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Interview of a member of the Committee for International Relations and Inter-Parliamentary Ties of Azerbaijani parliament, Rasim Musabekov, with Arminfo news agency reflects the viewpoints of the Azerbaijani political elite about the Karabakh conflict settlement and the last geo-political impulses. Naturally, the editorial office of Arminfo has published the interview in full.
by David Stepanyan
Many say that nothing changed around Karabakh for the last 20 years. Meanwhile, the geo-politics around the conflict has radically changed. The conflict around Ukraine, Russia’s new role and deeper disagreements between the co-chair states of the OSCE MG, etc. May all this result in birth of a new situation around settlement of the Karabakh conflict?
If nothing has changed in the deadlock situation around the Karabakh settlement for the last 20 years, serious changes happened in the global (the USA, EU, Russia and China), as well as regional (Russia, Turkey, Iran) sector of the geo-policy.
In future this may affect the Karabakh conflict settlement process. However, at present all the three co-chairs of the OSCE MG have close positions, as they are for settlement of the Karabakh conflict through negotiations based on the compromising Madrid principles. It is hard to say if this consensus will be preserved in future, in case of worsening of the crisis in Ukraine.
Not only of the global but also of the regional geo-political balance has changed. If 20-25 years ago, the military, political, economic and cultural domination of Russia in the South Caucasus was obvious, at present the situation differs. Not much has remained from the former strong South Caucasus Military Command able to independently confront Turkey and Iran, and from the Baku Air Defense Command. As for the Russian military bases deployed in Gyumri, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, even after their strengthening, they cannot be compared with the military potential even of the South Caucasus states, and moreover, of Turkey and Iran. In the demographic, economic and political sense Turkey and Iran still lag behind Russia, but they are coming closer to Russia. By the way, the ratio of forces between the South Caucasus countries changed much for the last 25 years. If at the moment of the USSR split, the number of population of Azerbaijan doubled that of Armenia, at present it is threefold more. Taking into consideration the fact that birth rate in Azerbaijan is fourfold more than in Armenia, and the migration mood in stronger among the Armenians, the demographic disparity will go on developing. If 20 years ago the economy of Armenia was 60% of the Azerbaijani one, at present it is just 16-18%. Not so much has remained from the former military parity either, and the Azerbaijani armed forces exceed much the Armenian ones both by their number and armament.
During the first halfyear 2014 several dozens of young people died at the border in the conditions of the “frozen” Karabakh conflict. In our countries they traditionally and cynically explain these death cases by the domestic political situation, the electoral periods and by signing of important contracts. What do you think of it?
Being sorry about the death of young people, understanding and sharing the sorrow of their parents, I would not rule out the possibility of such cases happening in future as well, if there is no progress in the process of peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict. I don't think that the death of servicemen and sometimes of civilians at the line of contact is linked with any domestic political or electoral reasons. The war has not ended, and just truce has been reached so that to arrange a strong peace. Unfortunately, we have not yet reached that. So, we shall have skirmishes, firings, local sabotage operations and the attempts of tactical improvement of military positions of the parties.
Armenia’s defense minister has recently offered the OSCE MG co-chairmen to set up a commission to investigate incidents at the border. However, the intermediaries refused because of “lack of funds”. Why were they so much consolidated?
Such proposals are in fact directed at conservation of the current status-quo. As for the intermediaries, they understand that without development of the peaceful settlement process and deployment of the separating forces, it is impossible to rule out ceasefire regime breaking. So, they are more concerned how to stop development of the situation towards resumption of the large-scale battle actions.
The latest repressions against representatives of civil society, in particular, Institute for Peace and Democracy, dealing with the “people’s diplomacy” with Armenia, are evidence of unwillingness of the authorities of Azerbaijan to go towards peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict on the basis of the 6 Madrid principles. What is the reason of such steps?
It is exaggeration to speak about repressions linked with filing a lawsuit against a journalist Rauf Mikradirov and his arrest. As for the employees of the Institute, they have been attracted to the case only as witnesses.I know Rauf Mirkadirov long ago and I would like to believe that he will manage to protect his reputation and disprove the accusation against him. As for the conclusions, they may be made at the end of investigation. In Armenia as well, people were often detained for cooperation with secret services of Azerbaijan. You should know better, how much all these accusations were grounded.
Azerbaijan is ready to continue talks on Karabakh conflict settlement on the basis of the Madrid principles, a member of the Azerbaijani parliament. All the rumors that the government of Azerbaijan is not ready to continue the talks on peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict on the basis of the Madrid principles are wrong.Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said that Baku is ready to the subject negotiations for peaceful settlement on the basis of Madrid principles. However, Baku is not interested in the imitation talks or making of the "frame agreements" which create an illusion of progress in settlement of the conflict.
What direct thunders to the nationals security of Azerbaijan exist today besides the Armenian one?
Azerbaijan manages to neutralize aspiration of the world and regional superpowers to involve us in the sphere of their influence thanks to the balanced foreign political course, to preserve independence and not to turn into somebody's outpost or satellite.
There are no direct thunders to security of Azerbaijan but the ones stemming from Armenia. Azerbaijan has been striving to establish good neighborly relations with the bordering states. We delimited the border to Russia. The borders to Iran were fixed during the soviet times. As for the disputable issues on the boundary settlement with Iran and Turkmenistan at the Caspian sea, they are resolved in the negotiating regime. There are also thunders stemming from the Islamist groups and movements which have become more active for the last period of time. However, the Azerbaijani security and order forces fully control the situation. Azerbaijan has been actively cooperating with Russia for neutralizing of such extremist groups, which try to penetrate in the territory of the republic. Azerbaijan has been also cooperating with Turkey, Israel and the USA within the frames of the anti-terrorist coalition. The fact that the Jihad forces did not manage to organize any terrorist act in Azerbaijan for the last period of time is evidence of effectiveness of actions by the Azerbaijani law-enforcement agencies. All such attempts were detected in time and neutralized.