All in all, it is becoming clear that the world does not care about the extinguished conflict except for Armenian politicians, who still fail to grasp that the Karabakh issue is closed for good and no one is going to bring it back to life.
For over 30 years Armenia nurtured the hope that sooner or later it would be able to convince the world community that the occupation of Azerbaijani territories and quasi-independence for the separatists, with their subsequent inclusion (annexation), should be recognized as legitimate in the name of illusory peace. But, alas, these Armenian dreams faded like the morning mist after Armenia’s crushing defeat and capitulation in the Second Karabakh War.
Having somewhat recovered from the defeat, the Armenian leadership started singing the same old tune, trying to revert to the past and seeking to bring the negotiations back into the fold of the OSCE Minsk Group in order to keep opportunities for a future revanche by freezing the situation. For this purpose, the Armenian side did its best to convince the international mediators that the negotiations should be returned under the umbrella of the Minsk Group co-chairs, who had failed to do anything, as they wanted to indulge the aggressor Armenia instead of forcing it to respect international law and implement the four UN Security Council resolutions, which demanded the immediate withdrawal from the occupied Azerbaijani lands.
Immediately after the end of the war, the Armenian leadership pretended that nothing had changed and deceived the Armenian public, trying to hide the truth that the geopolitical situation in the region was now fundamentally different and the conflict was effectively over.
To this end, in response to Azerbaijan’s initiatives to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement that would end years of enmity and establish peace between the two countries, the Armenian side began to set all sorts of preconditions and excuses, to interpret the signed trilateral statements in its own way, to appeal to international organizations with unclear requirements that infringe on Azerbaijan’s sovereign rights.
Armed with the support of the diaspora, Armenian diplomacy launched a worldwide propaganda campaign of lies and disinformation against Azerbaijan and Turkey, portraying Armenia as an “innocent victim” of “aggression”, even though all the combat operations during the war were conducted in the territory of Azerbaijan.
Despite the agreements reached, the Armenian side has so far done nothing concrete to open new transport corridors, unlike Azerbaijan, who began building a highway and a railroad to the border almost immediately after the end of the war.
Official Yerevan has been making a fuss about transport corridors, trying to thwart the opening of the Zangezur corridor and divert rail traffic along the longer and more tortuous northern route on the border with Gazakh District of Azerbaijan. Furthermore, Armenian officials keep speculating on the status of the new transport routes, refusing to grant them a status similar to that of the Lachin corridor.
Little by little, the Armenian leadership fell into a trance and came to believe that it could reverse history and achieve advantageous results in the negotiations: unilateral concessions, a status for the Armenian population of the Karabakh region, the opening of borders and transport routes that would suit Armenian interests.
With this in mind, Armenia assures the international mediators that it supports a “fair” peace treaty that would “take into account” the interests of both sides (i.e., satisfy Armenia’s territorial claims). Despite the commitment it undertook, the remnants of Armenian armed forces have yet to be withdrawn from the Azerbaijani territory where peacekeepers are temporarily deployed. Armenian officials are also openly discussing the idea of replacing conscripts with contract military personnel, which is nothing but a provocation at its finest and a pretext for resuming hostilities.
With these statements the Armenian side is clearly setting the peacekeepers up, trying to present them as its “allies” and a shield from just retribution, as it is well aware that Azerbaijan will not sit idly by and watch Armenia restore its military “strength”. Moreover, Azerbaijan will not allow the Lachin corridor to be used for transportation of manpower and military cargo.
Official Yerevan has been trying for a long time to prevent representatives of foreign countries and international organizations from visiting the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, lest the world community see the scale and extent of the barbaric destruction committed during the Armenian occupation. By openly blackmailing and often threatening representatives of other countries and international organizations, Armenian Foreign Ministry officials brazenly tried to paint these territories as “originally Armenian, temporarily placed under Azerbaijan’s control” and interpreted such visits to the liberated territories as an “infringement” on Armenian sovereignty.
Naturally, such presentation of the issue aroused surprise and indignation among most foreign guests, who always considered these territories as Azerbaijani and rejected all claims of the Armenian side. Although official representatives of some countries, including the Minsk Group co-chair countries, tried to avoid such visits for fear of “hurting the feelings” of their Armenian colleagues, arguing that it might compromise their mediation efforts in the future.
But the inglorious collapse of the Minsk Group, which had failed to do anything concrete for more than 28 years, put an end to this hope of Armenian diplomacy as well. Conflicts between the co-chair countries made their work together no longer possible, and their effectiveness in resolving the extinguished conflict was, as President Ilham Aliyev aptly put it, zero, which led to the group’s long-anticipated demise.
The disintegration of the Minsk Group gave free rein to the former co-chair countries and allowed them mediate individually. On July 13-14, 2022, the liberated Azerbaijani city of Shusha was visited by Russian Ambassador to Azerbaijan M. Bocharnikov, who had a chance to see with his own eyes the extent of the destruction resulting from the Armenian occupation and the scale of reconstruction efforts carried out by the Azerbaijani authorities.
