Ilham Aliyev: "International law works selectively"
Aliyev on the situation with Karabakh Armenians
The President of Azerbaijan commented on the situation between official Baku and the Armenian population of Karabakh. “We still have not lost hope that the sensible part of society that lives in Khankendi and its environs will still understand the futility of such ignoring of Azerbaijan and common sense will prevail. Otherwise, I think that only the naive can count on the fact that someone will come and fight for them,” Ilham Aliyev said.
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On July 21-22, the Shusha Global Media Forum was held on the topic “New Media in the Era of the 4th Industrial Revolution”. President Aliyev attended the opening ceremony and answered questions from journalists from different countries.
On the situation with the Karabakh Armenians
In response to a question from a Georgian journalist, the President of Azerbaijan commented on the situation in relations between official Baku and the Armenian population of Karabakh:
“Unfortunately, the junta that seized power in Karabakh and which calls itself “presidents”, then “ministers”, then “deputies”, causing laughter from everyone, took hostage those who now live in the territory where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily stationed.
We took the initiative, I appointed a special representative who was supposed to deal with representatives of the Armenians of Karabakh, and in order to establish these contacts, he was sent to Karabakh. The first meeting took place there, in the village of Khojaly, on the basis of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. After that, we invited representatives of the Armenians of Karabakh to come to Baku to continue the dialogue. But they refused, and defiantly. After some time, we invited them again, maybe there was some kind of mistake – it happens – a misfire, in order to make sure that they really either want or don’t want. And again there was a refusal. But then I said that there would be no third invitation. They don’t want to, so they don’t want to.
What happened next, you probably know well – the establishment of a border checkpoint on the state border of Azerbaijan and Armenia. If you trace the chronology of all our actions, even if you go to the beginning of the second Karabakh war, you will see the logic and very strong argumentation of your innocence. We didn’t do anything for which we would be ashamed or we would say: “Yes, we are wrong here.” We did everything right.
We gave them a chance, including to the Armenian leadership before the start of the second Karabakh war, for two years, but they did not take advantage of it. We gave them a chance at a time when the Lachin-Khankendi road was just a “passage yard” through which Armenia transported mines that were produced in Armenia in 2021. And we opened these mines, we found them. We invited representatives of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, as well as representatives of the Russian-Turkish monitoring center, which is located in Aghdam, and demonstrated and asked: “How did these mines get into Karabakh? Who brought them? And who watched? But it is impossible for us to die after the victory on our territory, because Armenia continues the terror!
So all our steps were logical, justified, legitimate, competent and sufficiently courageous. Therefore,the establishment of a border checkpoint on the border is an important stage in the post-conflict situation, which has largely changed the situation. And also the fact that these actions were fully accepted, although not immediately and not quite willingly by all the actors, but as a result were perceived as legitimate, was also a message. But how many times should we send messages, how many times can we hint? But was it not enough? And the Farrukh operation, and the situation on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in May 2021, and the situation on the border in September 2022, and the border checkpoint. Are they so clueless?
Now the issue of reintegration depends on when the Armenian residents of Karabakh will be able to get rid of these fetters, from this junta that took them hostage and exploited them as slaves. And now it is also exploiting, because when eco-activists came to the Lachin-Khankendi road, then the Armenian leadership, the so-called in Khankendi, did not allow ordinary citizens to use this road. They set up a roadblock, then accusing us of the blockade. Today they again put concrete slabs on the Aghdam-Askeran road. When we said: “Why should the products be delivered from another country? After all, Karabakh is Azerbaijan.” So right? So after all. Does everyone recognize this? Everyone recognizes. Does anyone say it’s not? No. And why should goods be delivered from another country? This is illogical. But instead of accepting this gesture, concrete blocks are placed there. So who is blocking whom? So that’s the whole point.
And today this comedy show, when they sit in a tent and protest against someone, it’s just a joke, you know. To protest against people who call themselves “presidents”, a sit-down strike – some journalists here joke: probably, the next stage will be a “lying” strike. Then I don’t know which one, but it won’t help the case. We are ready to follow the path of reintegration, respecting the rights and security of the Armenian minority in Karabakh, within the framework of our Constitution and within the framework of the good practice of how these issues are resolved in Azerbaijan as a whole.
Azerbaijan is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state, and this is our strength. All representatives of ethnic groups who live in Azerbaijan have the same rights and obligations, the same level of security. And why some ethnic group should stand out against this background is also not entirely clear to me.
Here is our approach. We still have not lost hope that the sane part of society, which lives in Khankendi and its environs, will nevertheless understand the futility of such ignoring of Azerbaijan and common sense will prevail. Otherwise, I think that now only the naive can count on the fact that someone will come and fight for them. They had several stages when they had to understand and come to terms with the realities.
They appealed to different authorities, to different countries, starting with neighboring ones, ending with some countries that are located further away. But no one is with us on the territory of Azerbaijan instead of them, I think that in their right mind they will not fight. Therefore, they must eventually understand and accept these realities. I have already said, I was told many times by mediators during the occupation, that “the first Karabakh war ended like this, you must accept the realities.” But I did not accept them and did not accept them. But now I say again: here, accept these realities, and already changing these realities will only and only – if it happens – not to the benefit of either Armenia or the Armenian minority in Karabakh. I hope that they will hear these words and draw the right conclusion.”
“International law works selectively”
“We have been dealing with this for many years. We raised our voice, calling to take into account the four resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council and demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from our lands. But these resolutions are not being implemented.
And now this trend is spreading. When international law does not work, when signatures mean little, the only guarantee of peace is force,” he stressed.
On the alliance with Russia
Answering a question from a Russian journalist, the Azerbaijani president noted that the declaration of alliance signed in February 2022 is a stage in the development of relations between Russia and Azerbaijan.
“Those small rough edges that we see in the Russian media in relation to Azerbaijan, and in the Azerbaijani media in relation to Russia, they have no influence on the policy of Azerbaijan and Russia.”
On mediators in negotiations with Armenia
“Today there are three international actors that provide their assistance – the United States, Russia and the European Union.
And in three areas, Azerbaijan is acting in good faith and with a focus on results. But so far there are no results, because Armenia needs to take one of the last steps.
They have already taken several steps after the war, I would say that these steps were not voluntary. Over the past two and a half years, there have been several episodes that clearly showed Armenia that if our territorial integrity is not recognized, we will not recognize their territorial integrity either. And what this will mean for them is more or less clear.
They have already publicly acknowledged that Karabakh is Azerbaijan. Now they need to put their signature under the document. This is one of the last steps, but more needs to be done,” Ilham Aliyev stressed.
Peace treaty could be signed before the end of the year
In the course of answering one of the many questions, Aliyev said that a trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Russian Federation would be held in Moscow in the coming days.
According to him, a peace treaty between the two countries can be signed before the end of 2023:
“If Armenia agrees to a clause where it completely refrains from any territorial claims against Azerbaijan, I think it will be really possible to sign a peace treaty by the end of this year.
If not, well, I have said many times that if they do not want to have a peace treaty with us, we cannot force them. We could not force them to comply with international law for 28 years. We have achieved this only by force. But in this case there will be no peace. In general, this is not the best scenario for the region.”