By now, after twenty-five years of a breathing spell, the active activisation in April of the military operations in Nagorny Karabakh drew the attention of the world community to this region.
A series of successes achieved by the Azerbaijani Army in their battle actions promoted the patriotic rising in the Azerbaijani society, as well as let it hope for the restatement of the national territory integrity of that country. Mr. Ferhad Turanly, Head of “The Assembly of the Ukrainian & Azerbaijani Intelligentsia”, told us today about the currently stood position of Azerbaijan’s Authorities and about the public sentiments in the Azerbaijani society concerning the settlement of the Nagorny-Karabakh conflict, as well in regard of the dependence of that problem on the events in the east of Ukraine.
Mr. Turanly, regulation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, like it is with that of the Ukrainian-Russian one, the so called “Minsk Group” is in charge. How currently, especially after the “April events”, does the Official Baku assesses the activites of that Group?
Currently, the Azerbaijani side is extremely dissatisfied, particularly after the re-activisation of active military operations in Nagorny Karabakh this year in April, with the activities of the Minsk Group related to the settlement of the conflict. Fist, these activities are being very sharply criticised by the Azerbaijani top military and state officials, who requires from the Minsk Group to make its best, so as to put the end to the conflict. Besides, the Azerbaijani government openly states, that, if the Minsk Group is unable to settle the said conflict peacefully, Azerbaijan leaves its right to make Armenia return the territories it occupied in due time applying a heavy-handed approach.
Are the official statements like that one a manifestation of a poor populism by country’s government?
The serious highlight declarations of the Azerbaijani state government cannot be a populism element, as after the April events, the situation in the conflict zone set up in the way which gives the government the right and compels it at the same time to make declarations like the mentioned ones. Besides this important factor which spurs the government into such actions, is the point that for the time being Azerbaijan’s military preparedness is at quite a sufficient level, including here the operational capability for implementation of offensive, military actions aimed at stopping the occupation of Nagorny Karabakh and the areas of seven regions of Azerbaijan adjoining it. And if the authorities were not sure of that, it would not have issued the command to made use weapons during the April events.
And what was the Nagorny Karabakh population’s attitude to resuming the active military operations in Nagorny Karabakh?
On the whole, we can say, that the April events have changed the situations radically. Particularly, some progress attained in the result of the military actions this year in April contributed to inspiring the combat instinct in the Azerbaijani Army, and it initiated a noticeable rising of the patriotic morale in the Azerbaijani society. Many people, especially the young ones, and in particular, women, voluntarily join the national army, and they are ready to take participation in the military operations for liberating the occupied Azerbaijani territories, primarily those of Nagorny Karabakh.
Besides, declarations about leaving Azerbaijan the right on its to apply on its own consideration force, so as to return its occupied territories, which is now being made only by th top government of the country, are accounted for by also the requirement of Azerbaijani society, which is demanding on starting urgently and efficient actions for the sake of liberating the above said territories according to the Constitution of the state. Partially, currently, the Azerbaijani society is dissatisfied with the decision to cease the fire, for the society considered the liberation by the Azerbaijani Army of certain territories, including here also the high points of the strategic importance, as the beginning of the liberation process in relation of the occupied territories, so the national society is in favour of Azerbaijan’s immediate starting military actions aiming at the liberation of these territories.
So, speaking in other words, is the probability of restarting the active military actions real?
Due to the above said factors, and in case of failing by the Armenian side to observe the respective terms and conditions of the international legal document of the UNO Security Council, and directly the following ones: Resolution # 822 of 30 April, Resolution # 853 of 29 June, Resolution # 874 of 14 October and Resolution # 884 of 12 November 1993, in which there officially confirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, as well as of the agreements on ceasing the fire from 5 April 2016, restarting by Azerbaijan military actions is not excluded.
Consequently, it would be for Azerbaijan very important to be sure of support from the side of the world’s community. Who, in your opinion could in this or that measure provide assistance to Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia?
As for the possible aliens of Azerbaijan in its wide opposing Armenia are concerned, so a different support can be provided by the below countries:
• the USA that is interested in Azerbaijan, and in the South-Caucasian Region in general, because of respective energy-related projects. Despite the presidential elections in the country, the American business is rather focused on the given region, and it will defend there their own interests (particularly, if implementation of the projects within the frameworks of the so called “The Southern Corridor”);
• Тurkey, which already repeatedly declared, that it could support Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia, provision of a military support being included. At the present time Тurkey is giving Azerbaijan essential help, for example, politically, diplomatically and also in the military field, by cooperating with Azerbaijan in the sphere of the military and technical cooperation and carrying joint military trainings and maneuvers;
• Pakistan, which, particularly, is a nuclear-armed state. So, the Pakistani side has already declared, that in case of any escalation of the conflict, its army men will participate in that on the side of Azerbaijan. In this context we should add, that between Pakistan and Azerbaijan there are close historical connections. For instance, when Pakistan was suffering from an earthquake, the Azerbaijani side supported this country a lot in its re-constructing.
• Iran, which officially expressed its supporting Azerbaijan, and on whose territory a numerous Azerbaijani community lives (about 40m people), which are also in favour of supporting the idea of liberating Nagorny Karabakh through military means and methods.
