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“Winning peace, not war”

By Tahir Taghizade, Ambassador of Azerbaijan in the UK :-

During the last 10 days, there was a huge flow of information in international as well as British media, not to mention the social networks, with regard to recent upsurge in Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Among these, is one simple, yet very strong element of reality that always stands out: Armenia occupied and ethnically cleansed Nagorno Karabakh and 7 adjacent regions of Azerbaijan and the UN Security Council Resolutions (823, 854, 874, 884) of 1993 demanding immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from occupied territories of Azerbaijan, remain unfulfilled.

When one analyzes the current policy of the Armenian leadership, especially newly introduced “measures” by Nikol Pashinian, I personally cannot help but recall the article by the First President of Armenia, Levon Ter Petrosyan published by Hayastani Hanrapetutiun back in 1997. Many believe that this was the most profound piece of writing on Nagorno Karabakh ever penned in Armenia since the beginning of the conflict. It was called “War or peace: Time to get serious”.

Among other things like acknowledging the impossibility of sustaining status-quo and superiority of international norms and warning against unrealistic goals and false illusions, Ter Petrosyan was arguing that it would have been easy for him to go to the United Nations and demand the recognition of the “Armenian genocide”; it would have been very simple to push on Turks to implement the Treaty of Sevres and it would have been very easy to recognize the independence of “Karabakh” and declare that not a single inch of it will be given away. He wrote that these would have made him the idol of Armenian nationalists. But that, he claimed, at the same time, would have taken Armenia straight into abyss.

When Nikol Pashinian came to power in 2018, many regarded this as the beginning of a new and constructive phase for the negotiations process. Unfortunately these hopes have been thrown into doubt due to the never-ending provocative actions, inflammatory rhetoric and irresponsible behavior of Armenia’s political-military leadership within the last two years.

To put it simply, provocations carried out by the Armenian leadership, both in word and in deed, including Pashinian’s visit to Shusha in May 2020 to inaugurate the so-called “president” of the self-proclaimed regime in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, his provocative “Karabakh is Armenia, Period” statement made in the occupied city of Khankendi in August, 2019, the introduction of a “new war for new territories” concept by Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan in March 2019, putting forward 7 pre-conditions in the conflict settlement negotiations, as well as attempts to change the talks format, have dealt a blow to the conflict settlement process mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. And I named but a few.

Having failed in its attempt to provoke Azerbaijan by endangering energy infrastructure or by dragging the CSTO into the conflict back in July 2020 (when Armenia attacked Azerbaijan alongside the international border in Tovuz region), Armenia launched another act of aggression against my country starting from September 27. And now this is a true moment of test for the international community to stand firmly behind the very norms and principles that they adhered to back in 1945 when the United Nations was established. By shelling Azerbaijan’s cities, civilian population and infrastructure far removed from the conflict zone, Armenia flagrantly violates international humanitarian law, blatantly and at an unheard scope.

There are several tendencies which worry me a lot during these days just as anyone caring about the stability in the region:

  • Growing anti-Azerbaijan paranoia in Armenian society. I hope my friends from Conciliation Resources hear me;
  • Diaspora’s distractive role: Every day we come across a number of news reports as well as social media excerpts on people of Armenian descent living in Russia, Lebanon, Greece, Syria and elsewhere trying to and sometimes succeeding in getting to Nagorno Karabakh to fight against my country;
  • Regional players who seem to be at a loss sometimes;
  • Ineptness of the OSCE Minsk Group and obvious bias by some among its Co-Chairmanship institute;
  • Lack of necessary international pressure. Plain calls for immediate peace without enforcing the norms and principles of international law are useless at best and at the very worst contribute to presumed impunity enjoyed by Armenia in spite of its ever aggressive policy.

Despite having suffered heavy civilian casualties as a result of Armenia’s yet another act of aggression which definitely adds to outburst of emotions in Azerbaijani society, my country is ready to address these issues in a substantive manner. For as, eventually, it is about winning peace, not about winning war.

Now, the decision lies with Armenia. I wonder what it prefers. Do they aim at finally ending this occupation and achieving lasting peace and stability in South Caucasus which will eventually lead to their own prosperity or hiding behind nationalist delusions which have taken them exactly to what Ter Petrosyan envisaged: brink of the abyss? end.

Disclaimer: views expressed are not of The London Post

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