Azerbaijan offers normal life for Armenians in Karabakh and peace for Armenians in Armenia

03.08.23 14:00

The President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev gave an interview to the Euronews television channel in Shusha on July 22. The interview was broadcast by Euronews on August 2. In the interview, the Azerbaijani leader described in detail the situation in the region and the position of his country both in relations with Armenia and towards the Karabakh Armenians.


According to Ilham Aliyev, the signing of the November 10, 2020 declaration did not really ensure sustainable peace: "It was not a peace treaty. It was a declaration, de facto an act of surrender by Armenia. So we started to take some initiatives to find a final solution to our conflict with Armenia. We did it publicly and announced that we need to sign a peace treaty...". - Ilham Aliyev noted that the Azerbaijani side developed the principles of the peace agreement, which are well-known principles of international law, namely mutual recognition of territorial integrity, sovereignty, international borders, delimitation of borders, non-use of force or threat of force.


"My message to the Armenians in Armenia will be the following: we want peace with their state. We have no territorial claims against the Armenians, although before the war there were hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis living in Armenia, against whom full-scale ethnic cleansing was carried out, their cultural and religious heritage was completely destroyed. Nevertheless, we do not have any territorial claims. However, we believe that the Azerbaijanis who were forcibly deported from Armenia have the right to return there when Azerbaijan and Armenia normalize their relations and establish diplomatic ties". - stressed the Azerbaijani president.


And this will be fair. After all, how can one demand any special rights and even "status" for allegedly "120 thousand Karabakh Armenians" (of whom, in fact, not more than 30 thousand remained in Karabakh) and ignore the rights of at least 300-400 thousand Azerbaijanis expelled from the territory of the present-day Republic of Armenia and their descendants to live in the lands of their ancestors?


Especially since these Azerbaijanis do not demand any "status" from Armenia. They want only the most elementary thing - the opportunity to live in their native land.


Ilham Aliyev hopes that his country can find a peaceful solution and conclude a peace treaty with Armenia by the end of the year, but only on the basis of the recognition of the territorial integrity of the countries within the internationally recognized borders, as well as the unblocking of communications.


 "My message to the Armenians in Armenia: we want peace with your state... Another appeal is to clearly understand the current geopolitical situation and the balance of power. We do not want another war. Not today and not in the future," said the President of Azerbaijan.


Ilham Aliyev recalled that in accordance with the November 10, 2020 declaration, Armenia should ensure the connection of the main territory of Azerbaijan with Nakhchivan, but so far it has not done so.


"As a result of the Second Karabakh War, Armenia signed a commitment to give us access to our exclave - Nakhichevan. But this is still not happening" - noted the president of Azerbaijan.


And this, despite the fact that Azerbaijan, hoping for prudence on the Armenian side, for a long time allowed Armenia to use the Lachin road without any restrictions. But Armenia and the "Artsakh" separatists began to clearly abuse the goodwill of Azerbaijan.


"For more than two years after the end of the Second Karabakh War, the so-called Lachin Corridor functioned in the same way as during the occupation. The only difference is that it was under the control of Russian peacekeepers, which is stipulated by the Trilateral Declaration. There were no failures, no interference from our side. Meanwhile, the situation on the ground changed. The reason why representatives of the Azerbaijani civil society began to control the corridor was that in early November last year the illegal extraction of natural resources in Karabakh resumed. This activity was stopped after the war because it is illegal. These resources are ours. Several foreign companies illegally exploited our gold and copper deposits. During the occupation, we could not do anything about it. But when the war ended, it was obvious that these activities had to be stopped, and they were stopped. But then, in November, the work was resumed. Civil society representatives asked the Russian peacekeepers to allow them to monitor the fields, to see what was happening there. We saw that iron and gold ores were being transported by trucks from Karabakh to Armenia accompanied by Russian peacekeepers. They were not allowed to come and see what happened. That is how our civil society representatives began to exercise control. But, I repeat, the road was not closed. It remained absolutely open and the traffic on it was free," - said Ilham Aliyev. - Ilham Aliyev said.


