"“Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will not be delayed as before”"

18 May 2016, 15:35 6578
Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan hold another meeting in Austrian capital Vienna on the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. John Kerry, Sergey Lavrov, Harlem Desir, co-chairs and the Personal Representative of OSCE chairman Andrzej Kasprzyk attended the meeting. Zahid Oruj, MP, member of the permanent parliamentary commission on security and defense, answered "“Kaspi"'s questions” about the outcomes of the meeting. 

- Zahid, how do assess the meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Vienna? 

- As Vienna talks were held after widespread violation of ceasefire after more than 20 years of occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and “four day war” in early April, it has a special importance for the region, interested international circles, Azerbaijan and Armenia. This meeting should be distinguished from the previous ones. First of all, Armenian claims that they would only negotiate after being reassured of an environment of real confidence and security and that ceasefire wouldn’t be violated all stayed in the background.  As we witnessed, Azerbaijan and its president wasn’t met with any accusation or sanctions by any country. Baseless claims and conditions of Armenia were not accepted. It shows neither Serzh Sargsyan nor his statements have any real value. Additionally, it was the first time that the foreign ministers of three co-chairs, permanent members of UN Security Council came together and discussed the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. This conflict was never discussed at such a high level before. All these developments were the result of the 4 day war in the beginning of April and strengthened Azerbaijan’s position during talks. Those who wanted to leave the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict until after the Iraq, Afghanistan and other problems were solved and told us to wait our turn, raised the issue of Karabakh at an international level after the events of early April. It’s not a coincidence that John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov talked about this this conflict on the phone. But what saddens us is that despite happening a long time before the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is now being discussed alongside Syrian problem. Nevertheless, the main point is that the talks have moved on from stalemate and people who viewed it as a frozen conflict now realize they were wrong. 

- You probably are aware of the latest statement of the Russian Foreign Minister. What kind of impression did this statement left in you in regards to resolving the conflict? 

- Before answering this question, I’d like to draw attention to another point. Sargsyan invites the Western observers to the region. What’s the point of this invitation?  By doing this, Armenian president  openly complains about Russia and it demonstrates that they don’t believe the official stance of Kremlin and most importantly, that they are looking for another master. But all of these efforts of Sargsyan end up being unsuccessful. As for the statement of the Russian FM, he claims the parties will put forth a real position at the end of June so that they can hold talks on the last phase of Nagorno Karabakh conflict based on the agreement principle. What this means is the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict will not be delayed as it was in the past. Azerbaijani president has entered the negotiations with a great power, political will and united stance of the people. But it is impossible to say the same about Armenians. There is no unity between parliament and president in Armenia. There are those who oppose Sargsyan even within the government. The army also doesn’t want to acknowledge the president. Taking these into consideration, the Vienna talks may really be decisive in the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict. It’s likely that we will see certain steps taken in accordance with the agreement plan proposed by Russia. We hope that unlike the leaders before him, Vladimir Putin take a fair and just stance to restore peace in Southern Caucasus and will do something in this direction. Russian president has the ability to do it and the regional countries will accept it. Because the international union comes to the region when this conflict is not settled. If the conflict is resolved, then Russia’s position in the region becomes stronger. 

- As you mentioned, foreign ministers of the USA, Russia and France personally attended the Vienna talks. What does it indicate? Do co-chairs really want the settlement of the conflict? 

- Sergey Lavrov openly stated that the USA wanted to hold Vienna meeting and Russia agreed to it. After Russia called for refraining from heavy operations at April 5, the West didn’t want to agree to Russia having the monopoly over the resolution of the Karabakh conflict and the political process in the new stage of talks. The USA and France wants to have an active role in the negotiation process so that even though they cannot prevent the war with phone calls or statements, they wouldn’t be left out of the game in the subsequent processes. On the other hand, as there is an obvious competition for the control of the Caucasus, many evaluate what kind of realities the war would reveal. They are thinking of destruction of infrastructure and damages done to the transnational projects that hurt their interests. Or what kind of consequences of the West taking the side of Armenia or the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan would bring. 
All these factors are being carefully examined in the West, Russia and even neighbor Iran. The most important thing for us to know is that if Nagorno Karabakh conflict gets a fair resolution, other problems in the region would be solved as well. Therefore, the big powers “warm their hands” in the Syrian problem, they don’t want to keep the issue of Nagorno Karabakh between two countries but rather at a higher level. We are not in favor of igniting another war in the region with the influence of external powers. The April events proved that when no external powers interferes with the process, the might of our army allows us to settle the conflict in a fair way. I think everyone is aware of the fact that if we don’t see fair position from Brussels and Strasbourg or other capital city, we are capable of settling the conflict by military means. 

-Do you think it will be possible to force Armenia to agree to resolving the conflict in stages?  

- If no real step is taken in the next stage, a second path will start for Armenia. This is the path of rapid weaponization and seeking foreign allies. And this will result in disaster for Armenia. Because the former president Levon Ter Petrosyan had agreed to take serious steps in the previous talks. A military junta consisting of Robert Kocheryan , Serzh Sargsyan and others immediately staged a coup d’etat and shot the deputies in the parliament several years later. Therefore under current circumstances stepping away from the plans of Russia will result in another round of shooting, assassinations and terror in Yerevan. And the most serious of all, if Armenia wants to compete with Azerbaijan in arming, they will have to cut down their expenses and spend money on the army. This will made their social and economic situation even worse. On the other hand, it’s not possible to put all of the population in trenches in Armenia. Even though they have occupied Azerbaijani lands for over 20 years, they haven’t been able to create a home for themselves there. Taking these into account, I think Azerbaijan has the upper hand in the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict. But as long as Sargsyan regime, war criminals are in power and not a normal political force, there will be problems in the resolution of the conflict.

Rufik Ismayilov