Former Azerbaijani FM: ‘new principles for settlement of Karabakh conflict must be developed’
The calls of the Armenian authorities to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, the possible deployment of peacekeeping forces in the region and the negotiation principles on the conditions prevailing at the front – these are among the topics discussed by former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov in an interview with JAMnews.
Tofig Zulfugarov served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan from March 5, 1998 to October 26, 1999, as well as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan to Latvia (2005-2010) and Estonia (2007-2015).
According to Zulfugarov, the calls of the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan to other countries to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh are “nothing more than populism aimed at the internal public.”
“The entire civilized world recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of it. The recognition of the independence of a part of the country by another state is a violation of international norms. Armenia is well aware of this, therefore Armenia itself has not risked recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh, as this would only complicate its situation in the negotiation process,” the ex-minister said.
As for Azerbaijan’s actions in the event of Armenia recognizing the independence of Karabakh, the former Azerbaijani FM is sure that this will not change anything at all: “Azerbaijan considered and considers Nagorno-Karabakh its territory, and right now the Azerbaijani army is liberating these lands from the invaders. The recognition or non-recognition by someone of these territories as independent will not change anything in this case. I repeat, this thesis is primarily designed for domestic consumption in Armenia, and there is no need to take it seriously”.
Speaking about the prospects for the deployment of peacekeeping forces in the region, Tofig Zulfugarov noted that the UN charter envisages five ways of deploying peacekeeping forces in the conflict zones. “In four of them, the consent of the country whose territory is involved is a prerequisite for the deployment of peacekeeping forces, whose tasks include the suspension of direct hostilities and the observation of the ceasefire. Only in one case can a peacekeeping force be introduced without the prior consent of either side. For this, the UN Security Council must adopt a resolution to force the parties to peace,” he said.
“Currently, military operations are being conducted on the territory of Azerbaijan, and the main condition for the deployment of peacekeeping forces in the conflict zone is the consent of the leadership of Azerbaijan. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev stated this in his recent speeches. However, today this is almost impossible, there are ongoing battles, and we cannot talk about any truce yet,” Zulfugarov added.
The former FM of Azerbaijan is certain that the principles of the conflict settlement should be revised.
“The Madrid Principle and other agreements that were once on the negotiating table have lost their sense. They need to be altered based on the current situation in the conflict zone,” Zulfugarov says.
“All principles of negotiations have their own statute of limitations. Currently, there is no point in dividing the occupied territories of Azerbaijan into conditional “five regions”, “other two regions”, etc. For me, there is only the concept of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, which must be returned, and which are considered by the entire international community to be the territory of Azerbaijan,” JAMnews interlocutor emphasized.
Tofig Zulfugarov added: “Today, according to the 51st article of the UN Charter, Azerbaijan is liberating its territories that were occupied. President Ilham Aliyev stated that there is no former status quo, there is no previous line of contact. In other words, if negotiations begin, new principles of settlement should be developed – a new approach is needed based on the real situation.”
Article 51 of the UN Charter:
“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”