"Azerbaijan had to choose between bad and worse". Expert commentary on ceasefire agreement
Experts discuss the second Karabakh war ceasefire agreement
On the anniversary of the signing of the trilateral statement that put an end to the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijani experts assessed its pros and cons and discussed the prospects for the further development of the situation in the region.
Exactly one year ago, on November 10, 2020, the presidents of Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as the Prime Minister of Armenia, signed a trilateral agreement that put an end to the second Karabakh war. All subsequent events in the post-conflict period were tied to this agreement.
One of the leaders of the opposition Republican Alternative party Natig Jafarli and former Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov commented on the positive and negative consequences of signing the trilateral statement, and also shared their views on the further development of events in the region.
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“Azerbaijan had to choose between bad and worse”
“On the night of November 10, 2020, Azerbaijan had to choose between bad and worse. A few hours after the trilateral agreement was signed, Russian peacekeepers entered the territory of Karabakh. In other words, they were waiting for this.
I admit that if Azerbaijan did not agree to sign the document and continued the offensive, these forces would have ended up on our territory without our consent.
But there is also one very important point: the presence of Russian troops on the territory of the country has not yet been ratified by the Azerbaijani parliament, which does not allow us to consider their presence in Karabakh, the internationally recognized territory of our country, as legitimate.
Will Russia leave Karabakh?
When asked whether Russia’s withdrawal from the region in four years is possible and what conditions will be required for this, the politician replied:
“In theory, in four years Azerbaijan may not renew the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers. But, as I have already said, they do not have this mandate. This is the theoretical part.
In practice, in order to withdraw Russian forces from the region, Azerbaijan and Armenia must solve all their problems and sign a peace treaty. Azerbaijan should also offer a clear program for the integration of Azerbaijanis of Armenian origin living in Karabakh. Only after this, the country can demand Russia to withdraw its peacekeepers. But to be honest, I can hardly imagine this happening.
We must also take into account the fact that Armenia itself is in no way interested in the departure of the Russian peacekeepers. In his last interview, Nikol Pashinyan stated unambiguously that Russian forces should remain in the region permanently. Thus, Armenia wants to shift all responsibility for the region onto the Russian Federation”.
‘Alternative’ Lachin corridor
“The sixth paragraph of the trilateral statement refers to the construction of an alternative route connecting Armenia with Khankendi [Armenians call this city Stepanakert – JAMnews].
As far as I know, the technical documentation for this road is ready, and is pending approval.
Of course, ideally, Armenia could also participate in financing the construction of the “alternative” Lachin corridor, but I do not think that this country will allocate money for this project. Azerbaijan will build this road on its territory.
The alternative road will give Azerbaijan an opportunity to get another safe road to Shusha liberated from occupation”, Natik Jafarli said.
“Russia will not directly confront Azerbaijan”
“By signing a trilateral statement on November 10, 2020, Azerbaijan gave the Armenian population of Karabakh a chance to live in this territory and reintegrate into the society of the country in which these lands are located.
I do not consider the arguments of some political scientists who, in all seriousness, say that if Azerbaijan had not signed this document – Russia would have gone into direct confrontation with our country. It was impossible.
Yes, some ‘little men’ and military equipment could have appeared there, but a direct confrontation with Azerbaijan would entail direct military operations against Turkey for Russia, ”former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov said.
Who benefits from the recognition of territorial integrity?
According to the former Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is beneficial primarily to Armenia itself:
“Let’s reason it like this: Armenia still does not recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. But at the same time, the prime minister of this country declares that Azerbaijan has violated the borders of Armenia. Excuse me, what border are we talking about?
If Armenia does not recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, in other words, the borders with this country, what borders can be violated?
Therefore, the mutual recognition of territorial integrity is beneficial first of all for Armenia itself. Otherwise, why should Azerbaijan adhere to some permanent borders of the Soviet era? And one more thing: Zangezur was transferred to Armenia by the Soviet authorities in 1929. What borders and how long should Azerbaijan, which is superior in military power to Armenia, adhere to?”
The future of the region
“No alternative is given here. There will be peace in the region only if Armenia learns to live in peace with its neighbors.
Armenia is currently at enmity with its main neighbors – Azerbaijan and Turkey. The population of the former is 10 million people, the latter is more than 80 million. Armenia, with a population of just over two million, must learn to live in peace with its neighbors.
One must know one thing: what is ‘mine’ and what is not and do not encroach on what is not. That is the whole secret of peace in the region”, said Tofig Zulfugarov.