If Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh are unable to receive their own humanitarian aid and have no control whatsoever over the separatists, what are they doing there?
We should add here that the Armenian separatists are screaming about a blockade and refusing all humanitarian cargoes, except for those that will have to go via the Lachin road. Therefore, we understand that the issue here is not humanitarian aid, but control over the Lachin road. Armenians need military rotations, uncontrolled transportation of goods and so on. As for the Russian peacekeepers, when it was decided to send a humanitarian cargo to Karabakh, it seemed to me that the issue had already been agreed upon, but the separatists did not let the vehicle through. Either this is some kind of show or there is a conflict between the separatists and the Russian peacekeeping contingent. I think there are elements of both here.
Pashinyan and Erdoğan are scheduled to have a phone call today. As local media reported citing diplomatic sources, the Armenian Prime Minister tried to contact Erdoğan several times. Do you expect the situation to be de-escalated as a result of this phone call?
I have no information on this. Pashinyan himself provoked this tension by sending a letter of congratulations on the anniversary of Karabakh’s “independence” on September 2. Now he has backed down, having realized that such provocations against Azerbaijan will not work. He is trying to defuse the situation. On the other hand, there are the theatrics with “genocide” and “famine” in the Armenian policy. Gradually, these theatrics are dying down, because Azerbaijan has offered aid, Russia and the ICRC have also offered aid, but the Armenians are rejecting it.
Now they are focusing more on saying that they need the Lachin road, so it should belong to them under the trilateral statement. In fact, the Lachin road will operate by our rules: with customs and all related elements. The trilateral statement does not say that this road should be extraterritorial. Yerevan demonstrates differences with Russia and thus turns to the West for help in opposing Azerbaijan.
This show is designed to appeal to certain moods in the West, and on the other hand, they talk about security, but there is nothing threatening them. The whole fuss is about Karabakh and their territorial claims, they just found a new wording for it now. First it was “miatsum”, then it was self-determination, now they are shouting about the rights and security of the people of Karabakh. This does not change the essence of the matter.
Armenian troops are currently being actively pulled to the borders. Should we expect an escalation of the conflict?
We should always expect escalation, as there is no peace treaty. As long as territorial claims continue, the situation is tense both inside Karabakh and Armenia. That is why I do not rule out that there may be provocations.
The EU and the US State Department made statements yesterday. What is the message of these statements?
Obviously, no country would ever recognize the elections in Karabakh. The separatists will never get their legitimacy recognized. But there are some issues with these statements. The EU calls on the separatists to engage in dialogue with Azerbaijan: this is a plus. In general, I think the EU statement is positive, but the US State Department statement raises serious concerns. It primarily uses the term “Nagorno-Karabakh”, “residents of Nagorno-Karabakh”. The conflict broke out because of territorial claims, it was Azerbaijanis who suffered, but the State Department in its statement talks about the rights of the residents of Karabakh. It appears that the security and rights of Karabakh Azerbaijanis are of secondary importance for the State Department. If we compare these two statements, the one by the US State Department is not constructive.
But both statements include the message that both Lachin and Aghdam roads should be opened?
Yes, that is true. It is a small positive thing about these statements. But the Armenians still have to respect the customs regulations of Azerbaijan. Companies that intend to import goods must be registered and pay taxes. We are moving in this direction. Although in another statement of the US State Department it was said that Azerbaijan should clarify its customs regulations.
The third meeting of the European political community is to be held in October. Olaf Scholz announced in Moldova another meeting in the Azerbaijan-Armenia-France-Germany-EU format. Will this meeting happen?
I would be surprised if we agreed to such a meeting, given the anti-Azerbaijani statements of France and Germany. The Armenians themselves are trying to get away from the peace treaty. Then they are trying to enshrine the status of Karabakh as the rights and security of Karabakh Armenians, and to secure an international mission. Therefore, a peace treaty, despite all the optimistic statements, is postponed, the security situation remains variable. These are not the countries that can be our mediators in our dealings with Armenia.
Translated from Minval.az