( Exclusive interview by Dr Shahid Qureshi, Chief Editor )
In the context of recent tensions between Armenia-Azerbaijan we conducted an Interview with Dr. Javanshir Feyziyev, MP of Azerbaijan, Co-chair of the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, and Head of the UK-Azerbaijan Interparliamentary Working Group.
We asked him following questions:
1. Can you please tell us situation at the borders with Armenia after the recent tensions?
The tension is happening in the territory of Azerbaijan, at the contact line of Armenian military forces keeping Azerbaijani territories under occupation for approximately 30 years. Approximately at 6 am this morning Armenian military forces in occupied Karabakh territory started shelling the villages alongside the contact line. Many homes have been destroyed and there are military and civilian casualties. The Azerbaijani army, as the Armenians should have expected, took the necessary steps to protect the local population and launched a counter-offensive. Armenia immediately turned to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for military assistance, and it is clear from this that it wants to confront Azerbaijan with the CSTO member-countries. But we understand that intervention in the conflict inside a country that is not a member of this organization is not within the competence of the CSTO. Events take place in Karabakh, which is not an integral part of Armenia, but an integral part of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia three decades earlier.
2. Just recently, this year in July there was an attempt by Armenians to attack border guard forces of Azerbaijan. As we understand from the news, it was unexpected, nevertheless Azerbaijan could defeat it. Was it expected this time? Were there any signs showing the Armenians to prepare an attack?
The military escalation of the situation was expected. As you recall, in July Armenia made an attempt to attack the positions of the border guard service of Azerbaijan on the state border between the two countries. All oil and gas communications, transporting oil and gas in the direction of Europe pass near this section of the border. Then it was clear what goal the Armenian armed forces were pursuing and on whose order they were making the attack. Although we had military and civilian casualties in those clashes, the Azerbaijani army managed to prevent the offensive of the Armenians.
Immediately after these military clashes, we learned that a huge amount of weapons were being secretly supplied to Armenia. Later it turned out that from mid-July to early September Armenia received various types of weapons in the volume of 1000 tons. The illegal supply of weapons was carried out by Russia and Serbia, about which the official authorities of Azerbaijan openly presented their claims to these states. Simultaneously with the receipt of illegal weapons, back in August, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan announced the creation of a volunteer militia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, consisting of several tens of thousands of people. At the same time, he stated that there can be no talk of the liberation of the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Going even further in early September, the Armenian government issued an open appeal to the Armenians of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, urging them to resettle in the occupied territories, promising them free housing and social support. A little later, Armenian TV channels showed footage of Lebanese Armenians resettling in Karabakh, who posed for cameras against the background of the flags of the terrorist organization ASALA. All this foreshadowed that Armenia was preparing some kind of military provocation. All this worried Azerbaijan and we sensed the bad intentions of the Armenian government. In
addition, Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan publicly stated that they would not only withdraw their troops from the occupied territories, on the contrary, they would continue the war to conquer new territories. Quite recently, the Armenian Defense Ministry conducted a stinking exercise involving the newly created so-called militia on the territory of Karabakh. Even the wife of the Prime Minister of Armenia, Anna Hakobyan, participated in these exercises in military uniform, with a Kalashnikov assault rifle in her hands. She publicly advocated the creation of an Armenian women’s battalion on the territory of Azerbaijan. All these events disturbed us and we felt that there would be a new provocation, even with the involvement of some terrorist organizations from Middle East, like ASALA.
3. How do you think international community can help in reducing the tensions?
The permanent tension is the result of the occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenian military forces backed by soviet troops located in Armenia in early 90’s. in 1993 Security Council of the UN adopted 4 Resolutions urging Armenia to immediate withdraw of all military forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories. Nevertheless during 30 years Armenia did not meet the requirements of these resolutions. On the contrary, Armenia tried in every possible way to illegally populate the occupied lands with Armenian refugees from the Middle East countries, as well as with terrorist organizations from different countries in order to change demographic situation in place. Over the past 30 years, Armenia has tried to erase the traces of Azerbaijan on the occupied territories by destroying the cultural, material heritage of Azerbaijanis who have lived on this land for thousands of years. So to reduce or even to eliminate the tension in the region is possible only by ending the occupation and to end the occupation Armenia has to fulfill the Resolutions of the Security Council of UN by withdrawing its illegal military forces from the Azerbaijani territories.
4. What role Russia can play in the resolution of the NK issue?
Russia is one of the 3 co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the OCSE which is called upon to find ways to peacefully resolve the conflict. As you can be aware the other 2 co-chairs of the Minsk Group are France and the USA. Unfortunately, during the 30 years of its creation, the Minsk Group has not achieved a single success in resolving the conflict. On the contrary, Armenia, taking advantage of the truce, began to illegally populate the occupied Azerbaijani lands. We all know that the Azerbaijani lands were occupied in early 1990’s by the Armenians with the help of the Soviet troops stationed in Armenia back in those times. Later, similar conflicts also appeared in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I believe that all these conflicts are of the same nature. Russia has always publicly expressed its will in support of a peaceful settlement, but unfortunately for three decades it did not succeed in moving the solution to the conflict off the ground. I want to believe that Russia will support now Azerbaijan’s efforts to restore its territorial integrity.
5. What is role of USA in the region and your expectations?
The United States is one of the 3 co-chairs of the Minsk Group., which fully supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The US supports also Azerbaijan’s aspiration to integrate
into the European political and economic system. At the same time, Azerbaijan is the only source of energy supply to Europe, alternative to Russia, and the USA highly value and support Azerbaijan’s role in ensuring energy security in Europe.
6. What support you need at this time from UK and European Union?
The European Union as well as the UK are the largest business partners and investors in Azerbaijan. So they know very well the details of the conflict and the real current situation in place. They unequivocally support territorial integrity of my country and urge Armenia to withdraw its military forces from the occupied territories. Azerbaijan harbors great hopes on both the European Union and Great Britain in supporting its position, in particular, support in restoring the country’s territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders, according to the rules of International Law.
7. What kind of role China play and your relations with China?
So far China has not participated in the resolution of this conflict in any way, but China has always declared its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, like all other world powers. Azerbaijan is successfully cooperating with China in the framework of the project “one road- one belt”. Azerbaijan is a link between China and Europe, thanks to the transnational transport communications created by Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan does not lay claim to anyone’s territory, but at the same time demands its illegally occupied lands back. The first ever Armenian state was created on the primordial Azerbaijani lands in 1918 under the pressure of big powers and now, after 100 years, we cannot allow the creation of a second Armenian state on our own territories. All occupied territories must be freed and about 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons have to go back to their home.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are not of The London Post