The Karabakh conflict, a long-standing dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, has had profound implications for both nations. We sat down with Razi Nurullayev, a Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, Chairman of the National Front Party, and Member of the Human Rights Parliamentary Committee, to shed light on the intricacies of this issue.
Q: Please provide a brief historical context of Armenia's territorial claims against Azerbaijan.
A: Armenia's territorial ambitions towards Azerbaijan are rooted in their desire to annex the Karabakh region. This began in earnest in 1988 and is inspired by the "Miatsum" ideology. This idealizes a Greater Armenia extending from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea.
Q: How did this translate into actual conflict during the 1990s?
A: From 1990, armed hostilities intensified, leading to Armenia's occupation of 20% of Azerbaijani territories by 1994. Armenia's territorial claims are anchored in its constitution, emphasizing its strategic importance to the country.
Q: What has been the human cost of the conflict for Azerbaijan?
A: The 1990s were especially tumultuous. Ethnic and territorial cleansing led to the displacement of a million Azerbaijanis. Furthermore, Armenia's actions, perceived by many in Azerbaijan as genocidal, left indelible scars on the Azerbaijani psyche.
Q: How do international bodies perceive this conflict?
A: There's a diversity of opinion. However, organizations such as the UN, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the European Union have passed resolutions echoing Azerbaijan's territorial concerns. These acknowledgments can be seen as diplomatic victories for Azerbaijan.
Q: Turkey's role is often highlighted in discussions about the conflict. Can you elucidate on this?
A: Absolutely. Turkey has been a steadfast supporter of Azerbaijan, especially evident during the Second Karabakh War. The "Shusha Declaration" further cemented the bond between both nations, signaling a collective front for regional peace and security.
Q: What is Azerbaijan's perspective on the potential for peace in the region?
A: Azerbaijan ardently seeks a peaceful resolution and has proposed a comprehensive peace plan to Armenia. We believe in coexistence and urge the Armenian community to embrace the prospect of peace. If challenges arise, Azerbaijan is poised to safeguard its interests.
Q: Can you elaborate on the recent humanitarian efforts by Azerbaijan towards the Armenians in Karabakh?
A: On August 29th, our Red Crescent took the initiative to send humanitarian assistance from Baku directly to meet the needs of the Armenian residents of Karabakh. This aid includes a significant 40 tons of flour. Unfortunately, two trucks carrying this aid have been waiting for several days at a Russian peacekeeping checkpoint on the Agdam-Khankendi route.
Q: How is the Red Crescent team managing during this prolonged waiting period?
A: Our dedicated personnel and volunteers have been spending their nights in tents set up in the area. Their unwavering mission? To deliver this essential aid to the Armenian citizens in Karabakh.
Q: Were there any concerns or verifications sought regarding the quality of the aid?
A: Absolutely. In the spirit of transparency, our representatives in the area presented the quality certificate of the shipment to the temporarily stationed Russian peacekeeping forces. Discussions are currently ongoing to ensure the aid's timely delivery.
Q: Given the present standoff, do you believe the aid sent with genuine intentions will be successfully delivered?
A: Our intent in sending this aid was never for it to be returned. It was explicitly meant for Armenians in Khankendi—a region internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory. We hope and anticipate that the trucks will remain stationed until the intended recipients accept the aid. Our aim has always been clear—to offer assistance and also to counter any narrative suggesting an "Azerbaijani blockade." If there's a genuine need, why would anyone refuse assistance? It seems the preference is to accept aid exclusively from certain countries, such as France and Armenia.
Q: Has there been any official declaration of a humanitarian crisis in the region?
A: No, Azerbaijan has not declared a humanitarian crisis within its borders. There's no recognized humanitarian catastrophe in the Karabakh region. We have neither sought nor signaled any need for international assistance. Therefore, we aren't obligated to accept unsolicited aid on our territory.
Q: Given the existing challenges, how does Azerbaijan plan to ensure this aid reaches Khankendi, which is within its legal territory?
A: We remain committed to delivering the aid. Currently, as the area is under the oversight of Russian peacekeepers, we've requested their cooperation. Specifically, we've asked them to clear the Agdam-Khankendi route from any blockades set up by separatist forces and facilitate the entry of our humanitarian convoy into Khankendi. The ball is now in their court; they need to ensure the aid is delivered securely and promptly.
Q: Do you believe Armenia or Russia is preventing the delivery of Azerbaijani aid to Khankendi?
A: It's crucial to note that the primary resistance to the aid comes from the Armenians residing there. However, this doesn't sideline the significant influence that both Armenia and Russia exert over them. Should Armenia formally recognize Azerbaijan's territorial rights, not merely in words but in binding agreements, these local groups wouldn’t be as emboldened to oppose our sovereignty.
Russia's peacekeeping forces, under our trilateral accord, had the mandate to disarm Armenian "militant groups" and ensure that weapons don't end up in the hands of separatists. Such actions would have prevented these current challenges, keeping them aligned with international legal standards. Their inaction points to both Armenia and Russia being intrinsic to the underlying issue.
Lastly, our commitment remains unwavering: to uphold peace and security in the region. It's paramount that global stakeholders grasp the intricacies of this dilemma and the roles Armenia and Russia play in it.
Q: Any concluding remarks for our readers?
A: I'm truly grateful for the Sada El Balad English news website "SEE" to convey our stance. Our intent is transparent and resonates with a singular goal - championing peace and stability in the region.