Opinion from Baku: EU wants to establish its presence in the region
EU is trying to establish its presence in South Caucasus
In the environment created in the region after the second Karabakh war, the European Union is trying not to stand aside and take active part in the ongoing processes, says former Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Tofig Zulfugarov. He shared his thoughts on the meeting between Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan in Brussels.
Will Europe provide financial assistance?
“The meeting in Brussels clearly showed the desire of various Western structures to take part in post-conflict processes. The European Union has great financial potential and, as it became known at the meeting, Azerbaijan and Armenia want the European Union to be more active in terms of assistance in the post-conflict period, and, if possible, the assistance should be tangible. Naturally, the European Union is not a negotiation format, only some issues are discussed there due to the nature of this organization”.
In his opinion, the expected financial assistance from the European Union is quite real:
“Throughout the year we have been waiting for such statements, messages from the European Union, other European organizations, and from the West in general. But until that moment we did not see its active position. If this position concerns peace, establishing peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia, then there should be some projects for this. From this point of view, the meeting actually became a call [for the West] to come, take part in the process.
The issues that were on the agenda of the OSCE Minsk Group have already lost their relevance. Taking into account the new status quo, the assistance provided by the European Union, in particular its efforts in the field of communications, will become more concrete”.
What can Europe do?
Zulfugarov noted that the European Union can take an active part, for example, in the demining of the liberated territories:
“Recently I was in Germany and met with one of the officials of the Foreign Ministry. It was noted at the meeting that Azerbaijan is not a party to the convention on the prohibition of the use and production of anti-personnel mines and their destruction, and for this reason they cannot, have no right to help us. But these are just formalities. Because no country in our region is a party to this convention. Secondly, it is a humanitarian step. In other words, they do not want to take part in this process. I think that the Brussels meeting will be a turning point in this matter”.
The ex-minister says that Europe can also provide financial assistance to Azerbaijan and Armenia for the construction of the Zangezur corridor, specifically, the railway:
“The construction of the railway, the restoration of roads are issues that require finances. Returning people to the liberated territories also requires significant financial resources. Schools, hospitals, roads should be built there.
If you constantly talk about your desire to participate in post-conflict processes, but do not want to provide humanitarian assistance, your statements will remain unfounded.
I think that the meeting in Brussels will bring some clarity to that question. It will be a turning point in these affairs with the participation of Azerbaijan, and probably Armenia. Because the region needs financial assistance”.
Lachin and Zangezur corridors
“Both Armenia and Azerbaijan are interested in this railway. Sometimes we get the impression that only Azerbaijan needs the Zangezur corridor. But Armenia will also export its goods to Russian markets along this corridor.
On the other hand, sometimes we hear such thoughts, they say, Armenia will establish large customs duties, for specific types of goods, large amounts will be established for transit. But there is a simple logic: if Armenia creates complications on these 40 kilometers of the road, then Azerbaijan can respond adequately when transporting Armenian goods through its territory. In other words, economic interests will play a role here, these issues are easily regulated.
The main concern of Armenia is related to the fact that the Lachin corridor is envisaged for 5 years, and the Zangezur corridor has no time limits. Now they do not want to fulfill the responsibilities that they assumed after the defeat in the war. But the Zangezur corridor was one of the conditions of that agreement, and Azerbaijan was able to achieve its reflection in the document. Now Armenia wants to deny this. The Zangezur corridor will be a permanent line of communication. And the Lachin corridor, after a certain time, will come under full control of Azerbaijan”, the former head of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said.
Will there be stability after the signing of a peace treaty?
Noting that in the future a peace treaty will be signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Tofig Zulfugarov summed up his words:
“Sometimes we get the impression that immediately after the signing of a peace treaty, all issues will be resolved. But this is not the case. Large external forces and Armenia itself will try to ensure that this conflict and the mechanisms of pressure on Azerbaijan remain in the future. This first of all concerns Karabakh. Look, the Prime Minister of Armenia declares that the topic of territorial integrity does not concern Karabakh. This shows that even if they sign a peace treaty, the main component of which is the recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity, in fact they will not comply with it. Therefore, we must be ready for such a turn.
The post-conflict period does not always lead to peace unambiguously. If we look at it from a historical perspective, we will see that the struggle will continue. What do we need from a strategic point of view? It is necessary to transfer the main conflict from the issue of Karabakh to the border, or to Zangezur. In this case, we can achieve a complete solution to the Karabakh issue. A peace treaty, a peace document can become a stage to it. But this does not mean that Armenia will abandon its claims against us”.