"The behind-the-scenes negotiations didn't stop." Zardusht Alizade on the situation in Karabakh
Zardusht Alizade on the situation in Karabakh
For over a month Azerbaijani activists have been staging a protest near Shusha. The Armenian side says it is a blockade of the unrecognized regime in the part of Karabakh where the Armenian population lives. All contacts between Baku and Yerevan have been stopped, and the two countries regularly exchange statements in which they accuse each other of disrupting the negotiation process. But Azeri political scientist Zardusht Alizade says backstage negotiations have not stopped.
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On the situation in Armenia
According to Alizade, at present “Armenian society is trying to free itself from the myths that have been instilled in it for many years.”
“This myth is that the whole world owes Armenians, and Armenians are obliged to restore their ‘historical lands’ to recreate ‘Greater Armenia’, etc. West, east, south and north should be grateful to them for being ‘a symbol of culture and truth’ in the world. These notions have been instilled in Armenian society for many years.
Zardusht Alizade: "Neither Armenian nor Azerbaijani societies make decisions"
The protest by self-proclaimed Azerbaijani activists continues in the Lachin corridor. So far, none of the protesters’ demands have been met. The situation in the corridor indicates difficulties in negotiations between Baku and Moscow, Azerbaijani political scientist Zardusht Alizade believes. “Neither Armenian nor Azerbaijani societies make decisions,” he avers.
But things turned out differently. Armenia fell into a blockade, could not annex Karabakh, the country fell into a deep economic and moral recession, the population began to decrease and leave Armenia, and the state became completely dependent on Russia,” Alizade maintains.
He stated that the process has deepened with the 2020 44-day war:
“The second Karabakh war ended with a heavy defeat for Armenia. True, at the last moment Russia ensured that the Armenian separatists remained in Karabakh. We were forced to agree to the deployment of Russian peacekeepers there.
The Armenians have been expelled from the seven regions around Karabakh, in 25-30% of the former NKAR, which was under the control of the separatists, the sovereignty of Azerbaijan has been restored. Now Armenian society is naturally in a deep crisis.”
Alizade noted that Nikol Pashinyan “step by step and confidently separates Armenia from Russia”:
“The West supports Armenia on this issue. The pro-Russian forces in Armenia wanted to do something, but in the parliamentary elections they received only 25% of the vote, the people did not come out to their rallies. They have no way to come to power through mass protests. So Russia cannot completely humble Armenia.
Pashinyan openly says that they can leave the CSTO, the EAEU, the country’s future is connected with the West and it is necessary to find a common language with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan talks about this, but in Khankendi (Stepanakert) the situation is a little different.”
What is happening in Karabakh?
“Russian peacekeepers are in Khankendi. In addition to this, the Armenian community there is kept under control by local agents close to Russian intelligence. Society in this part of Karabakh is in deep crisis. I follow them on social networks, they write that we are a society without a future, we don’t know what to do, we have become toys in the hands of great forces, etc.
The leaders of the Armenian community of Karabakh understand the essence of this whole situation and are trying to find a common language with Azerbaijan. If you look closely, the separatists in Khankendi do not differ seriously from our corrupt officials. They also receive bribes, engage in corruption, and so on. In principle, they agree to negotiate with the Azerbaijani side in order to remain an official there and continue to “rob” the Armenians,” Alizvde believes.
According to him, Vitaly Balasanyan and others in relations with Baku “thought something like this, that they will appoint us leaders in this part of Karabakh, allocate finances from the budget, and we will digest all these funds”:
“But Russian intelligence noticed all this. The Russians put pressure on them, frightened ordinary Armenians. But Vitaly Balasanyan is not a shy one. He said that yes, I am talking with Azerbaijanis, I am doing well, I want to save the population. And when the Russians were already convinced that the Karabakh Armenians would come to an agreement with Baku, Vardanyan’s card was thrown on the table.
Now there is a deep crisis in Khankendi. Some Western forces say that the road should be open, the Karabakh Armenians are starving, and so on. Although the rich there eat khash for breakfast and sup on shish kebab.
The situation is uncertain. Vardanyan relies on the support of a certain part of the population, Russian peacekeepers and the patience of Baku. Azerbaijan rightly does not want to resolve the issue with the help of force, this is not in our favor now.”
What to expect in the future?
Alizade believes that now Azerbaijan has the advantage:
“It is impossible to resolve any issue without Azerbaijan’s participation. But we also have weak points. First of all, in terms of human rights.”
According to Alizade, the position of the leaders of the unrecognized regime is strong among the Armenian population of Karabakh:
“It is worth noting that Azerbaijan is ready to accept them, although not all, but a certain part. You can discuss with them the issue of working in important positions in Khankendi. This is a positive thing.
But it is also clear that the population in an unenviable situation does not look at the past of these leaders, does not remember that it was they who dragged the people into this hell, conflict, and made them suffer 30 years ago.
On the contrary, they will think that these people know how to negotiate with Baku, let the Azerbaijani authorities come here, and in the worst case, we will successfully sell our houses and move to Yerevan. Everyone thinks about himself, about his children.
Of course, if our departments start functioning there, and a couple of local Armenians can officially sell their houses and buy housing in Armenia, believe me, queues will line up in front of these departments.”
Regarding the fate of Ruben Vardanyan, the political scientist is sure that he has “no prospects”:
“Experienced people among the Armenians of Karabakh understand that Vardanyan has no future. If Azerbaijan does not accept him, then he is practically nobody there. The people know this very well.”
“Backstage negotiations did not stop”
In an interview with Azpolitika, Zardusht Alizade expressed confidence that the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia did not stop:
“The process is underway. Through Moscow, the Brussels line, etc. America is also trying to take the lead in the negotiation process.
Yes, negotiations open to the public have been suspended, but behind the scenes the process continues. I do not even rule out direct channels for contacts between the parties.
It is good that negotiations are underway, the parties are getting to know each other’s positions and are trying to reach common ground. In fact, this is a very positive thing.”