Author: Natig NAZIMOGLU
Another cycle of tensions is observed in the region of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict because of Yerevan’s categorical refusal to change the current status quo established after the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, as well as the unwillingness of international mediators to exert pressure on Armenian aggressors.
Substantive but not secondary talks
The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group Igor Popov (Russia), Stéphane Visconti (France) and Richard Hoagland (USA) traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh and confirmed the necessity of conducting substantive negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The statement of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs contains a traditional appeal to the parties to the conflict to avoid further escalation of the situation. The mediators believe that the participation of Azerbaijan and Armenia in substantive negotiations “in good faith and with political will” is “the only way to bring a lasting peace to the people of the region, who expect and deserve progress in the settlement of the conflict”.
Thus, the co-chairs called for the immediate start of substantive negotiations, which means the negotiations on essential issues of the conflict settlement. It is worth mentioning that Baku has been insisting on holding these talks for the last several years. Yerevan delays the peaceful resolution of the conflict by all possible means, trying to reduce the scope of negotiations to the discussion of minor problems such as the introduction of a mechanism for investigating incidents along the contact line. However, the most important fundamental issue, which is the occupation of Azerbaijani lands and the presence Armenian troops on the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan, remains unsolved.
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov supported the appeal of the OSCE co-chairs and recalled that our country had repeatedly expressed its readiness for substantive negotiations, which could lead to positive results if based upon “good intentions”.
Meanwhile, it is obvious that Yerevan is reluctant to take part in the negotiations because it does not support any changes to the existing status quo, as it means the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Hence, the Armenian provocations on the contact line of the troops, which lead to escalation of the situation in the conflict zone.
Just before the visit of the OSCE MG Co-Chairs to Azerbaijan, the Armenian armed forces have repeatedly violated the cease-fire regime by shelling Azerbaijani settlements from artillery installations. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry reports about six Armenian militaries killed as a result of response measures.
At the meeting with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Baku, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan drew their attention to the aggravation of the situation in the conflict zone by Armenia and obstruction of the activities of the mediators. “As always, our army responded adequately and you know the results of our response. The Armenian side continues its provocations before an important event or your visit, as we witnessed several times - in 2014, 2016 and today. They certainly know that we will respond adequately to any military provocation against the peaceful Azerbaijani population and our military,” noted Mr. Aliyev.
The words of the Azerbaijani leader were confirmed immediately after the visit of the mediators to the conflict region and the announcement of their statements. The Armenian military began shelling Azerbaijani positions and settlements with machine guns and mortars, and an Armenian sabotage group made an attempt to cross the line of defense of the Azerbaijani military. However, the sabotage group was forced to retreat with one of the saboteurs was captured.
In addition, an Armenian UAV was shot down during the reconnaissance flight over the Azerbaijani positions in Terter region. According to the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, the Armenian military used troops and military drones on the contact line. However, “because of their poor quality, the UAVs did not cause any damage to the subdivisions of the Azerbaijani military.”
No doubt that the “poor quality of Armenian drones” is one of the signs of general systemic crisis of the Armenian pseudo-state still saber-rattling thanks to the unrelenting support of Yerevan by certain world powers. Meanwhile, by suppressing Armenian provocations on the front line, Baku once again signals to Yerevan that Azerbaijan will never reconcile with the occupation of its lands. The readiness and determination of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan to solve any tasks related to the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity was demonstrated in the course of large-scale operational and tactical military exercises of our army. Earlier, the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan and Turkey did tactical exercises in Nakhchivan, where the military units and armies of both countries were put on full alert.
Signs of Jojug Marjanly
At the end of June, President Ilham Aliyev made a series of landmark statements that once again testify both to the position of Baku in the process of settling the conflict and the prospect of its peaceful solution solely on the basis of the principles and norms of international law, territorial integrity of states.
