These accusations fit into Armenia’s old political logic, adapted to the new conditions: recognize Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan → accuse Azerbaijan of attempted ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Karabakh Armenians → raise on the international arena the issue of the impossibility of Armenians living under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan → separate Karabakh from Azerbaijan on the principle of “remedial separation”.
Baku is well aware of this and takes adequate steps. Each claim/accusation, such as territorial integrity, ethnic cleansing, corridor, status, is countered with an appropriate response.
The failure to withdraw all troops from Karabakh, the allocation of more than $410 million to finance the illegal regime, the dispatching of saboteurs from Armenia and other countries to Karabakh, the refusal to return eight villages occupied during the First Karabakh War, are outright territorial claims against Azerbaijan. An adequate response was not long in coming. According to the President of Azerbaijan, “if they (Armenians) do not want to recognize our territorial integrity, then we do not recognize their territorial integrity. They do not want delimitation? … Then the border will go where we think it should go. I think it goes here.”
In response to accusations of ethnic cleansing and genocide, Azerbaijan draws attention to the fact that Armenia is a mono-ethnic country, and that it committed genocide against Azerbaijani civilians on March 31 and in Khojaly, subjecting them to ethnic cleansing from the territories of West Azerbaijan and Karabakh. The fact is that before the war, more than 200,000 Azerbaijanis lived in more than 300 towns and villages of present-day Armenia. Over 170 of them were inhabited only by Azerbaijanis and in about 90 villages Azerbaijanis were the majority. According to the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America, the current population of Armenia is 98.1% ethnic Armenians, 1.2% Yezidi Kurds and 0.7% other ethnic groups.
Armenia has been using the Lachin road for two years, while not opening the Zangezur corridor to Azerbaijan. Armenia opposes Baku setting up a checkpoint in Lachin and it is against granting an extraterritorial status to the Zangezur corridor. According to Baku, both routes should have the same status: they should be either corridors (the Russian scenario) or roads (the Brussels scenario). Yerevan’s rejection of these options led Baku to hold an environmental rally on the Lachin road and to reiterate that the Zangezur corridor is a strategic project for Azerbaijan. Recall that under the agreement of November 10, Azerbaijan is to provide “guarantees of safe movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions along the Lachin corridor”, and Armenia is to ensure “the organization of unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions” between the western districts of Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan.
According to the head of state, “If Armenia tries to demand a status for Armenians in Karabakh, why shouldn’t Azerbaijanis demand a status for themselves in Western Zangezur?”
It is worth mentioning that our rationale and arguments in this issue are much better grounded: Karabakh was populated both by Azerbaijanis and with Armenians, whereas over 170 villages of present-day Armenia were inhabited only by Azerbaijanis; Karabakh Armenians constituted 2% of the population of Azerbaijan, whereas Azerbaijanis living in Armenia made up approximately 10% of its total population. A peace treaty implies mutual commitments. If Armenia is not willing to accept that, it means that it is purposefully steering the process towards confrontation. Armenia must understand that the five principles proposed by Baku will not stay on the table forever.