Khalaf Khalafov: Armenia encourages relocation of Syrian and Lebanese Armenians to occupied Azerbaijani territories
Solving the problems of refugees and internally displaced persons necessitates respect for territorial integrity of countries, ending double standards, and joint humanitarian efforts, said Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov.
These problems lead to transnational crime and illegal drug trafficking, said Khalafov addressing a meeting of the PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons in Baku March 15.
He noted that over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and IDPs as a result of Armenia’s military aggression.
“Despite the vast scale of the problem, the Azerbaijani government has achieved significant results in improving the people's social well-being, education, etc. Within the country and beyond, Azerbaijan provides assistance to refugees and displaced persons,” said Khalafov.
The Azerbaijani government has established a legislative system in this area, said the deputy minister, adding: “As a result, housing has improved and the poverty rate has declined. However, their problem will be fully resolved once the occupied lands have been liberated. In this regard, the government has prepared the Great Return Program.”
He pointed that the Azerbaijani government has already begun the restoration of the Jabrayil district’s Jojug Marjanli village, which was liberated from Armenian occupation last year.
Khalafov noted that the European Court of Human Rights in its judgment on the case of Chiragov and others called for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
"The PACE resolutions also express support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” he said.
Khalafov also touched upon illegal arms sale and drug trafficking in the occupied Azerbaijani territories.
“I also want to note that the occupied Azerbaijani lands have turned into a place of illegal sale of narcotic drugs and weapons. The fight against transnational crime and the illicit drug trafficking will not be effective unless the world community addresses this issue from a common position,” he added.
According to him, there is a double-standard approach, which hinders the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Khalafov stressed that Armenia is deliberately conducting a policy of relocation to Azerbaijani territories, in a bid to prevent the return of [Azerbaijani] IDPs to their native lands.
“Armenia has committed acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. In 1992, Armenia committed an act of genocide against civilians in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly. Although massacres in Khojaly have been recognized by several states as genocide, some countries still remain indifferent to this. It is unacceptable,” he said.
According to international law, Armenia's policy of illegal relocation is a war crime, he added.
"Armenia encourages the relocation of Armenians living in Syria and Lebanon to the occupied Azerbaijani territories. This action of Armenia should be given international assessment,” said Khalafov.
Khalafov expressed confidence that Azerbaijan will soon liberate its occupied lands and resolve the problem of refugees and internally displaced persons, urging the international community to support Azerbaijan in its just cause.
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