Croatia’s demining experience useful to Azerbaijan, says Bayramov

Croatia’s experience, expertise and support in demining is useful to Azerbaijan, its Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said in Zagreb on Wednesday.

Former Soviet states Azerbaijan and Armenia waged two wars in 30 years for Nagorno-Karabakh, a region recognised as part of Azerbaijan but mainly populated by ethnic Armenians. During a six-month conflict in 2020, Azerbaijan restored the territories it lost in an earlier war in the region following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

The liberated territories are “polluted with mines,” Bayramov told a joint news conference with Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic Radman. “The experience, expertise and support from Croatia in demining, reconstruction and reintegration are very useful.”

Grlic Radman said the EU “is investing efforts at the highest level aimed at contributing to normalisation of Azerbaijan-Armenia relations.” A peace agreement between those two countries “is the prerequisite for the prosperity and stability of the South Caucasus,” he added.

“As a country which also went through a war, from aggression to peaceful reintegration, Croatia emphasises the immense importance of dialogue between all actors aimed at strengthening trust and seeking modalities of co-existence,” the Croatian minister said.

The Azerbaijan-Armenia tensions are also due to Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. There is fear of a humanitarian crisis.

Grlic Radman said he hoped a solution to that problem would be found soon “so as to improve the living conditions of the local population.”

Bayramov called out Armenia for occasional tensions and accused it of deceiving the international community. “Unfortunately, Armenia is still not showing good will and refuses to take a constructive position. The Armenian side is playing a game of postponement and confusion… This game results in regular armed provocations on the ground.”

“As victims of armed conflicts, both Azerbaijan and Croatia attach great importance to safeguarding international law as the fundamental framework for global peace and security,” he said.

The two ministers signed a memorandum of cooperation between the ministries’ diplomatic academies.

Both agree that bilateral relations are increasingly good, as indicated by frequent high-level meetings which will continue, Grlic Radman said, with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic’s trip to Azerbaijan.