What can Armenians of NK expect in Azerbaijan? Azerbaijani scholar's forecast
Can NK be part of Azerbaijan?
Armenia and Azerbaijan still cannot reach an agreement on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, despite the intensification of the negotiation process, now with the participation of Western mediators. There is no progress even on the question of what format the discussion of the conflict can take place in. After the 2020 Karabakh war, Baku announced that the conflict was over and does not intend to discuss its “internal problems” with anyone.
In response to the last proposal to create an international mechanism for the Baku-Stepanakert dialogue the President of Azerbaijan said: “The Armenians of Karabakh are our citizens. Communication with them is our internal affair, which we are not going to discuss with a third country.” According to Ilham Aliyev, the Armenians of Karabakh should integrate with Azerbaijani society or look for another place of residence. This caused protest in Nagorno-Karabakh and a negative reaction from Armenian society.
Details of the current situation, the reaction to Azerbaijan’s position in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the opinion of an Azerbaijani scholar.
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Armenia changes its approach
Azerbaijan’s tough stance has led Armenia to change its approach. While just a few months ago the Armenian government linked the peace treaty under discussion with Azerbaijan with the final decision on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, now these issues are separate. It is said that “Armenia has no resources for a comprehensive solution to the Karabakh conflict”, and now it is necessary “to rely on the tools of the international community and relate to it the existential problems of the Artsakh people”.
The Secretary of the Armenian Security Council Armen Grigoryan also spoke of an international mechanism for dialogue between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan “on the issue of security and rights of Armenians in Karabakh” after the Washington meeting on September 27. He said that the issue was discussed with Azerbaijani presidential adviser Hikmet Hajiyev at a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Adviser to the US President Jack Sullivan.
The Azerbaijani negotiator’s answer immediately followed: Hikmet Hajiyev ruled out the possibility of creating international mechanisms for dialogue with NK:
“There can be no talk of that. The issue of ensuring the security and rights of the Armenians of Karabakh is an internal affair of Azerbaijan, and Baku will not discuss issues related to the sovereign rights of the country with any third party.”
Protest in Nagorno-Karabakh
The position of the Azerbaijani authorities elicited protest in Nagorno-Karabakh itself. People took to the streets with the slogan “Artsakh is not Azerbaijan.” The protesters announced that they did not see their future as part of the “totalitarian state of Azerbaijan” and “under the rule of the dictator Aliyev.”
The parliament of the unrecognized NKR, in turn, called “any attempt to consider the future of Artsakh within Azerbaijan as a red line.” The deputies declared their “commitment to the resumption of the negotiation process in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group with the participation of Stepanakert.”
The local expert community mostly agrees that it is necessary to raise the issue of Karabakh’s security with international structures.
Analyst David Karabekyan says that they should apply, in particular, to the International Criminal Court. He considers the position of Azerbaijan the result of failed diplomacy by Armenia, and the notion that “the world is ignoring us” erroneous:
“It was we who ignored international structures; it seemed to us that whoever is strong has more right, we relied on Russia. Now we have begun to realize the role of international structures. Now we see that the international conjuncture is changing. Processes are globalized. If the issue is correctly raised at the international level, our rights cannot be ignored.
Armenia should stop thinking situationally and waiting for some directives. We need to consolidate to develop a plan of action in a changing situation and depending on one or another outcome of the war in Ukraine.”
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Tatevik Hayrapetyan, Azerbaijani scholar
The failure of the current authorities
“The Armenian authorities declare the loss of resources to ensure the security and rights of the people of Artsakh a result of the 2020 war, forgetting that a year ago they established themselves in power with a program to fight for the right of NK Armenians to self-determination. I am talking about the early parliamentary elections of 2021. Moreover, their program spoke not only of the struggle for the self-determination of the Artsakh people, but also about the de-occupation of Hadrut and Shusha, which came under the control of Azerbaijan after the war.
