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Illegal settlement in the occupied territories


After the cease-fire and termination of hostilities Armenia started to implement the policy of artificially changing the demographic structure in the Armenian-occupied territories of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Garabagh and the surrounding regions adjacent to it. For this purpose, the illegal settlement of Armenians in the occupied territories was carried out, and the process still continues. According to variety of sources, including, Armenian sources and confirmed reports of the OSCE mission, since the mid 90-es of the last century until 2012, 25-27 thousand Armenians moved to Nagorno-Garabagh and other occupied territories. This resettlement policy is supported and funded by the Government of Armenia, the Armenian Diaspora in abroad. Resettling in the occupied territories is contrary to the Fourth Geneva Convention dated 12 August 1949 and its Additional Protocols relating to the Protection of the civilian population during the war, joined by Armenia in 1993. 

Illegal settlement has become massive in the mid-90s
The process of illegal settlement became particularly widespread in the mid-90s of last century. The Government of Armenia resettled Armenians once moved from Baku and other parts of Azerbaijan as well as  implemented  a special program for the resettlement of the Armenians  from countries in the Middle East and other foreign countries in these occupied territories. According to advisor to former President Levon Ter-Petrosian of Armenia Levon Zurabyan just in 1998 the number of Armenians settled in Lachin region was over 15 thousand. The government of Armenia provided Armenians settled in the Nagorno-Garabagh and other occupied territories with financial assistance, cattle. The special funds allocated from state budget of Armenia for resettlement purposes in the occupied territories.

Official Baku’s protests and the first international mission
Since 2004, a number of projects resolution on "The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan" has been included in the agenda at the annual sessions of the UN General Assembly for the first time, the Special Commission of the OSCE with mission of regulation of the conflict  to investigate these matters was set up  for discussion the matter of illegal settlement in the occupied territories, illegal economic activity, the destruction of historical and cultural monuments, and other activities related to the settlement. The organization of mission was arranged within the discussion of Clause 163 “The situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan" included at the agenda of the 59th session of the UN General Assembly.

Composition of the Fact Finding Mission of the OSCE In 2005
The composition of Fact-Finding Mission (OSCE Minsk Group Fact-Finding Mission) of OSCE Minsk Group, set based on agreement of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Azerbaijan, includes experts from countries-co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - United States, France and Russia, as well as the Minsk Group countries, Germany, Italy, Finland and experts from Sweden. Andrzej Kasprzyk, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in mission and the OSCE Secretariat representatives also attended the meeting. Fact-finding mission of the OSCE Minsk Group conducted observations in the 7 occupied regions surrounding the Nagorno-Garabagh region from January 31 to 6 February 200. The mission submitted the report on situation in occupied Azerbaijani territories in March 2005 to the OSCE Viena Secretariat, and parties of the conflict. 

The mission confirmed the mass illegal settlement 
The report of the OSCE Fact-Finding Mission confirms the concerns expressed once by Azerbaijan about carrying out illegal settlement by Armenia in the occupied territories. The mission determined by visual assessment of the number of Armenians settled in the occupied territories and the resulting figures are quite close to the figures released earlier by Azerbaijan. The mission found that the number of Armenians resettled in the occupied territories is than 17 thousands. Before the mission’s inspection Azerbaijan stated that this figure is between 20-23 thousands. The Fact-Finding Mission of the OSCE defined in that report that 8-11 thousand Armenians were resettled in Lachin region. According to information of Azerbaijan this figure is more than 13. Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry said that the confirming by the mission of resettlement of population in the organized form in Lachin region is a matter of concern. Thus, in general, previously no Armenians lived in these areas.
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry stated that sending of the OSCE mission to the region was made possible thanks to the principled position of the UN General Assembly. The statement noted that the mission has been carried out for the first time since occupation of Azerbaijani territories and adoption of relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council on the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, along with the Fact-Finding Mission's report, released a letter, too. In the letter the co-chairs addressed with demands of the suspension of settlement of Armenians in the occupied territories, putting an end on changing of the demographic structure of the region and asked donor countries to assist in the return of that people to Armenia. The co-chairs noted particularly that remaining of in this situation for a long time complicates the peace process seriously.

Organization of the OSCE Field Assessment Mission in 2010
In September 2010, during the annual session of the UN General Assembly the draft resolution on the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan once again put for a discussion. Taking into account the great possibility of passing the resolution by vote Armenia agreed on visit of    Field Assessment Mission with broader mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group to investigate situation in the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Field Assessment Mission of the OSCE Minsk Group set same year visited the occupied territories on the vicinity of the Nagorno-Garabagh in order to assess the overall situation in the area on Oct 7-12, 2010.

The second international mission has confirmed the continuation of the settlement policy
Field Assessment Mission once again had revealed continuation of resettlement policy at the occupied territories of Azerbaijan by Armenians, as well as the implementation of infrastructure changes and economic activity. Based on a visual assessment and the information provided by the local population, the number of Armenians settled illegally in Azerbaijan's occupied seven regions was indicated by the mission as about 14 thousand people. Part of the migrants live in restored and newly built homes.

The facts from the Armenian sources
In Armenian sources, in the statements of Armenian authorities the facts on illegal settlement in the occupied are met regularly. For example, in April 2012 the Armenian "Panarmenian» agency disseminated the information referring to member of so-called Nagorno-Garabagh's "government"  Narine Astchatryan that more than 600 Armenian families were resettled in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan in the last five years. The majority of those families was settled in the vicinity of the contact line of troops.
Only in 2010, 199 Armenian families (616 people) were resettled in Lachin region of Azerbaijan being under occupation. In the first months of 2011, more than 50 families were settled in Lachin, too. By the end of 2011, resettling of total 300 families is planned in Lachin region. Officials of the illegal regime in Nagorno-Garabagh said that the privileged loans, construction materials, as well as transportation vehicles for moving are provided to those agreed to settle in the area. U.S. $2700 of privileged loans were allotted by"Artsakh" Fund operating in Lebanon to each Armenian family settled in Lachin for agricultural purposes. 

The process of resettling of Syrian Armenians in Garabagh 
In 2012, in connection with the conflict in Syria the active campaign began for settlement of the Armenians leaving this country in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The Cabinet of Ministers of Armenia held a closed session for discussion of this issue. According to the information by the end of August of 2012, already 15 Syrian Armenian families were settled in occupied Lachin, and 1 family in Kalbajar region.
Hence Armenia's efforts to change the demographic structure artificially in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan further complicate the negotiation process concerning the Nagorno-Garabagh conflict. The illegal settlement is not limited just with administrative boundaries of the Nagorno-Garabagh but covers the surrounding regions under occupation and it shows once more policy of illegal settlement of Armenia. 

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