“There is no other way. Nagorno-Karabakh is the native land of Azerbaijan. For centuries our people lived in this territory, all toponyms and historical monuments reflect the history of Azerbaijan,” said Mr. Aliyev at the opening ceremony of the plant for the production of component parts for turret grenade launchers in Shirvan. Mr. President reminded that “all the leading international organizations adopted decisions and resolutions on this issue, according to which the armed forces of Armenia must immediately and unconditionally leave the occupied territories. However, Armenia does not fulfill them. I would like to repeat that we live in the conditions of war. Our people will never accept this situation. We will never allow a second Armenian state to be illegally established on our historical lands. We will restore our territorial integrity. Recent developments and the strengthening of our country increase our ability to address this issue.”
President Aliyev expressed his confidence in the soon release of the occupied territories and the restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan at the Iftar ceremony on the occasion of the holy month of Ramadan.
Undoubtedly, among the factors noted by Ilham Aliyev “increasing our capabilities” is the strengthening of the Azerbaijani army and the country's defense potential. This was confirmed during the armed clashes in April 2016, which culminated in the conquest of a number of strategic positions in the occupied territories by the Azerbaijan military. The result of the victory in the “four-day war” was, in particular, the restoration of the village of Jojug Marjanly, which was destroyed by the Armenian military. Establishment of full control and restoration of this village, as well as the return of Azerbaijanis to their homes is a sign of Azerbaijan's great victory in Karabakh. It is no accident that on the instructions of Ilham Aliyev the village’s mosque was built similar to the famous Shusha mosque. This should be a message for Armenia.
In mid-June, President Aliyev personally controlled the restoration works in this village and met with its residents. Mr. Aliyev stated that the historic day of restoration of Jojug Marjanly was made possible by the successful counteroffensive operation of the Azerbaijani army. As a result, the village got a new breath, life returns.
Immediately upon his return to Baku, Mr. President allocated additional ₼9 million (more than $5 million) for the improvement and construction activities in Jojug Marjanly. This is also a message to the peaceful Armenian population of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Hostages of the aggressive policy of Yerevan, Karabakh Armenians, for the most part left their homes, and those who could not leave are forced to live in miserable conditions side watching a rapid development of neighboring Azerbaijani regions.
Thus, the Armenian side has more and more reasons to think about what leads to such a strongly advocated status quo. The economic crisis in Armenia is becoming more fatal than ever. But the main thing is that the Azerbaijanis return to the liberated from the occupation and reconstructed homes at the moment when the residents of Armenia prefer to leave the country massively, unable to maintain despair.
When will the aggressor be appeased?
The only way to save Armenia is to establish cooperation with Azerbaijan, the leading state in the South Caucasus, the initiator and driving force of the largest regional economic integration projects. However, this path is closed to Armenia as long as it continues to occupy Azerbaijani lands. The criminal Sargsyan regime will prefer to finally leave the country than to abandon its aggressive power against Azerbaijan.
At the same time, we must again state that international mediators, represented by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, bear responsibility for the anti-Azerbaijani policy implemented by Armenia. Restricting themselves to observational functions, they have not bothered to condemn the aggressor - Armenia, for more than a quarter of a century; to urge her resolutely to observe international law and, accordingly, to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Moreover, they have never discussed the possibility of imposing any sanctions against Yerevan. Although the current practice of international relations abounds in examples, when the same great powers use all possible levers of influence (from economic embargoes to direct military intervention) to countries that for one reason or another have displeased the global centers of power.
Recently, not only the OSCE Minsk Group, but also the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and other powers have expressed concern over the frequent violations of the ceasefire regime that caused casualties on the contact line of troops in Nagorno-Karabakh. They confirmed the instability of the status quo, and supported the idea of holding “substantive negotiations,” but at the same time, they have not mentioned anything about the results of Yerevan’s further rejection of substantive dialogue.
It is worth mentioning the position of Russia, which now and then announces various settlement projects, starting from the Kazan document and ending with the so-called “Lavrov's plan”, but does not dare force its South Caucasus outpost to peace. As a result, almost a year after the last meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia held in St. Petersburg with the mediation of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is once again heated to the limit.
Therefore, it seems reasonable to ask if the interested foreign powers start a policy of pacification of aggressive Armenia. A negative response to this question leaves Azerbaijan no alternative but launching a full-scale liberation war.