The situation in the frontline has become tense again after the latest sabotages of the Armenian armed units and their attempts to sneak into our positions. For a few days now, the enemy has been firing at our positions using large-caliber weapons, mortars including heavy artillery. All the sabotage attempts of the Armenian military units have, naturally, been thwarted and the enemy been silenced with a return fire. Dealing deadly blows to the enemy sometimes cost our Armed Forces losses. But the enemy is trying to hide its losses in any way they can and are trying to make it sound as if it was Azerbaijani servicemen that launched the attack and they were on the defensive and thus our Army suffered losses. Rasim Musabayov, a member of the parliament and political analyst, answers our questions at "Kaspi” about the new provocation along the frontline, the reason behind these actions, expected Russia visit of Armenian and Iranian president, Karabakh call of the Turkish president and other things.
- Rasim, what’s the reason behind increasing provocation attempts in the frontline?
- Escalation on the contact line between Armenia and Azerbaijan can be linked to several factors. First and foremost, Armenia wants to make permanent the contact line and place international observers there and hold monitoring. By doing so, they want to maintain the status-quo so that they can get comfortable and wouldn’t have to leave our lands. They want to ensure themselves against the pressure. Because they cannot stand to be under constant pressure from Azerbaijan. During the talks, Azerbaijani officials have repeatedly stated that Armenian troops should leave the occupied territories. Thus, Armenians’ insidious plans have failed. The Azerbaijani side unambiguously states that the observers can only come to the region after the occupation is ended. Otherwise, Azerbaijan will never let anyone enter there. And by escalating the situation on the frontline, Armenian side wants to force the Mink Group to apply pressure on Azerbaijan and thus bring international observers to the region. On the other hand, everyone knows that there will be parliamentary elections in Armenia in April. As a result, Armenia will become a parliamentary republic and most powers of the presidents will be divided among the prime minister and the legislative body. This election will resolve the question of authority. But the problem is, the incumbent president Serzh Sargsyan’s team has joined the election from a losing position. First of all, it’s due to the fact that Sargsyan’s government has failed to produce any positive social and economic results. Second reason is the heavy blow dealt to the Armenian forces in last April’s clashes and liberation of several strategic heights. This destroyed the myths Armenian government had build about the Armenian army. In short, Sargsyan’s government emerged as losers from the April war. For this very reason, President Sarhsyan tries to take the upper hand by committing sabotages in the frontline and if possible, retake the lands liberated by Azerbaijani army last year. If Sargsyan had managed to cause as much damage to Azerbaijan as possible, then the morale among his people would rise. But they failed and they had to retreat after receiving a crushing blow in the frontline. However, I also do not rule out the possibility that certain Russian circles are trying to put pressure on Azerbaijan by resorting to provocation along the front line. Because we know that Russia is somewhat worried after the Southern Gas Corridor received international support. But the main reason behind recent escalations in the frontline is the first and second factors I mentioned.
- Based on our observations, we can say that while we released information about the identity of our martyrs who died preventing the provocation of the enemy, the opposite side hides their losses. What’s the reason behind this?
- Armenian media also releases the names of people who died as a result of tension in the frontline. But, of course, the whole, detailed information is reported yet and is concealed from the public. Because it doesn’t serve the interest of Sargsyan’s regime. We are not only talking about mercenary soldiers here. They are not releasing the names of soldiers who were Armenian citizens and died in the frontline. They hide those bodies in the morgues and later release information about them separately. They pretend that one or two soldiers die every day as a result of the cease-fire. Releasing the names of all slain soldiers would be another blow to Armenia and cause low morale in the public and increase the anti-government sentiments.
- After the diversions in the frontline slowed down, the Armenian side put forth a baseless claim that Azerbaijani side had not taken the OSCE to the front positions during the monitoring of the contact line. What’s the purpose of damaging the image of the international organizations and blackmailing them by spreading such slanderous information?
- Armenia has no power to blackmail the international community as well as the powerful countries, but they have "patrons”. Everyone’s silent despite them violating the cease-fire in the last few days, as they fail to make any gains, they want to spread propaganda with the help of such misinformation. Problem is certain circles are neither capable of saying "yes” to Armenia, nor defending the rights of Azerbaijan for the sake of keeping balance.
- Serzh Sargsyan is expected to make a two-day trip to Russia on March 14. He is expected to talk about bilateral cooperation with Vladimir Putin as well as discuss the latest situation in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. Is it reasonable to expect anything from these discussions?
- I don’t think there will be a serious development in regards to Nagorno Karabakh issue, or that Sargsyan will be pressured. They are asking for money. Armenian president first went to Brussels to beg for money. Now he is going to Russia with the same intent. Armenia has no economic prospects. Moreover, Sargsyan’s Russia visit is a calculated move to solve his own problem. He may receive support from Moscow or be the alternative candidate of Kremlin. It should also not be forgotten that, Sargsyan’s team took power by taking advantage of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. Karabakh issue is very important for them in this regard.
- There are rumors the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani will visit Russia in late March. According to the statements released by Iranian embassy in Russia, during the meeting president will discuss the situation in Afghanistan, issues relating to the Caspian Sea as well as regional problems such as Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Do you think Iran can have an effect on the resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with the international law and within the framework of preserving the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan?
- Until now, Iran was, at best, informed about the talks to achieve peaceful settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Tehran can never be a direct participant in the negotiation process. Iran is not a member of the OSCE and included in Minsk Group. So, Iran has no part in the talks. But as a bordering country, they have their own interests and role. Thus, they are being informed about the talks. Following the visit of Iranian president, Turkish president and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister is expected to pay a visit to Moscow. I think the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh will be brought up in the meeting of presidents. We would really wish that the problem would be seriously discussed there and they understand that as long as the conflict remains unsolved and the status-quo unchanged, a new war may break out in the region. If a new war breaks out in this conflict, it can become impossible to keep it local. So, we would really like it if Russian and Iranian presidents discussed this issue and made any effort to bring Armenia to its sense. Unfortunately, all the actions taken in this regard have failed, so far.
- Economic Cooperation Organization has another summit in Pakistan recently. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan touched upon the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh during his speech in the summit. He noted that the Minsk group had been unable to resolve the conflict and that we had to take matters into our own hands.
- It’s not very realistic to settle Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the help of the organization you mentioned. And it’s not realistic to assume any resolute action will be taken. But if they show solidarity, then we can expect some result. I’m not talking about reacting by issuing statements of adopting resolutions. For example, Pakistan and Turkey have openly declared that they won’t establish ties with this country unless they leave the Azerbaijani territories they have occupied. Uzbekistan has also taken a similar position. If other Islamic countries show their support through action, not only in word, it might have an effect on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.