Azeris yearn for home – Armenia military occupation

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SHAFAQNA – A Turkish official has called on the Muslim countries to pay more attention to the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Cemil Cicek, Speaker of Turkish Parliament said all Muslim countries should focus on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict emerged in 1988 over Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan, Turkish media reported.

Cicek said Turkey has supported and will always support Azerbaijan.

In Noting that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the problems in the South Caucasus that should be resolved, Cicek blamed the international community for indifference in this issue.

The precarious cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia was reached after a lengthy war that displaced over a million Azerbaijanis and has been in place between the two South Caucasus countries since 1994. Since the hostilities, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenia’s withdrawal from the Azerbaijani territory, but they have not been enforced to this day.

It is often referred to as a “frozen” conflict, but military and civilian casualties are frequently reported. For many people, living in the conflict zone has changed their lives dramatically. Walk into any house in this village and people will show cracks in their buildings which, they say, come from nearby explosions of Armenian ordnance, or bullet holes in their walls.

Many Azeris dreams of going back to their home, with those living in Azerbaijan having one of the highest rates of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the world.

New housing complexes have been built for families displaced by the conflict, especially as many of the buildings have been living in Soviet-era buildings and tent cities  which have no running water.

New apartment blocks give a sense of permanence to the status quo. But anyone in the street will tell you that they still dream of going home.

“As much as the houses are nice, all we want is to go back to our land as soon as possible,” says Naringul Guliyeva, who takes her grandson to the nearby school – here the children learn about the 7 different regions occupied by Armenia.

Tensions escalated last summer, with fighting on both sides. In November, Azeri forces downed an Armenian helicopter in which three servicemen were killed. Armenian authorities said they were on an unarmed mission, and have promised to retaliate however Azerbaijan’s Deputy Defence Minister, Lt Gen Kerim Veliyev said that “Two enemy helicopters attacked our positions. As a result one of the helicopters was shot down,”

Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles, although the talks have not produced any results. In the meantime, oil-rich Azerbaijan has been spending heavily to boost its military capability.

The country’s annual defence budget stands at $3.7bn (£2.5bn). Armenia’s defence budget was $447m in 2013.

Missing Persons Data Exchange

In the meantime, Armenian Deputy Defense Minister David Tonosyan said at a meeting with the Sarah Epprecht, the head of the IRCC office in Armenia, that Armenia wanted to exchange data missing persons with Azerbaijan, according to the international humanitarian law.

According to RIA Novosti reports, the sides discussed the ways to exchange the data about persons missing in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Epprecht emphases that the IRCC was an impartial and independent organization and was keen to learn about the fates of about 4,500 people missing in the conflict.

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