To the editor: Nagorno-Karabakh is not a disputed territory. It is an integral part of Azerbaijan, recognized as such by the international community. In the early 1990s, Armenia illegally invaded, occupied and ethnically cleansed 20% of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts, and expelled 800,000 Azerbaijanis from their ancestral lands. ("In the South Caucasus, the threat of war," editorial, Oct. 7)
The United Nations Security Council demanded that Armenian forces be withdrawn. Armenia refused to comply, and the U.N. did nothing to enforce its own resolutions. Thirty years and hundreds of peace negotiations later, Azerbaijan's territories are still under Armenia's illegal military occupation, and all those Azerbaijani civilians remain displaced.
Since Sept. 27, Armenia's armed forces have been shelling Azerbaijani civilians. As a result, at least 41 Azerbaijani civilians, including three children, have been killed. In response, Azerbaijan is defending itself.
For peace to materialize, Armenia needs to withdraw its armed forces from Azerbaijan's occupied territories, as demanded by the United Nations, which would allow Azerbaijanis forcibly displaced to return to their homes. Then, the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh will build together a peaceful and prosperous future together.
Armenians and Azerbaijanis have lived peacefully in Nagorno-Karabakh and other parts of Azerbaijan for many centuries. This is not a religious or an ethnic conflict.
Our call is for the U.S. and other powers to ensure respect for international law and convince Armenia to withdraw its forces from Azerbaijan’s occupied territories so that peace between our two nations can be restored.
Nasimi Aghayev, Los Angeles
The writer is the consul general of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles.
To the editor: It's very disheartening that your editorial portrays the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan as one between two equivalent actors and calls for both sides to stop.
Would we tell a rapist and his victim, who is fighting back the attempted rape, to both stop the fighting? As absurd and vile such a reaction would be, it’s the same in the case with this conflict.
When Azerbaijan's president has made statements suggesting that Armenia has no right to exist, it’s clear that Azerbaijan and Turkey are on the path to wipe Armenia off the map.
Artashes Bashmakian, Bellflower
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.