Azerbaijani Parliament Speaker Sahiba Gafarova has criticized her French counterpart Gerard Larcher’s biased and one-sided statements recently made in Armenia, Azertag reported on April 24.
Gafarova reiterated that the French Senate speaker’s statements completely run counter to commitments that France had undertaken as an OSCE Minsk Group co-chairman.
“To put it simply, the fact that the Senate chairman spoke about the erasure of ‘traces of Armenian culture’ in Turkey and ‘artsakh’ based on what he saw at an exhibition in Yerevan is far from political seriousness,” she said.
Gafarova noted that in his statements, the Senate chairman, on the one hand, called for the revival of the Minsk Group to give a new impetus to its work, on the other hand, displayed an open pro-Armenian and anti-Azerbaijani, anti-Turkish position, the report added.
She stressed that if the French Senate chairman really wanted to be impartial and fair, he would have visited not only Armenia but also the region and Azerbaijan. He would have witnessed with his own eyes the vandalism and barbarism committed by Armenia for 30 years on Azerbaijan’s newly liberated territories and the city of Aghdam, now called the “Hiroshima of the Caucasus”.
She said that such a visit would give the French counterpart an opportunity to witness the respect shown to the religion, culture, and history of other peoples in Azerbaijan.
“First of all, he would have witnessed the respect for the religion and culture of the Armenian people and the Armenian Church, which still exists in Baku’s centre. This would allow him to make comparisons with regard to the destruction of religious and cultural monuments on Azerbaijan’s territories by Armenia during the 30-year occupation, and the keeping of cows and pigs in our mosques. However, I regret that instead of taking such a step, my French counterpart preferred to take a biased and one-sided position,” Gafarova said.
She also commented on the French Speaker’s views alleging the detention of Armenian prisoners of war by Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that a saboteur groups sent to Azerbaijani territories after the November 10 statement are not prisoners of war and they cannot be assessed this way. This is not only what we say, but also how international law describes this issue. Therefore, we do not accept the accusations made against Azerbaijan by the chairman of the French Senate in this context,” Gafarova said.
She urged Larcher to pay attention to the issue of mined areas that killed and wounded civilians and the military.
“It would be good if the chairman of the Senate, acting through the prism of France’s OSCE Minsk Group chairmanship would force Armenia to provide maps of the mined areas. This way, it would support the world community’s calls to Armenia in this field,” the parliament speaker said.
Some 21 Azerbaijani citizens, including 14 civilians were killed and 87 citizens, 16 civilians were injured in mine explosions in liberated lands since the signing of the Karabakh peace deal on November 10, 2020.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on February 26 and April 20 described Armenia’s failure to provide the mine maps as the main difficulty for Azerbaijani IPDs to return to their homes. He said that this is yet another war crime by Armenia as several servicemen and civilians were killed in mine blasts on the liberated territories after the war.
Earlier, Azerbaijan handed over more than 70 prisoners of war to Armenia, and Armenia returned 12 prisoners of war. Some 62 Armenians from Armenia’s Shirak region deployed on Azerbaijani territories in Karabakh on November 26 in breach of the Karabakh peace deal are not regarded as POWs. It was established the saboteur group killed four Azerbaijani servicemen and injured one civilian.
By Vafa Ismayilova