How Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan see Armenian-Azerbaijani problems
The Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Azerbaijan made speeches during the online meeting of the Council of CIS Heads of State. During their speeches, Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan, in addition to addressing the issues related to the Commonwealth, touched upon the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and the problems that remain unresolved since the end of the second Karabakh war.
Topics and quotes from the speeches of both leaders.
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Aliyev’s speech: “Azerbaijan is ready to normalize relations”
Aliyev noted that the post-conflict period “is generally calm”:
“I say post-conflict, because the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a thing of the past. Azerbaijan restored its territorial integrity, fulfilled the UN Security Council resolutions demanding the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of the Armenian occupation forces from the territory of Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan resolved the conflict with Armenia by military-political means”.
The President of Azerbaijan noted the “special role” of Russian President Putin in the cessation of hostilities, “which made it possible to avoid thousands of casualties on both sides”.
He recalled that in accordance with the trilateral statement, Armenia “withdrew its occupation forces from the occupied parts of the Aghdam, Lachin and Kalbajar regions of Azerbaijan. Prior to that, the armed forces of Azerbaijan liberated more than 300 cities and villages on the battlefield”.
In accordance with the trilateral agreement, Russian peacekeepers were brought into the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. To resolve issues related to the reopening of transport communications, a working group was created under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Ministers of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Azerbaijani side has built a Russian-Turkish monitoring center on the territory of the Aghdam region of Azerbaijan, Aliyev added.
The main problems
“The main problems facing Azerbaijan now are the clearance of the liberated territories and the restoration of destroyed infrastructure, buildings, houses, historical monuments of the Azerbaijani people.
After the war, more than 150 Azerbaijani citizens were killed or seriously injured by being blown up by mines. Armenia refuses to give us the complete maps of the minefields. The small number of such maps that were transferred to Azerbaijan have an accuracy of about 25%.
In the liberated territories, almost all buildings and historical monuments have been destroyed over the years of almost 30-year occupation. Of the 67 mosques in the liberated territories, 65 have been completely destroyed. In the remaining two, dilapidated, the invaders kept pigs and cows, deliberately insulting the feelings of Muslims. In the city of Fizuli and all villages of the Fizuli region, 100% of buildings and houses were destroyed. The same is in the city of Aghdam and the Aghdam region. The city of Agdam is named “Hiroshima of the Caucasus”. In the Jebrail region, only two buildings remained intact, where the servicemen of the Armenian armed forces were housed. The situation is similar in Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin and Kalbajar regions.
In the city of Shusha, Armenia destroyed 16 out of 17 mosques that existed before the occupation. One was left to demonstrate “tolerance”, and with the complicity of the so-called specialists from Iran, there was an attempt to present it as Persian. Houses and public buildings were torn down into bricks and stones and sold to Armenia and Iran. This is the legacy of the Armenian vandalism perpetrated in the territories of Azerbaijan.
Also, huge damage was caused to nature, about 60,000 hectares of forests were cut down, sawn and sold to Armenia and Iran. Illegal exploitation of gold deposits and other natural resources was carried out. With the participation of a European company, the transboundary Okhchuchay River was systematically polluted, which led to an environmental disaster, already confirmed by reputable international experts.
This is the real picture in the liberated territories, and this could be seen by thousands of politicians, diplomats, journalists from many countries who have visited the liberated territories in less than a year, including representatives of the CIS countries”, the head of the Azerbaijani state said in his speech.
Drug trafficking through Iran and Karabakh
He said that over the past year, after Azerbaijan regained control over the 130-kilometer section of the state border with Iran, which was under the control of Armenia for about 30 years, “and thereby blocked the route of drug trafficking from Iran through the Jebrail region of Azerbaijan to Armenia and further to Europe, the volume of heroin seized by us on other parts of the Azerbaijani-Iranian border has doubled compared to the same period of previous years. This suggests that for about 30 years, Armenia, in collusion with Iran, used the former occupied territories of Azerbaijan to carry out drug trafficking to Europe”.
“During the years of occupation, I have repeatedly stated that the occupied territories are used for drug trafficking and the training of international terrorists. Today it is a proven fact”, he added.
The “prisoners of war” issue
“I would like to touch upon the issue of the so-called Armenian prisoners of war. Azerbaijan handed over all the prisoners of war detained during the war earlier than Armenia handed over the Azeri prisoners of war to us. More than two weeks after the signing of the trilateral statement, at the end of November last year, a sabotage group of 62 people was thrown from the Shirak region of Armenia to the rear of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces to the already liberated territories to commit sabotage, was disarmed and captured by the Azerbaijani military. In accordance with international conventions, these saboteurs cannot be considered prisoners of war.
