Azay Guliyev explains why recent clashes at the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan must be taken seriously by the international community.
Azay Guliyev is a Member of Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Head of Delegation of Azerbaijan to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Vice-President of the OSCE PA.
On 12 July, the armed forces of Armenia launched provocative attack on Azerbaijan’s Tovuz region, state border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Since then, the Armenian side has been constantly attempting to further escalate the situation by continuously shelling both the military and civil objects, as a result of which 12 servicemen and one civilian have been killed.
Besides the fact that the recent skirmishes are the most violent clashes between the parties over the last four years, there are five sets of circumstances making it distinct from other such cases.
1) Establishment of the new conflict hotbed, making peace even more complicated and preserving status-quo.
The most important fact distinguishing this Armenian provocation from the numerous others over the last decades is that the Tovuz region of Azerbaijan is located far from the contact line – in the north-west of the country, a couple of hundred km away from the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
It is quite easy to see that by this, Armenia tries to widen the geography of clashes with Azerbaijan, demonstrating its absolute unwillingness to engage in constructive peace talks with the Azerbaijani side even despite the relevant resolutions and demands of the international community, including the United Nations Security Council, UN General Assembly, European Parliament, Council of Europe, OSCE, NATO, Non-Aligned Movement, OIC, etc.
On various occasions, the Armenian government expressed its intentions to further continue the confrontation with Azerbaijan, including the infamous statement on “new war for new territories” made by the Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan and the recent so-called “elections” and “inauguration” travesty held in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
Altogether, it can be considered as a manifestation of Armenia’s neglect and open rejection of the norms and principles of international law in pursuance of its expansionist objectives.
2) Deliberate attempt to threaten the intercontinental gas and oil pipelines and other strategic economic infrastructures.
Here we can see the obvious example of the Armenian provocation. Being isolated due to its occupational policy from every major regional project, the Armenian side decides to commit an egoistic and destructive attempt to create obstacles for normal functioning of the energy and transport lines such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway called the “Iron Silk Road” connecting Asia and Europe with each other, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, as well as Azerbaijan’s South Caucasus Pipeline channeling natural gas to the TAP and TANAP supplying Europe with alternative energy resources. It should be noted that in a few months first Azerbaijani natural gas is expected to be delivered to Italy through TAP.
Now, it becomes clear why Armenia and its supporters this time targeted the Tovuz region with an aim to capture the strategic heights: so that they could easily control this area, as well as the transport and energy corridors crossing this region, in order to endanger their very functioning.
3) Making false accusations against Azerbaijan for conducting large-scale offensive operations, which could pave the way for Armenia’s formal appeal to the CSTO.
It is an undeniable fact that in case if the recent events had happened in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region, the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, Armenia wouldn’t have any legitimate right to even consider the chances to appeal for the relevant support of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, led by the Russian Federation, in accordance with its Charter.
However, by “relocating” the attacks and putting forward the falsified claims about the Azerbaijani “aggressive military operations” on the Armenian territories, Armenia was hoping to achieve the CSTO’s direct interference, which didn’t happen.
Obviously, the groundless accusations of the Armenian leadership that their country is being attacked by Azerbaijan didn’t find enough supporters within the CSTO and its Emergency Meeting on Situation on Armenian-Azerbaijani Border was cancelled. So, Armenia’s dirty and very dangerous political game was prevented by the rational approach of the member countries.
It was another major diplomatic fiasco of Armenia, which further discredited itself as the state abusing the trust and mandate of international organizations.
4) Distraction of local population from numerous domestic problems in Armenia.
The failure of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who came to power as the embodiment of the democratic and welfare dreams of the Armenian people, which was ruled by the corrupted military junta regime for more than 20 years, damaged his popularity among the wider public even faster than he gained it nearly 2 years ago.
At the moment, Armenia is in a state of deep socio-economic and political crisis. The measures undertaken to fight the COVID-19 pandemic don’t bring any tangible results, as the cases of infection grow every day. Along with that, in order to strengthen its positions, the Pashinyan regime uses the unconstitutional and repressive methods against its political rivals, member of parliaments ordering criminal proceedings and mass arrests, usurping all 3 branches of power.
In fact, Pashinyan has already created his revolutionary dictatorship in Armenia. Due to this reason, there was huge public anger and disorder against the Armenian government prior to the recent escalation. In such a dangerous situation the attempt to unify the people of Armenia around the idea of “fight against external enemy” was almost the only option for the Pashinyan’s government to rescue its power.
But it should be noted that the recent events had a sobering effect on the Armenian population and didn’t bring the expected outcomes for the Armenian PM as the number of casualties and overall public frustration is constantly growing.
5) Attempt to undermine Azerbaijan’s initiative to convene the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on COVID-19.
While the whole globe is trying to find a successful way out of the COVID 19 crisis, Armenia attacks the neighbouring country creating a grave threat to regional stability in such a fragile time. Thus, military provocations of Armenia against Azerbaijan once again prove that Armenia’s statements in support of the UN Secretary-General’s global ceasefire call due to COVID-19 are nothing but hypocrisy.
As known, the UN General Assembly has decided to hold its Special Session upon the initiative of the President of Azerbaijan and Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement Mr. Ilham Aliyev to discuss the opportunities for a collective response to COVID-19, which was supported by more than 130 countries.
The agenda of the session has already been agreed and now the organizational activities are almost finished to hold the online meeting of the Heads of States and Governments.
It isn’t coincidental that Armenia was the only country which opposed the initiative to convene UN GA’s Special Session. By this, Armenia has once again proved that its groundless political ambitions are of higher priority for this country than global solidarity and multilateral diplomacy in fight against the real threat. Therefore, Armenia started to commit provocations along the state border to change Azerbaijan’s agenda and hamper the preparations for the Special Session.
The five above-mentioned facts are only a glimpse of the larger landscape of Armenian policy based on the aggressive territorial expansion and grossly violations all international legal and principles. Meanwhile, even this short review is enough to understand that the Armenian government bears full responsibility for the recent attacks.
In conclusion, I would like to remind the readers that for nearly 3 decades Armenia illegally keeps under occupation the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 adjacent districts of Azerbaijan, namely Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan, as a result of which more than 1 million of Azerbaijanis were forced to leave their places of origin.
Despite the relevant resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 874 (1993) and 884 (1993) of the UN Security Council demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, Armenia continues to ignore the demands of the international community.