Azerbaijan, on Tuesday, strongly condemned the Armenian Defence Minister’s “unauthorised” visit to Azerbaijani territory, terming it a “military-political provocation.”
“Armenian Defence Minister, Arshak Karapetyan, illegally visited the territory of Azerbaijan, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily deployed,” the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Karapetyan’s visit was “deliberately held” ahead of the anniversary of the trilateral agreement signed by Azerbaijan, Russia, and Armenia on 10 November last year, the ministry said.
His “unauthorised entry … into the territory of Azerbaijan, holding meetings with illegal Armenian formations, and expressing views on their combat readiness is a military-political provocation,” it added.
“The political and military leadership of Armenia, grossly violating the provisions of the trilateral statement, attempts to destabilise the situation in the region and overshadow the activities of Russian peacekeepers,” read the statement.
“Instead of drawing conclusions from the complete defeat in the 44-day war in Karabakh, adapting to the new geopolitical situation in the region and strengthening peace and security, the military leadership of Armenia tries bad military adventurism.”
The ministry said Karapetyan’s visit “once again demonstrates that Armenia continues to directly support irregular Armenian military units, aggressive separatism and terrorist acts on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan.”
It warned that Azerbaijan will take “necessary measures … to prevent aggressive separatism and terrorist acts” if Armenia fails to cease such actions.
Conflict between Azerbaijan, Armenia
Relations between the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Upper Karabakh, a territory internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted on 27 September last year, with the Armenian army attacking civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violating several humanitarian cease-fire agreements.
During the 44-day military conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and some 300 settlements and villages that were occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
Prior to this, about 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory was under illegal occupation.
The two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement on 10 November to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.
The cease-fire was seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose forces withdrew in line with the agreement.
On 11 January this year, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region. The deal also included the establishment of a trilateral working group on Karabakh.