Azerbaijani government – victim of ongoing smear campaign, ambassador says

The Azerbaijani government is the victim of an ongoing smear campaign promoted by its rivals in the region, including Armenia, Elin Suleymanov, Azerbaijani ambassador to the US, said in an interview with The Washington Times.

Suleymanov said that the recent escalation of violence has been observed on the line of contact of Azerbaijani and Armenian troops.

"The recent reaction to the positive visit by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Washington D.C., shows that we have our share of enemies and ill-wishers," the ambassador said.

"So don't be surprised that we receive such heavy criticism," the diplomat said. "We are not against criticism if it is constructive."

On the night of April 2, 2016, all the frontier positions of Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy fire from the Armenian side, which used large-caliber weapons, mortars and grenade launchers. The armed clashes resulted in deaths and injuries among the Azerbaijani population. Azerbaijan responded with a counter-attack, which led to liberation of several strategic heights and settlements.

Military operations were stopped on the line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian armies on Apr. 5 at 12:00 (UTC/GMT + 4 hours) with the consent of the sides, Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry earlier said. Ignoring the agreement, the Armenian side again started violating the ceasefire.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.

Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.

Source: Trend