Ambassador Bocharnikov could see for himself that all of Armenia’s unfounded allegations of Armenian cultural heritage sites being destroyed in the liberated Azerbaijani territories are nothing but lies and disinformation, spread for the purpose of stirring up a dirty propaganda campaign.
Conducting restoration and repair works in the liberated territories, Azerbaijan carefully protects all the real cultural heritage sites, including the monuments commemorating the victory in World War II, regardless of national affiliation. Official representatives of other former co-chair countries will probably visit the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan soon as well, despite the hysterical wails and cries of Armenian diplomats.
We should keep in mind here that the leaders of Russia and France have publicly acknowledged that the Karabakh region belongs to Azerbaijan under international law, and all the OSCE member states (except Armenia) supported the statement of the then acting chairman Portugal at the Lisbon summit of the organization back in 1996, which specified that the conflict should be resolved based on respect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including the Karabakh region. That is, the international community has in fact rejected all of Armenia’s claims to Azerbaijani territories, which now Armenian diplomacy is trying to dig up from its closet again under the guise of “the right of nations to self-determination”.
According to the Constitution adopted in 1995 and numerous European conventions to which Azerbaijan acceded when it joined the Council of Europe in 2001, all nations and peoples living in the country have equal rights and duties, regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation, and have the right to develop their national culture and religion.
All speculations by the Armenian side that the Armenian population of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan will not be safe after the withdrawal of the peacekeepers are excuses designed to secure annexation, using this far-fetched pretext to deceive the international community.
The attempts of Armenian diplomacy to play on the contradictions between its EAEU allies and the EU have also failed miserably, since Armenia’s virtually bankrupt economy needs significant loans, which the EU can provide only if the country follows the sanctions imposed against Russia, something the Armenian side cannot do, as it would be equivalent to suicide.
No amount of crying, moaning, and invoking the “democratic” nature of the Armenian government has been helpful in this matter. Official Yerevan’s attempts to get soft loans from Moscow and money from Brussels have so far been unsuccessful because they are mainly linked with the position on the opening of the Zangezur corridor which both Russia and EU countries need now as a new route between Europe and Asia.
Armenia’s blind unwillingness to understand these realities is not conducive to solving the country’s problems. The EU is interested in developing economic relations with Azerbaijan, especially in the field of much needed energy supplies to the European market, while Armenia has nothing to offer the EU except sighs, gasps, and “historical” claims against its neighbors.
That is why the July 18 visit of President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to Azerbaijan will be an important milestone in the development of Azerbaijan-EU relations. The successful mediation efforts of President of the European Council Charles Michel, who managed to organize several meetings between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia, is evidence that Brussels is interested in peace and stability in the region. The EU, unlike Armenia, has long become aware of the new geopolitical realities and is not going to pander to the latter’s expansionist aspirations.
The EU supports Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, it is willing to offer assistance in reaching a peace deal, in the delimitation and demarcation of the border with Armenia, and it is not going to sacrifice its own interests for the sake of the Armenian pipe dream of “independent status” for the separatists. The fact that the international community is gradually accepting the new realities in the region is also evident from the reaction of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Birmingham, UK, where, despite the best efforts of the Armenian delegation, they failed to get their favorite topics, such as the fate of the captured saboteurs, Armenian cultural heritage and the right of nations to self-determination, to be added to the agenda.
These insinuations are no longer of any consequence to anyone other than the Armenian delegation and a bunch of paid clients of the affluent diaspora. The world community, especially the parliamentarians of the OSCE countries, are busy with other global problems and do not intend to waste time on satisfying the fragile ego of their Armenian colleagues. Lilit Galstyan, an opposition MP from the Armenia bloc and a member of the Armenian delegation to the OSCE PA, even said bitterly that all attempts by the Armenian side to push for a discussion of these issues had failed, because, in her opinion, the members of the OSCE PA were focused only on the situation around Ukraine—yet another signal that no one cares anymore about the conflict-related issues promoted by Armenia.
This is why the shameful fiasco of Armenian diplomacy, as it prepares for a new war instead of peace by sabotaging the implementation of the clauses of the trilateral statements and putting forward unacceptable proposals about the status based on the “separation for salvation” principle, can lead to a new escalation of the situation in the region. And that can end badly for the Armenian side after it gets another round of treatment with Azerbaijan’s iron fist.
Speaking at the meeting on the results of the first six months of the year on July 15, 2022, President Ilham Aliyev once again warned the Armenian leadership against the danger of clinging to the illusions of revenge and recommended that they start a meaningful dialogue on the normalization of relations. Otherwise, Azerbaijan has something to counter Armenia’s territorial claims and unenforceable demands.
Translated from Day.Az