War and conflict remain in history. We are ready to start negotiations with Armenia on the delimitation of the border, subject to mutual recognition of territorial integrity, and we are also ready to start negotiations on a peace agreement with Armenia. Azerbaijan, as a winning country, is ready to normalize relations. We hope that the Armenian leadership will not miss out on this historic chance”, Ilham Aliyev summed up his speech.
Pashinyan’s speech: “We are ready for change”
On the situation in the region
The Prime Minister of Armenia stated that the region is on the verge of important transformations and, with the manifestation of political will and wisdom, they can change the existing picture and lead to the formation of conditions for true peace and stability:
“We are ready for such changes, moreover, they coincide with our vision of the future. The Armenian government in its program has set the goal of opening a new era of peaceful development for our country and our region. […] However, there are many factors that cast doubt on the possibility of peace in our region”.
What threatens peace in the region
Pashinyan noted that despite all political efforts and contrary to the trilateral statement, people continue to die both in Nagorno-Karabakh and on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. In this regard, he proposed “to strengthen the trilateral mechanisms for investigating incidents and observing the ceasefire and all hostilities”.
According to the Armenian Prime Minister, “the rhetoric of enmity and hatred, constant threats and provocations have become a daily routine for us”. However, Pashinyan said that his government is determined to do everything to achieve peace and stability:
“And we have a clear idea of how to achieve this goal. Dialogue and gradual overcoming of the atmosphere of enmity, unfortunately, existing in our region, unblocking of all transport and economic communications is the only way”.
On the implementation of the agreements reached
The Prime Minister of Armenia insists on the implementation of the agreements that were reached in the trilateral statements, including on unblocking communications in the region. He stressed that the Armenian side is working on this and can open communications with Azerbaijan if this unblocking is of a mutual nature.
In accordance with the vision of Yerevan, “Armenia will receive a railway and automobile connection with Russia through the territory of Azerbaijan, as well as a railway connection with Iran, and Azerbaijan – a connection with Nakhichevan through the territory of Armenia”.
Pashinyan reiterated that the Azerbaijani side did not fulfill the 8th paragraph of the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020 – returning of Armenian prisoners of war, hostages and other detainees.
He reaffirmed his readiness to hand over to Baku the maps of minefields of territories that are in the rear of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces and pose a humanitarian threat.
“““““Demarcation and delimitation of borders
Nikol Pashinyan said that Armenia is ready to start the process of defining borders with Azerbaijan with the support of Russia and other international partners. However, he considers the atmosphere in which the process will be conducted is important:
“It is difficult to imagine work on the demarcation and delimitation of borders, which were recently violated by Azerbaijan and where there is regular shooting. In particular, I mean the section of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Sotk-Khoznavar region”.
In this regard, the prime minister recalled his proposal:
- mirror the armed units of both countries,
- take into account the border line between Armenia and Azerbaijan, recorded on legally recognized and justified maps of the Soviet Union,
- place Russian border guards and / or international observers there.
According to Pashinyan, Russia also supports this scheme, and Armenia is waiting for the resumption of work in this direction.
Signing a peace treaty
The Armenian prime minister considers it important to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. For this, in his opinion, it is necessary to restore the negotiation process within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship.
Recently, the co-chairs have repeatedly called for the resumption of negotiations on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
In this regard, Pashinyan noted the importance of his recent meeting of the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the sidelines of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, as well as their talks, which took place the day before, on October 14 in Minsk, with the participation of the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Pashinyan considers the upcoming visit of the co-chairs to the region, including Nagorno-Karabakh, an important step.
Normalization of relations with Turkey
Pashinyan also considers it important to start the conversation on the normalization of relations with Turkey. According to him, this is another factor that could play a catalytic role in establishing peace in the region. The prime minister said that Russia has expressed its readiness to support this process.
Claims to the International Court of Justice
Nikol Pashinyan considered that the platform of the CIS heads of state is not a place for considering mutual accusations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and clarifying historical facts.
He told the meeting participants that both countries have submitted claims to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Here Armenia intends to “voice all its accusations and substantiate its position on the Karabakh conflict”.
At the end of his speech, Nikol Pashinyan decided to react to the statement of the President of Azerbaijan on the transportation of drugs through the territory of Iran and Armenia. He said that the volume of suppressed attempts to transport drugs increased not only in Azerbaijan, but also in Armenia:
“We work very closely with Iranian law enforcement agencies and very effectively fight against drug trafficking. I can also provide figures on the facts of suppression of attempts to transport drugs and the amount, volume of seized drugs, which after the war increased by 3-4 times”.