22 years have passed since the occupation of Kelbajar district of the Republic of Azerbaijan by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia.
With its magnificent nature, rich forests, more than 4 thousand kinds of plants, which 200 of them are used for treatment purposes and 30 thousand springs Kelbajar can be named as the heaven of Azerbaijan. Yukhari Istisu, Ashagi Istisu, Keshdek, Garasu, Mozchay, Bagirsag, Gotursu treatment zones with mineral water fields gave particular popularity to Kelbajar. One of the gifts of the nature to Kelbajar is mineral treatment zone of Istisu. With 58,8 °C temperature 1 litre of Istisu waters contains minerals such as lithium, bromine, iodine, arsenic, phosphorus, zink, med, nickel, magnesium, iron, weighing 6,7 grams. The Water of Istisu is hyperthermal, carbonic and there are substances such as hydrocarbon-chloride-sulphate-natrium in it. According to statistics, each year 3 bln 963 mln litres of water come out from Istisu springs.
Like a number of other regions of Azerbaijan, Kelbajar also suffered from the Republic of Armenia’s insidious, destructive policy of annexation and ethnic cleansing. Launching large-scale military hostilities on March, 1993, the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia occupied Kelbajar district of Azerbaijan on April 2, 1993. As a result of the acts of violence and ethnic cleansing carried out by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia in the course of this occupation, more than 54 thousand people were displaced, 321 were held hostages, 511 were brutally killed, 97 schools, 9 kindergartens, 116 libraries, 43 clubs, 42 cultural centers, Museum of history, 9 hospitals, 75 medical stations, 23 ambulatories, 9 chemist’s, hundreds of administrative buildings, thousands of flats, 100 thousand cattle, 500 thousand sheep, hundreds of cars and machines were ravaged and billions of wealth (including rich gold deposits) of the region were carried to Armenia.
In order to remove the historical traces of Azerbaijani people from Kelbajar, the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia destroyed a great number of cultural and historical institutions in the town, including an Albanian temple in Vang village, an Albanian church in Cherekdar, Lok fortress in Ganlikend, Ulukhan fortress in Garajanli, an Albanian church on Tartar River, the fortresses of Galaboynu, Jomerd, Keshikchi, mosques in the town of Kelbajar and Otagli village, Taglidash Bridge over the Tartar River, a museum of history and ethnography, Ashig Shamshir Cultural House, and Seyid Asadullah shrine in Soyudly summer field of Kelbajar region were destroyed.
It is essential to recall that, in its presidential note dated 6 April 1993, the UN Security Council for the first time expressed “its serious concern at the deterioration of relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan”, specifically referring to “the invasion of the Kelbajar district of the Republic of Azerbaijan”, demanding the immediate cessation of all hostilities and the withdrawal of forces and “reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States of the region and the inviolability of their borders”. In his report dated 14 April 1993, submitted in accordance with request of the Security Council, the UN Secretary-General stated that “the intensification of fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, especially the recent attacks against the Kelbajar and Fuzuli districts of Azerbaijan, poses a serious threat to the maintenance of international peace and security in the entire Transcaucasus region”. In response to Armenia’s assertion that “no military forces from the Republic of Armenia were involved in the hostilities in the Kelbajar district”, the Secretary-General made it clear that “reports of the use of heavy weaponry, such as T-72 tanks, Mi-24 helicopter gunships and advanced fixed wing aircraft are particularly disturbing and would seem to indicate the involvement of more than local ethnic forces”.
In that connection, in its resolution 822 adopted on 30 April 1993, the UN Security Council reaffirmed the principle of “the inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory” applied to inter-State relations, demanding “the immediate cessation of all hostilities and hostile acts with a view to establishing a durable ceasefire, as well as immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kelbajar district and other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan”. In their statements following the voting, several Council members made the Armenian side responsible for the escalation in armed hostilities and obstructing the peace initiatives. Thus, the representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland drew attention to the fact that “the latest offensive has again coincided with renewed attempts within the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to get talks re-started” and to “... an unwillingness to make any efforts to compromise”.
However, the afore-mentioned UN documents remain unimplemented by the Republic of Armenia.
The Republic of Azerbaijan is confident that for the purposes of lasting peace, security and stability in the South Caucasus, there is no alternative other than by concerted efforts of the international community to convince the Republic of Armenia to put an end to the illegal occupation of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, to ensure that inalienable rights of Azerbaijani internally displaced persons to return to their places of origin is fully recognized and implemented.