30 September 2022

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RIGHT TO JUSTICE

Lyudmila MARCHENKO: "The majority of Ukrainians support Azerbaijan"

Author:

15.10.2020

Lyudmila Marchenko is a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the Servant of the People parliamentary faction of the ruling party of Ukraine. She is the deputy chairman of the group for inter-parliamentary relations with Azerbaijan. In recent years, Marchenko has been actively defending the position of Kyiv on supporting the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Her recent statement on the need for Kyiv to provide military and humanitarian aid to Azerbaijan caused a wide resonance in Ukraine, especially among the Armenian community of the country.

“Mrs. Marchenko, as you know, on September 27, after another provocation from the Armenian side, the Azerbaijani army launched a counter-offensive operation. Was this development of events unexpected for you, a Ukrainian politician and deputy of the Verkhovna Rada (VR)?”

“No, it wasn’t. Azerbaijan is successfully conducting a counteroffensive on its sovereign territory, implementing the provisions of Art. 51 of the UN Charter, the right to individual self-defense and the protection of their territory from illegal foreign military presence. Protecting its territory, preserving its integrity is one of the main functions of the state. In addition, it is quite obvious that the Azerbaijani people are tired of senseless negotiations on a peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. These negotiations last more than a quarter of a century, but as a result not a single meter of Azerbaijani land was released, although the international law has been on the side of Azerbaijan.

“All countries of the world, with the exception of Armenia, recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the self-proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic was not recognized by any state in the world, including Armenia. Plus, there are UN Security Council resolutions Nos. 822, 853, 874 and 884 and the UN General Assembly resolutions. They clearly state that the Armenian armed formations must leave the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Armenia has been ignoring them for over a quarter of a century. All these factors undoubtedly made the resumption of hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia inevitable.

“Also, the current Armenian leadership has made a number of statements and steps that made the negotiation process on a peaceful settlement of the conflict meaningless. Let’s recall the July provocation of Armenia in the Tovuz district of Azerbaijan, which is not of Karabakh at all. It was an attempt to involve a third country in the conflict and even the CSTO. Taking these factors into account, only one question came to my mind: when will the new stage of military confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia begin? We can already see the answer to this question.”

“You are now speaking as a politician and a person who has thoroughly studied the causes and consequences of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. How aware is the Ukrainian society, the average citizen of Ukraine about the conflict?”

“In general, Ukrainians were aware that there is a long-standing territorial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The details of this conflict were not so well known to our citizens. But the latest events at the front, which are actively covered by the local media, including TV channels, certainly gave Ukrainians more specific information about the essence, causes and consequences of the conflict. Plus, there were statements by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba about support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Finally, after my famous speech in support of Azerbaijan, which was commented on at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of our country, Ukrainians received detailed information about who is the occupying country in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and who is the victim.”

“Does the entire Ukrainian society support Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia?”

“We should know that there is a huge and very influential Armenian diaspora living in Ukraine. Its representatives hold high positions in the leadership of our country, are owners of large capital and have a wide circle of acquaintances, including among Ukrainian politicians, experts, and journalists. There are also deputies of the Verkhovna Rada who are members of the inter-parliamentary friendship group with Armenia. Naturally, they all impose their point of view on the current situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia on the Ukrainian society. But the majority of Ukrainians, in my opinion, support Azerbaijan.”

“Many people call the recent video message of an MP from the Opposition Platform - For Life (OPSL) party, Ilya Kiva, scandalous and provocative. He announced the "war between Turkey and Armenia" with an appeal to Orthodox Christians "to join the millennial confrontation between the Christian and Muslim world" and provide assistance to Armenia. The Azerbaijani Embassy to Ukraine even addressed the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Dmitry Razumkov on this issue...”

“I strongly believe that Mr. Razumkov will definitely respond to the appeal received from the Azerbaijani embassy. Ukraine has a law On the status of members of parliament. According to the law, a deputy has the right to voice his personal opinion. Another thing is that the MP who voiced his position was Ilya Kiva. Most experts, politicians and deputies believe that his statement can incite interreligious and interethnic hatred. It is unacceptable. This opinion is shared not only by me, but also by many deputies from the Servant of the People faction. The position of Kiva is at odds with the official position of Ukraine, which supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan. Although, perhaps this is why Kiva, who is a representative of the political opposition, made such a statement. At the same time, he had to be more careful in his choice of words.”

“You mentioned the influence of the Armenian diaspora in Ukraine. One of its leaders is the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov. In response to your statement about the possibility of providing comprehensive assistance to Baku, he said that Ukraine will not provide military assistance to Azerbaijan or Armenia. Do you agree with the opinion of experts who claim that Arsen Avakov exceeded his authority?”

- I cannot disagree with them. Indeed, he is not a member of the Verkhovna Rada, not the minister of foreign affairs or defense but he made a statement that was not within his terms of reference. But, as you rightly pointed out, Mr. Avakov is one of the most influential Armenians in Ukraine. And this can be seen in his attitude to certain issues.”

“You underlined that the Ukrainian president and foreign minister declared the support of their government to Azerbaijan in the conflict with Armenia. Is this connected, among other things, with the fact that Armenia did not support Ukraine in the Crimean issue?”

“Azerbaijan and Ukraine have always openly declared their mutual support for sovereignty and territorial integrity. But, of course, the annexation of Crimea by Russia led to the fact that we began to understand more the pain of the Azerbaijani people, 20% of whose territory has been under occupation for more than a quarter of a century. The fact that Armenia supported these actions of Russia in the UN, PACE and other international organizations also left an indelible mark on our position on the Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan, as a true and devoted friend, has always acted from the same positions with us, condemning the annexation of Crimea. You are taking an honest, objective attitude. We remember and appreciate this, supporting Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia.”

“You speak with great warmth about our country and our people...”

“In fact, my position is based on international law, which also shows that Azerbaijan is a victim of the occupation. To say something contrary to this would be biased. In addition, I am the deputy co-chairman of the group for inter-parliamentary relations with  Azerbaijan, which gives me a chance to get to know the details of problems and hopes of your people. I am proud of my friendship with many Azerbaijanis, including those living in Ukraine. Among them I would like to mention the head of the United Diaspora of Azerbaijanis in Ukraine, Hikmet Javadov. He is a great patriot of his country, his people. Finally, I have been to Azerbaijan more than once and therefore I understand perfectly how important a just solution to the Karabakh conflict is for your people. This is a great pain for thousands of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons. I know that they cherish a great hope to return to their homes, to the lands of their ancestors. Understanding all this pain and hopes, which will certainly come true, explains my position on the Karabakh issue.”



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