Member of the Milli Majlis Rasim Musabekov commented in an interview with Minval.az on how the situation will unfold further and whether we should expect a quick signing of a peace treaty.
What do you think about the upcoming meeting of the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Granada mediated by European heads?
I do not believe that a peace agreement will be signed in Granada. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev pointed out that the main obstacle for signing a peace treaty had already been removed, which is why he called on the negotiating teams to work intensively and finalize the text of the peace treaty, i.e., initial it. I think that if this is arranged in Granada, there will be a good chance that a peace treaty will be signed.
But with whose mediation?
No mediation whatsoever. The negotiating teams come together and work on the text. I do not think it is necessary to go to Brussels for this, they can go to Tbilisi and work for 3-5 days, maintaining close contact with the respective governments. It is not impossible that it can also happen in Brussels, but this is not a matter of principle for Azerbaijan. The main thing is for the negotiating teams to sit down, work hard and initial the documents.
Let’s say we sign a peace treaty. Could we say then that a new page will be turned in the region or will there be tensions?
A new page in the region was turned in 2020 and in September this year. A new reality opened precisely after Azerbaijan’s victory, which shaped the new realities in the region.
The Presidential Administration has announced a reintegration program. What are your thoughts on this?
This is still very much a framework and the details need to be elaborated. Much will also depend on whether Armenians will return to know to what extent we should implement this reintegration program.
Still, to what extent will this program work, and will Armenians be willing to cooperate with the Azerbaijani authorities?
First, Armenians must want to return, and then we will work out the details of the proposed reintegration and its implementation with those who return. A roadmap will be drafted for each section. It is another matter that they will return in order to sell their property or take what they need.
One of the tricky topics is the internal political situation in Armenia. What if certain forces manage to overthrow Pashinyan? What then? Peace treaty down the drain?
What geopolitical force wants to overthrow Pashinyan? Obviously, Russia. But this has happened before, and Pashinyan has always lived under this Damocles’ sword. I think he has taken good care of his security. As practice shows, he cannot be overthrown by street protests. His security forces are fully operational. However, external players still have quite serious leverage over the Armenian Ministry of Defense. But there is a very important nuance, of which every Armenian is aware. It is that the only resource left for Armenia today is its democratic image. But if they trample it down, what will they have left? They are now trying to tell the whole world that “Armenian democracy has lost to Azerbaijani authoritarianism, help.” What will be left of this message then? Therefore, the intervention of the army is extremely unlikely, and with the help of the street too. In that case, only a terrorist scenario remains. Pashinyan is aware of this, and he recently fired the head of the state security service, replacing him with a close and trusted person. On the other hand, I think that the Western countries are providing him with the necessary information and thus protect him.
We had one million refugees and IDPs from Armenia and Karabakh. It was very difficult, it affected our socio-economic life. Meanwhile, a few thousand people left Karabakh. How will this affect the socio-economic and internal political life of Armenia?
In the 1990s, about 200,000 people left the territory of Armenia, including Azerbaijanis and Muslim Kurds. It should be noted that they expelled not only Azerbaijanis, but also Muslim Kurds, there were about 20-25,000 of them. About 3,000 Russians also left Armenia. Yes, Muslim Kurds were highly integrated with Azerbaijanis, they went to Azerbaijani schools, not Armenian or Russian ones. Armenia is capable of handling this number of people. However, if we look at the figures, there are some nuances. The Armenian side claims that 100,500 people left, but only 81,000 people were registered. Where did 20,000 go? They register people as soon as they cross the border. Where are the 20,000? They should be named, one by one. Where are they going to go? They do not exist. And in total, according to their data, 53,000 people have availed themselves of the temporary housing provided by the Armenian government. Even these 53,000, it is unlikely that all of them are Karabakh people. Too many people ended up in Karabakh, who went there from Armenia, while Karabakh’s own population “drifted” out of there. It does not matter to us whether it is 100,000 or 50,000, it matters to Pashinyan to unleash an information storm on Azerbaijan and to cry and ask for help.
But for Azerbaijan, it is simple, we have opened a portal: anyone who wants to should register and come back. We did not occupy their homes, we did not destroy their houses as Armenians did ours, we did not loot them. In other words, there is nothing to accuse us of.
Translated from Minval.az