Armenia exercises overall effective control of Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories, whether directly by its own armed forces or indirectly through a subordinate separatist regime which survives by virtue of its military and other support.
Taking advantage of the favorable results of military actions, Armenia is trying to consolidate the current status quo and impose finally a fait accompli situation through measures aimed at preventing the expelled Azerbaijani population from returning to their places of origin. Such measures include, inter alia, continuing illegal settlement practices and economic activities in the occupied territories accompanied by serious and systematic interference with property rights.
Sources, including Armenian ones, report on tens of thousand settlers who moved into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, including districts adjacent to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, including Lachyn, Kalbajar, Zangilan and Jabrayil. Armenia intends to increase the Armenian population on the occupied territories from currently reported 143,000 to 300,000 by year 2010. Facts testify that this is being done in an organized manner with the purpose of annexation of these territories.
Highly alarmed by the far-reaching implications of this activity, Azerbaijan has requested to address the situation in its occupied territories within the UN General Assembly. This initiative proceeded from the strong believe that the only way for reaching a just, complete and comprehensive settlement of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is an approach based on the full and unequivocal respect for the letter and spirit of international law.
On 29 October 2004, the UN General Assembly decided to include the item entitled “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” to the agenda of its 59th session. On 11 November 2004, a report on the transfer of population into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan (A/59/568) was submitted to the UN General Assembly. The UN General Assembly’s consideration of this agenda item played a crucial role in attracting attention to the issue of the illegal transfer of settlers into the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, as well as in initiating urgent measures for putting this dangerous practice to an end.
A visit to the occupied territories of the OSCE Fact-Finding Mission from 30 January–5 February 2005 became a logical result of Azerbaijan’s initiative to raise the issue on the situation in its occupied territories into the agenda of the 59th session of the UN General Assembly. The main outcome of the mission’s activity was the report based on comprehensive facts, both provided by the Azerbaijan side and obtained during studying the situation on the ground. The mission clearly confirmed installation of settlements in the occupied territories, thus having shared the concerns of Azerbaijan. In their turn, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen, proceeding from the conclusions contained in the Mission’s report, emphasized inadmissibility of changes in the demographic composition of the region and urged appropriate international agencies to conduct needs assessment for resettlement of the population located in the occupied territories and return of the internally displaced persons to their places of permanent residence. The report and recommendations of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen that were based on it, laid down a basis for further consideration and resolution of the problem.
Issue of the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan has been also included into the agenda of the subsequent sessions of the UN General Assembly.
On 7 September 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/60/285 entitled “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan” proposed by Azerbaijan in regard to the incidents of massive fires taken place in the occupied territories.
The resolution of the UN General Assembly stressed the necessity of the urgent conduct of the environmental operation, called for assessment of the short-term and long-term impact of the fires on the environment of the region and its rehabilitation. For these purposes, the resolution emphasized the readiness of the parties to cooperate and called upon the organizations and programs of the United Nations system, in particular the United Nations Environment Program to cooperate with the OSCE.
The OSCE Fact-Finding Mission carried out from 4 to 12 October 2006 assessed the short-term and long-term impact of the fires on the environment in the affected territories and confirmed, inter alia, that “the fires resulted in environmental and economic damages and threatened human health and security”.
On 14 March 2008, the UN General Assembly adopted at its 62nd session resolution A/RES/62/244 on the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Seriously concerned that the armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan continued to endanger international peace and security, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed its continued strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable right of the population expelled from the occupied territories to return to their homes. It has been also recognized the necessity of providing normal, secure, and equal conditions of life for Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which would allow to build up an effective democratic system of self-governance in this region within the Republic of Azerbaijan. The General Assembly also reaffirmed that no State shall recognize as lawful the situation resulting from the occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, nor render aid or assistance in maintaining this situation.
Against this background, as in many other cases of belligerent occupation, Armenia tries to disguise its own role in regard to what is happening in reality in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and overall camouflage its annexation policy by holding in the occupied territories of various kinds of “elections” and “referenda”. The most recent examples include holding of so-called “constitutional referendum” and “presidential elections” on 10 December 2006 and 19 July 2007 respectively. The international community expressed its principled and unequivocal position with regard to these illegal exercises and their negative impact on the ongoing peace process, as well as reaffirmed its respect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.