“We have yet to see a steady, consistent approach to the setting up of a joint bilateral commission to start the delimitation process,” Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said at the joint press conference with his Hungarian counterpart in Baku. Thus, official Baku has made it clear that it does not accept Armenia’s current attitude, seeing it as yet another trick and manipulation. What is the meaning of these Armenian games?
“If we look closely at the statements of Armenian officials, the point of their current strategy is to launch the process of border delimitation and demarcation, which is essentially a technical process. And this technical process must be preceded by a political document that mutually recognizes the parties’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. After that, it will be determined on the map where exactly this line will be, say, ten meters here or ten meters back: it is purely technical nuances,” former Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov voiced his opinion in an interview with Minval.az.
He added that today we see, and Armenia openly declares it through its Prime Minister, that “Yerevan will continue its policy concerning ‘Artsakh’ in the new circumstances.”
“What does it mean? It means the same old ‘miatsum’ policy and territorial claims against Azerbaijan, which has taken various forms over 30 years, including armed aggression, ethnic cleansing of territories, etc. And they want to continue this policy in the current situation,” the ex-minister said.
According to Zulfugarov, Armenia thinks and hopes that the current situation in Karabakh will last as long as possible, and then, depending on the political context, things can be changed.
“But at the heart of Armenia’s current approach to the situation is its reluctance to recognize the territorial integrity, the sovereignty of Azerbaijan, including Karabakh. So, when they say they have recognized our territorial integrity, they always mean everything except Karabakh. This is their tactic today,” he said.
Why is the process of border delimitation so pressing and important for the Armenian side today?
Because, Tofig Zulfugarov says, they are well aware that, having declared the continuation of its policy of territorial claims against Azerbaijan, Yerevan will face a response from Baku—the policy of restoring historical justice.
“It concerns first and foremost the return of the Azerbaijani territories illegally given to Armenia by the Soviet leadership 100 years ago: Zangezur, Goycha Mahal, etc. And the most logical and consistent position of Baku is that by not recognizing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, Armenia automatically calls into question its own territorial integrity.
“That is, if Yerevan refuses to recognize our border, and the border is a dual concept (as it lies between two states), then Armenia effectively invalidates the status of its own border as well. That is, in fact, what the contradiction is about,” the diplomat concluded.
Thus, he remarks, fearing that Azerbaijan will launch a policy to restore historical justice, the Armenian side seeks to formalize in the process of delimitation and demarcation the border that Armenia had in Soviet times.
“Once again, they are trying to do this while they themselves do not recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. This is their tactic,” Zulfugarov pointed out.
But this tactic, according to our interviewee, is not so much cunning as naïve. And if Azerbaijan disagreed and opposed it in the past, now that Armenia has suffered a military defeat and is much weaker than Azerbaijan, let alone the Azerbaijani-Turkish tandem, the outcome of this policy is predetermined: “Nothing good is in store for Armenia in this case.”
In this context, the political scientist believes, there is another important detail here: while making these populist statements and trying to declare their policies, the Armenian political elite actually has no other goals than to drag this situation out in order to simply stay in power as long as possible.
“Moreover, in the issue of delimitation and demarcation, the Armenian side proposes a mirror withdrawal of armed forces from the border line, the border they themselves won’t recognize. And why, among other reasons, won’t Azerbaijan accept Armenia’s conditions? Because Armenia wants to formalize its Soviet-era border, all the while continuing to make territorial claims against our country. Baku, of course, understands this very well and will not accept such proposals.”
Such “Armenian games,” according to Zulfugarov, have no chance of succeeding—neither economically, nor militarily, nor demographically. By doing so, the Armenian leadership essentially betrays the interests of its own people as well.
“After the 44-day war, the Armenian political elite had a chance to choose a good neighbor policy, to give up their territorial claims, the illusions they had imposed on their public for almost 30 years. But they chose another path, the path of political egoism and pseudo-patriotism. However, by condemning their people to confrontation, they condemn it to new losses, which is certain and inevitable,” the expert stressed.
The political scientist believes that Azerbaijan “shouldn’t rely on Russia” when it comes to the peace process in Karabakh.
“We should proceed from the premise that Russia is very keen on preserving the Karabakh confrontation as a tool for controlling the two countries and the region in general. So, we can say that this confrontation with Azerbaijan is essentially already happening. Because right after November 10, 2020 we saw attempts to ensure the return of the Armenian population to Karabakh, to create certain conditions for that, and so on. That is, the idea is to preserve the conflict and at the same time to cover it with scenery and props, although this may be too harsh a definition for the fates of the people used as puppets in the region. But the Armenians know that they are being used, and they simply leave the territory, despite all the efforts to keep them there. This is why Azerbaijan is demonstrating a kind of “strategic patience tactic” today. We realize that the powers concerned won’t be able to keep the Armenian population in Karabakh, that it will dwindle, which, of course, will be not our fault. And this is why Baku is already asking through our President: “What kind of status can there be for a population of 25,000?” Zulfugarov said.
“And if there are even fewer of them? Why do we need a peacekeeping force if there are, say, three thousand Armenians left there?” the former minister wonders.
“All the more so that Azerbaijan is now busy restoring the infrastructure in the liberated districts, and once it has strengthened there, the outflow of Armenians from Karabakh will increase, and everyone will realize that playing the old scenario is no longer possible. This is how the Karabakh conflict, as a tool for controlling the region, will simply cease to exist,” Zulfugarov summed up.
Translated from Minval.az