BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:20 P.M.) – Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Tuesday that he wants Armenia to pay compensation to his country for the damage done to properties during the handover of the Kalbajar District.
During his visit to the city to Jebrayil in southern Karabakh, Aliyev vowed to make Armenia pay for the damaged buildings, some of which were set on fire by the people who were leaving their homes before the Azerbaijani forces entered the area.
“We are in the center of Jebrayil. Not a single undamaged building, not a single one! Only a military unit was built and the rest of the infrastructure – houses, buildings and schools – were destroyed,” Aliyev said, pledging that Armenia “would answer for all that in international courts.”
“International experts will be invited and the damage has been calculated, we will demand compensation,” the Azerbaijani president said, stressing that Armenia would answer for “the burnt houses and schools in Kalbajar and the cut wood.”
The Kalbajar district is the first of three territories, which will be switched under Baku’s control in accordance with a joint statement of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, which put an end to the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh. The district should be fully handed over to Azerbaijan by November 25. Besides, Baku will assume control of the Agdamsky district and the Lachinsky district by November 20 and December 1, respectively.
However, despite Aliyev’s claims, many of the homes and buildings damaged in the Karabakh towns handed over to Azerbaijan were previously targeted by the latter during their military operations in the southern part of this disputed region.
The Azerbaijani military’s attacks prompted the mass displacement of Armenian civilians in Karabakh, including cities like Shushi and Jabrayil, before the November 9th ceasefire agreement, which favored Baku.
The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs – Russia, France and the United States.