Guliyeva, 50, and her granddaughter, Zahra Guliyeva, 2, was held in Alkhanli village, Fizuli province, on 5 July.
A photo from the Guliyev family album
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reacted strongly to the reports on civilian casualties: “Killing an elderly woman and her 2-year-old granddaughter, wounding another civilian, as well as inflicting damage to civilian structures is nothing but an act of vandalism, which once again proves the terrorist-like nature of the Armenian state,” Hikmat Hajiyev, an Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told Azertag news agency.
“While the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs, who recently visited the region, as well as international organizations, call for changing the status quo of occupation by substantive and serious negotiations, Armenia resorts to base and nefarious provocations, aimed at the deliberate and targeted killing of civilians, including children,” said Hajiyev.
Many Azerbaijani media outlets have published a photo of the girl who was killed. Meanwhile, on social media, there have been calls for revenge and immediate retaliation. The mediatory activity of the OSCE Minsk Group has also been sharply criticized.
Some renowned political figures also joined the chorus of nationwide indignation. For example, Azerbaijan’s first President, Ayaz Mutallibov, told haqqin.az news agency as follows: “Solving international problems through diplomatic means is certainly good, but the Armenian side has left us with no option. It’s time for the international community to wake up and have a more realistic view of the situation. While the world keeps silent, the crimes of Sargsyan’s junta are getting more insidious and monstrous.”
Reports from Armenia
The Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Defense Ministry presented video material, recording the time when the Armenian side returned fire.
As was reported on 4 July, the Azerbaijani side opened fire with TR-107 reactive rocket propelled howitzers at about 08:20 p.m., while the Armenian side returned fire at 08:31 p.m., as the Karabakh Defense Ministry stressed in its official statement – ‘following the adversary’s continuous-firing attacks’.
In addition, the Karabakh Defense Ministry released an audio recording of the Azerbaijani commanders’ conversations, testifying to the fact that the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army took retaliatory measures targeting the Azerbaijani side’s firing point.
According to the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Ministry, the Azerbaijani side traditionally placed its fire points in the village, “thus turning the civilians into a human shield. The Artsakh Defense Army resorted to reciprocal measures, as a result of which the Azerbaijani side sustained losses.”
David Babayan, the Nagorno-Karabakh President’s Spokesperson, told Tert.am as follows: “There isn’t anything new in Azerbaijan’s behavior. It resorts to the same terrorist-like, inhumane actions that are beyond any reasonable evaluation. It also uses such kinds of weaponry which, in no way, changes the military-political balance in the region. This once again demonstrates that Azerbaijan is a terrorist country, a paranoiac. Azerbaijan has been retaliating disproportionately. And they have sustained losses, rather tangible losses.”
He also stressed that the underlying principle of the Armenian side’s military doctrine was active defense: “In other words, we will never act as an aggressor, but any form of aggression will be suppressed [reacted to – ed].”
According to Armenian media reports, the situation on the contact line on the night of 5 July was relatively peaceful, except for sniper fire, which has already become commonplace there.
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs released a statement in connection with the escalation of tension in Alkhanlu village, Fizuli Province, late on 4 July, ‘that resulted in casualties, including civilians.’
The Co-chairs once again called upon the sides to immediately cease military actions: “Violence only begets further violence and accomplishes nothing. The only responsible and humane way to resolve this long-standing conflict is for the sides to return to the negotiation table in good faith.”
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs also expressed condolences to the families of the victims.