Puppet policy won’t solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Hikmat Hajiev [AzerbaijanNews]

The recent assertions by the Armenian Prime Minister to involve the illegal puppet regime established in the seized lands of Azerbaijan, in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations, can only paralyse the whole process, writes Hikmat Hajiev.

Hikmat Hajiyev is Head of Foreign Policy Department of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s interview on 4 March with EURACTIV, particularly his claims on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict is diametrically opposite to the essence and format of negotiation process mediated by OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

Since the Dushanbe meeting between President Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan in September last year, Azerbaijan has taken constructive and courageous steps to create conducive environment to move the negotiation process forward. In the margins of CIS informal summit in St. Petersburg and in Davos yet another two meetings took place between leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia. However, Armenian Prime Minister even avoids calling them meetings and prefers metaphorical illustration as informal contacts.

This hopeful dynamism has also been accompanied by four meetings of Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan with the mediation of OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.

But instead of positively responding to the optimism of co-chairs and international community at large to continue substantive and intensive result-oriented dialogue between the two countries, Armenian Prime Minister started to make unrealistic assertions to involve illegal puppet regime established in the seized lands of Azerbaijan to negotiations. By such thinking Armenian side deliberately blocks and paralyzes the entire talks.

Armenian Prime Minister says that he cannot speak on behalf of Armenians of Karabakh but fails to answer the basic question: What are Armenian armed forces doing in the sovereign lands of Azerbaijan?

It is very well known that Armenia, in blatant violation of the UN Charter by illegal use of force, occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions of Azerbaijan. Bloody ethnic cleansing has been perpetrated by Armenia against million more Azerbaijani civilians, who still continue to live as IDPs and refugees.

The direct involvement of the Armenian armed forces in the military hostilities against Azerbaijan and the presence of these forces in the occupied territories attest legal, political and moral responsibility of Armenia as the party to the conflict. Simply, by play of words Armenian Government cannot evade this overwhelming responsibility.

The occupiers often disguise their own role in the forcible seizure of the territory of another state by setting up puppet regimes in the occupied territories. The so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” is a vivid illustration of this policy and practice.

The European Court of Human Rights with regard to the case “Chiragov vs Armenia” put an effective end to Armenia’s persistent denial of responsibility. ECHR ruled that “the ‘NKR’ and its administration survives by virtue of the military, political, financial and other support given to it by Armenia which, consequently, exercises effective control over Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding territories”.

Recently, Pashinyan’s Cabinet member and chief of national security admitted Armenia’s policy of annexation of seized lands by justifying settlement practice and refusing to return even inch of occupied lands.

There is yet another inconsistency. In the interview Pashinyan welcomes the UN Secretary General’s statement on the conflict, but passes in silence over the four UN Security Council Resolutions on Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Armenia has yet to fulfil the demands of UNSCRs on immediate and unconditional withdrawal of troops from all occupied lands of Azerbaijan.

Paradoxically, Armenian leadership from one side expresses support to the efforts of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, but from another side undermines the work of Co-Chair countries by calling for change of negotiation format.

There is well established institutional memory within the OSCE Minsk Group. According to the decision of OSCE Helsinki Ministerial of 1992 Armenia and Azerbaijan recognized as conflicting parties and consequently, Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan as interested parties. Under the conditions of committing ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s groundless attempts to demand exclusive rights to Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh are contrary to the letter and spirit of human rights. Armenia even tries to deny very existence of 80.000 more Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh and by all means blocks dialogue between two communities.

Azerbaijan supports statements by EU high officials during a press conference with Pashinyan. The status quo of occupation is unacceptable and must be changed. Putting conditions to negotiations is inadmissible, no need to create a new format, and negotiations should continue within existing framework based on agreed formula. Continuity of and commitment to the negotiations must be preserved. These are also unanimously shared view of international community. Therefore, addressed political-diplomatic messages should be delivered to Armenia. The Armenian side should finally understand that the period of euphoria ended. Street populism is enough and it is time to take serious actions.

We do also share the idea and philosophy of the report prepared with the sponsorship of EU on economic dividends of conflict settlement on Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenia’s economic development is impossible without a settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

To achieve progress in the resolution of conflict, Armenia must withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and build civilised relations with neighbors. Only in this case the most needed lasting and just peace can be ensured in the region. Otherwise, Armenia’s political, economic and demographic crisis and self-isolation will continue to deepen.

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