The following is an interview with Seymur Mammadov, the Director of the International Expert Club EurAsiaAz and Editor-In-Chief of Azerbaijan News Agency Vzglyad.az;
– What scenarios for the development of the current escalation of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan do you predict?
– First of all, I would like to note that the negotiation process on Karabakh was actually frozen and thwarted through the fault of the Armenian side. For a long time Azerbaijan tried to resolve the conflict peacefully, called on Armenia to conduct substantive negotiations, and the Armenian leadership, instead of sitting down at the negotiating table and resolving the Karabakh issue in accordance with UN resolutions, as it should be, according to international law, took a completely different path. – drew Baku into provocations, made anti-Azerbaijani militant rhetoric. The last military provocation of Armenia was committed on September 27, which forced Azerbaijan to respond – to start a counter-offensive operation and now military operations are being conducted practically along the entire front. It is important to note here that military operations are being carried out on the territory of Azerbaijan – the regions around Nagorno-Karabakh, which were occupied by the Armenian Armed Forces in the 90s. Look, for almost 30 years the Azerbaijani lands have been under the occupation of Armenia. The OSCE Minsk Group failed to cope with its task, did not force Armenia to comply with the four UN resolutions on Karabakh, which require the immediate withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied regions, the liberation of Azerbaijani lands from occupation and the return of internally displaced persons to their homes. Armenians did not live in 7 regions of Azerbaijan around Nagorno-Karabakh, historically these and the lands of Karabakh belong to Azerbaijan. What are the Armenian soldiers doing in the Azerbaijani territories? The Armenian leadership is to blame for what is happening in Karabakh today, which refused to conduct peace negotiations. Believe me, this is no longer the April war of 2016, this is a real big war and it will not end soon, since martial law and mobilization have been declared on both sides. This has not happened since the beginning of the Karabakh war in the 90s. Everything is very serious and I am sure that Azerbaijan will not back down under pressure from third countries. Because this is his right, international law is on the side of Azerbaijan. The territories where the battles are being fought have nothing to do with the lands of Armenia.
My forecast is that Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, seeing the difficult situation at the front, will have to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin for Moscow to provide assistance in holding negotiations with the Azerbaijani side. Because the balance in the conflict zone is leaning in favor of Baku, as a result, 7 villages of the Fizuli and Jabrayil regions have been liberated, the strategic heights on the Murovdag ridge have been occupied, and at present, the fighting continues for the liberation of the rest of Azerbaijani territory. I think that as a result of the negotiations that will take place after the end of hostilities, Armenia will be forced to return to Azerbaijan the occupied regions around Karabakh, and later on Nagorno-Karabakh. Since the territory of Karabakh must return to the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan. This scenario of the development of events, it seems to me, is the most probable.
– How is it possible to minimize the risks of the status quo around Karabakh?
– For about 30 years, the status quo around Karabakh has remained unchanged. Armenia is interested in maintaining this status quo, but not Azerbaijan. In the OSCE Minsk Group member states – Russia, the United States and France, the Armenian lobby and the diaspora are very strong and active, which indirectly influenced the course of the negotiations on Karabakh. In order to minimize the risks of the status quo, it is necessary to resolve the Karabakh issue within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the patience of the Azerbaijani side is already overflowing. We waited for quite a long time, with the hope that the Armenian side would start substantive negotiations, that the OSCE Minsk Group would oblige Yerevan to implement the UN revolution, but this did not happen. The only solution to the Karabakh problem is the liberation of all the occupied regions of Azerbaijan in accordance with UN resolutions. If the Armenian side wants peace and stability in the region, let it return what belongs by right to Azerbaijan. Until we see substantive negotiations on Karabakh, the return of the occupied regions to Azerbaijan, military clashes will occur constantly. Prime Minister Pashinyan should sit down at the negotiating table and begin substantive negotiations with Baku, which should imply the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied regions of Azerbaijan and their liberation from Armenian occupation.
– What is the role of Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
– Turkey plays a stabilizing role in the region and provides us with only moral support. Turkey does not take part in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh. Yerevan is trying to present to the world community that Turkey allegedly participates in hostilities on the side of Azerbaijan, but this is disinformation that is purposefully spread by the Armenian media. They also reported that a Turkish F-16 fighter allegedly shot down an Armenian SU-25 aircraft, but in reality this is a fake. The main goal of Armenia is to involve Russia and the CSTO in the Karabakh conflict. The war is going on between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia and Turkey do not participate in hostilities in Karabakh.
– What was the reaction of the international community to the war in Karabakh?
– UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to immediately end hostilities and de-escalate the situation in the region. Russia and Iran also act from the UN positions. Turkey and Pakistan strongly support Azerbaijan in the war against Armenia. I am grateful to our fraternal countries for moral support. International law is on the side of Azerbaijan. We do not claim foreign lands, we just want Armenia to return our territories. The UN Security Council must ensure the implementation of its four resolutions on Karabakh. This is the only way to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.