But, on the other hand, as Armenia is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Оrganisation (CSTO), what do you think of a perspective participation of this organisation in the above said confrontation on the side of Armenia, and? Particularly of that for prospect of Russia’s participation?
Speaking of a possible involvement, if a wide-scale conflict occurs, the CSTO being on Armenia’s side is of low probability, since as it was demonstrated by the events that took place during the April escalation of the Nagorny Karabakh, the members of the mentioned organisation, particularly Belarus and Kazakhstan, as well as Russia itself, did not show evidently their support of Armenia. And this fact proves there is no unity inside this organisation, and that the organisation is more probably declarative only, therefore, in case of any confrontation, the said countries might not feel like becoming involved in the confrontation, which is not an object of their concerns. The latter point can be explained by the fact, that, for example, Belarus, at the present time is seeking improvement of its relations with the West, particularly, to save its national economy. Kazakhstan, in its turn, makes its endeavours for involving into its economy effective western investments. Bearing in mind everything, what has been said above, we can reasonably conclude, that for time being, the CSTO is for Russia. That supports Armenia, a mechanism of low effect in the military area, and first of all – in the political plan.
There is a confidence nowadays, which, by the way, is being widely spread in the Armenian cultural medium, wide-scale military actions in Nagorny Karabakh are disadvantageous for Azerbaijan. Because they threaten the international energy projects of this country.
The persuasion, that wide-scale actions for liberating Nagorny Karabakh may be against its international energy projects of both Azerbaijan, and for everybody and everything in Southern Caucasus at all, is not true. The point is, that, on the contrary, it is a kind of the master card of the Azerbaijani side in its opposition to Armenia (the latter one being supported by Russia)? As Armenia together with the Russian Federation and the CSTO will be limited in their replies, because in Azerbaijan there are under implementation very important energy projects which are based on significant western, and primarily, American, interests. That is why, when the Armenian side declares that Azerbaijan’s energy facilities may become its military targets, it is bluffing, for such an attack will mean an attack on the American facilities. And this idea is absolutely clear for everybody in the Azerbaijani political elite.
Is there currently any at least theoretical possibility for making peace between the peoples of Armenia and Azerbaijan?
In spite of the fact 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan for about 25 years has been under the occupation of Armenia, it puts forward peaceful initiatives in regard of settling the Armenian and Azerbaijani conflict. Besides, there should also be added, that in Armenia itself there are constructive social and political forces, which stood the grounds in favour of a peaceful settlement of the problem on the base of observing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. And after the April events this tendency is obviously spreading wider and wider, for both of the sides have suffered losses in the form of both battlefield casualties, technical means. Hence, no doubt, bringing together both peoples together is possible at the present time, and that can come true only providing observation of the following conditions: freeing by the Armenian side all the territories having been occupied and restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, provision for the Armenians residing in Nagorny Karabakh adequate cultural independence according to the valid legal international standards and such important for it international economic projects being implemented in the region. However, all that is possible only guaranteeing observation of one very critical condition: that will not be impeded by the Russian side, which currently is the only side being not interested in real rapprochement between the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples.
Is one of the options for a peaceful settlement of the conflict introduction on the territory of Nagorny Karabakh of a peace-supporting mission under the aegis of the UN/OSCE/EU, and how real could it be currently?
Unfortunately, introduction of a peace-supporting mission into the conflict zone would mean a further delay of the process of settling that problem. Today the question is formulated very clearly: the occupied territories shall be liberated, and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan shall be reestablished, as well as over one million of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced people shall be given possibility to get back to their native land.
It’s nobody’e secret currently, that the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, like the one in Donbass region, is a part of the Kremlin’s plan to multiply conflicts on the post-Soviet area, so as to remain having control on the important for Russia regions, and on as many states, as it is possible at all. In this context one may say, that settlement of such conflicts to some extent depends from each other of the conflict sides, and that requires a closer cooperation between our countries. Can you agree on that?
Answering this question, I should like to share my idea, the Azerbaijani society is confident of, that at the present time the problem of Nagorny Karabakh is being settled in Ukraine, and more exactly, in Donbass, while Ukraine’s problem of its energy independence is being settled in Azerbaijan. Such a close cooperation between the two countries being taken into account, Ukraine needs strengthening development of its Black-and-Caspian-Sea orientation vector in the countries’ foreign policy. Inter alia, by using the Azerbaijani, as well as Middle-Asian, energy resources, Ukraine can become independent from the Russian oil and gas, and, moreover, it can start exporting its gas to other European countries itself.
Touching the issue of activisation of the cooperation between the two above said countries in the security sphere, one of the key steps on this way there shall become formation, aiming at providing a counteraction to Moscow’s aggression (the latter being an evident fact), of a Baltic-Black-and Caspian-Sea Alliance – a so called political alliance, with the dominant role in that being executed by Ukraine, Turkey, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Besides, concerning the raised problem. I feel like to add, that the peaceful scenario of development of the cooperation between Ukraine and Azerbaijan in the political, military, economic and humanitarian spheres has managed to be checked in testing it by history. At the contemporary level of development of their relations, when both countries have faced the same problem, a special strengthening is needed in the field of the diplomatic relations, which made the said countries the strategical partners, and which enables these countries settling the conflicts, having been imposed to them from outside, as much quickly and efficiently, as it is possible.
Interviewer – Ihor Fedyk, Defense Express