And now, a year later, the authorities declare that there are no resources to fulfill their own program. What has changed in a year?
With the same success, the authorities can declare their helplessness in the issue of ensuring the security of Armenia. A month ago, during a large-scale attack on Armenia, Azerbaijan occupied new Armenian territory, killing hundreds of Armenian soldiers and civilians. Claiming that Armenia has no resources is the easiest way to avoid responsibility. If you cannot solve the problem, you must leave so that people with the necessary knowledge, skills, will and experience may take over.”
Peace cannot be achieved by concessions
“The peace treaty and the Artsakh issue are closely interconnected, although the Armenian authorities deny this.
Judging pragmatically, we can observe the following pattern: every time Armenia made concessions, Azerbaijan took aggressive action.
For example, after Pashinyan’s statement about lowering the bar on the status of Artsakh, the Azerbaijanis attacked the Lachin corridor and changed its route ahead of time, creating many problems for Armenia. Then the Armenian authorities refused to raise the issue of Artsakh at all, and Azerbaijan attacked Armenia in September. This means that Azerbaijan will not be satisfied with concessions, its appetite having been whetted.”
Need new initiatives
“The problem can be solved only with the use of military, foreign policy, international legal instruments.
International law is a resource for temporarily containing Azerbaijan, and with a smart approach, time can be stretched. But long-term containment of Azerbaijani aggression is possible only by military force.
Today Artsakh is under threat in the short term, and Armenia in the long term. These processes are closely related to each other, so the idea “we will surrender NK to save Armenia” is false. With each concession we become weaker and weaker, then we lose even more.
Artsakh in current conditions must independently formulate a new discourse. New initiatives are needed that will show Azerbaijan that no one in NK or Armenia is going to put up with its plans.
In international courts a decision takes time, usually years. Before that, Armenia and Artsakh must strengthen the army. We need to change the psychology of people who think that concessions will lead to peace.
The people must understand: either we are defending our country, homeland, the right to life, honor, or we are under the threat of extinction.”
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Psychology of Ramil Safarov
“Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are waiting for a new genocide, ethnic cleansing, if Aliyev’s plans are realized. Interim decisions of the International Court of Justice clearly state that the political leadership of Azerbaijan promotes racism against Armenians. This is also stated in many reports from international organizations.
The war in 2020 with all of Baku’s war crimes and its subsequent actions indicate that a generation has grown up in Azerbaijan with the psychology of Ramil Safarov.
That is why the people of Artsakh consider it impossible to be part of Azerbaijan in any status. Such a decision would be tantamount to the physical destruction of the Armenians.
Azerbaijan proved this in 1988 in Sumgayit, in 1990 in Baku, then in Maragha. If the Armenians had not taken up arms and defended themselves, Stepanakert would also have been under the threat of destruction.
Peace cannot be achieved while the propaganda machine of Azerbaijan is actively spreading racism, hatred and xenophobia against Armenians.”
We need not statements, but sanctions
“Lately everyone has been discussing Macron’s statement. It reflects the confrontation between Russia and the West. Our task is not to oppose these interests, but to try to find common ground for solving our own problems. We cannot be a zone of confrontation between Russia and the West.
In an interview with France 2, the French President blamed Azerbaijan for starting hostilities during the 2020 war in Karabakh and the September war on the Armenian border. According to Macron, Russia “has taken advantage of this conflict that has been going on for decades, it intervened in this conflict, clearly played on the side of Azerbaijan with the complicity of Turkey and returned there to weaken Armenia.” He added that France “will never abandon” the Armenian people, “our values and principles cannot be bought either by [Azerbaijani] gas or oil.”
The real steps that the West (US, EU) could take in our situation are sanctions, even if specifically against the Aliyev family, since their businesses are abroad. They could contain the President of Azerbaijan.
I don’t think France can now recognize Nagorno-Karabakh, but sanctions against Aliyev would help us a lot.”
Can NK be part of Azerbaijan?