"On April 23 - after we established a border post there - the situation on the Lachin-Khankendi road changed. Before that, we had two and a half years to reach a peaceful agreement. The only stumbling block was that Armenia did not want to officially recognize Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. Yes, they did it by verbal statements, which is also their position. But they have to put their signature on the document. I don't think that these two issues are connected, because I hope that the peace talks with Armenia will be successful. I hope it will happen in the next few months". - Ilham Aliyev stressed.


"As for the Karabakh Armenians, they should not follow their so-called leaders. Karabakh Armenians should realize that as a part of the Azerbaijani society, with security guarantees and rights, they will be able to live a normal life... We are offering them a normal life. And they know that I would not say it just like that," said President Ilham Aliyev in an interview with Euronews.


"The people living in Karabakh, in the territory now temporarily controlled by Russian peacekeepers, live in Azerbaijan. They have to choose whether to live as citizens of Azerbaijan, like any other ethnic minority that Azerbaijan is so rich in, or to leave here. That is their choice. Not because we want them to leave, and not because Armenia is accusing us of organized ethnic cleansing, no. We give them a choice. How else can they live on our territory, either as citizens of Armenia without any legal permission, or as citizens of the so-called "Nagorno-Karabakh Republic", which is not recognized by anyone! So, I think this is a legitimate approach, which is in accordance with the international practice. The practice that we see in many European countries, which are also fighting against separatism.


Now we see how Europe and the West have united to help Ukraine in the fight against separatism. So why is the fight against separatism treated differently in our case? "Ilham Aliyev said.


According to Ilham Aliyev, the Armenians of Karabakh should understand that as a part of the Azerbaijani society they will receive security guarantees and rights, including educational, cultural, religious and municipal rights.


 "Concerning the Armenians in Karabakh, I would like to remind you that we started contacting them immediately. They were mainly contacts between ordinary people when we started building the new Lachin road, which passed through several villages inhabited by Armenians. I was informed that contacts were established between our road builders and the Armenian community. They immediately became almost friends. During the first months of the construction, Russian peacekeepers provided security for both sides, but then they simply left - and it was easy to communicate without Russian peacekeepers. This shows that the majority of ordinary people do not have such hatred in their hearts," Ilham Aliyev noted. - Ilham Aliyev noted.


The Caucasus is one step closer to peace. But does Moscow want it? At first, the Kremlin artificially created separatist conflicts in order to maintain "imperial" influence in the post-Soviet space. But the times when it was possible to control the South Caucasus region through separatists are a thing of the past, as many authoritative publications such as EUReporter have noted.


"The only power for which the end of the conflict (between Azerbaijan and Armenia) means defeat and loss of influence in the region is Russia," EUReporter writes. The publication notes that the blocking of the Aghdam-Khankendi road, which the Azerbaijani side offered for the transportation of humanitarian aid to Karabakh Armenians, was an initiative of Kremlin protégé Vardanyan. "This only proves that the Kremlin is determined to destabilize the region despite the fact that the other two sides are actually striving for peace," the article stresses.


"Long-lasting peace in the region means opening new corridors to supply energy from Azerbaijan and transport goods from China and other Asian countries, bypassing Russia. This will put an end to the Kremlin's energy blackmail and make it cheaper to import goods to Europe. Active participation of the EU and the US in the negotiation process between Baku and Yerevan and stabilization of the situation in the region will deprive Moscow of its position in the South Caucasus. It will also contribute to the final reorientation of Armenia towards the West," EUReporte notes.


Peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Russia's withdrawal from Karabakh and the liquidation of the separatist project "Artsakh", which it supports, will inevitably raise the next issue - the liquidation of the Russian occupation of Georgian territory and two other separatist projects - Sukhumi and Tskhinvali. And the sooner the full integration of Karabakh and its Armenian population into Azerbaijan takes place, the sooner the de-occupation of Georgian Abkhazia and Samara will begin.




Alexander Zakhariadze

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