Center for National and International Studies
“The Russian “peacekeepers”, whom Ilham Aliyev thanked at every opportunity, are preparing some provocation, not peace, in Karabakh...”
Opposition Party announces new rallies
Azerbaijan Popular Front Party plans a new rally on November 11. “We expect support for the November 11 action from everyone who considers themselves the opposition, a civil society activist, and a democratic force”, said the chairperson of the Party, Ali Karimli. According to the Party’s statement, they demand the opportunity to hold a peaceful rally.
Activist and former political prisoner Aziz Mamiyev also called on his followers on social media to join the rally. Mamiyev’s Facebook post reads: “In Baku, today a grocery shop has held a discount campaign, and the crowds flooded the place. I am very saddened by those images. If you tell the people there that there is a protest on November 11 at 16:00, they will probably run away. We have to change this society no matter what. We should inform people about rallies and call for protests. We need to teach society the ability to protest. We all had enough. Everyone should attend the next rally.”
Expressing concern over the obstacles created to the freedom of peaceful assembly of Azerbaijani citizens, after calling on the Azerbaijani authorities to respect the right of citizens to peaceful assembly, the US Embassy in Azerbaijan also commented on the new draft law on Political Parties that is currently being discussed. A statement from the embassy to Turan Information Agency says: “We are concerned that the draft law “On Political Parties” may further restrict the freedom of association of Azerbaijanis by making it difficult to register political parties. We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to consult with international experts, including the OSCE/ODIHR, and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, and take into account their opinions on the draft law. Respect for the freedom of association is a fundamental freedom established in the Constitution of Azerbaijan and international obligations. We will continue to closely monitor this matter.”
The head of the National Center for Strategic Thinking, former head of government Isa Gambar, spoke about the impact of recent events in Iran on the region and the current situation of Iranian Azerbaijanis in an interview with Voice of America. Parts of Gambar’s interview: “Azerbaijani society is carefully following the events in Iran. How the events will end is, without a doubt going to have an impact on the region and Azerbaijan. It can have positive effects, and it can also have problematic aspects. Although the Azerbaijani government itself is an authoritarian government, it still has to reckon with public opinion to some extent. The Azerbaijani authorities also understand that the Azerbaijani society and the people of Azerbaijan are worried about the events taking place in Iran. Everyone knows that millions of our Azerbaijani Turks live in Iran. Of course, we are interested and worried about their safety and rights. The first reason for the increase in the reaction of the authorities is related to these issues. At the same time, the Iranian regime actually views Azerbaijan as an enemy, takes positions against the interests of Azerbaijan in all fields, and recently various official and unofficial representatives of Iran have made harsh statements about Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani authorities, on the other hand, the most dangerous is the presence of Iranian military forces on the border with Azerbaijan. of course, conducting military trainings and threatening Azerbaijan in practice has its influence on Azerbaijani government’s decisions and positions.”
Next Peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan
The next meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia is expected to be held in Washington, DC. This time, US Secretary of State Blinken will mediate the meeting. Member of APFP Fuad Gahramanli said that such high-level mediation shows the importance that the United States attaches to the solution of issues in the region. Assessing the possible outcome of the meeting, Gahramanli wrote on Facebook: “This means that the intended meeting is not just to maintain diplomatic contacts, but to achieve a real solution. The participation of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in this event shows that the intentions set by Putin at the Sochi meeting have not been fulfilled and that the negotiations with real content are proceeding according to Washington’s plan. This demonstrates that Russia not only could not take the initiative unilaterally but also could not even maintain the parallel negotiation process.”
In November, the next meeting of the heads of state of Azerbaijan and Armenia will take place in Brussels, with the mediation of Charles Michel, the president of the EU Council. It is expected that the final version of the peace project will be discussed at this meeting.
According to Gahramanli, Kremlin will try to sabotage the peace talk between the countries by increasing the tensions on the border. “This will mean that the negotiations mediated by the West are approaching a real result, and in that case, it will make no sense for Putin to invite Aliyev and Pashinyan and sit around his round table from now on. What Moscow can do is to find a way and create a new conflict on the border of Azerbaijan and Armenia and create tension with the help of the separatist group in Karabakh. However, considering this threat, the location of the EU observation mission on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan takes away this opportunity from Russia. As for Karabakh, if there is any military tension there, the responsibility for this will remain on Russia, which has to fulfill the peacekeeping mission. Then, this situation will reveal the result that Russia cannot ensure peace in this area as well. This would give the West an opportunity to propose replacing Russian “peacekeepers” with an UN-mandated peace mission. Therefore, Moscow will probably not take such a step to avoid this. Thus, in the current situation, Putin has no choice but to watch the negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia with the mediation of the West.”
Anti-Russian statements on Azerbaijani state TV
Meanwhile, for the first time on the Azerbaijani state TV channel, AZTV anti-Russian statements were made. The unofficial social media channel of the Ministry of Defense spread the news that the Russians are transporting weapons to Karabakh from the Lachin corridor. Then the news spread that Azerbaijan did not allow the plane from Russia to Armenia to fly through its territory because it was carrying weapons. In light of this news, AZTV broadcasted a TV program that clearly sent the message that “not a single Russian soldier would remain in Karabakh.”
Several Azerbaijani authorities made statements that the Russian “peacekeepers” stationed in Karabakh were carrying weapons to Karabakh through the Lachin corridor. Additional weapons are transported to Karabakh from the Russian military base in Armenia (Gumru). Commenting on the activities of the Russian forces in the region, chairperson of APFP Ali Karimli said that Karabakh is under the control of Russia, unlike the claims of the Azerbaijani government. Karimli wrote: “The Russian “peacekeepers”, whom Ilham Aliyev thanked at every opportunity, are preparing some provocation, not peace, in Karabakh. Unfortunately, Karabakh is still not controlled by Baku. The separatists in Karabakh are controlled by Moscow, and the armed forces of Russia, Armenia, and the separatist regime operate in Karabakh. Ilham Aliyev’s statement that “there is no Karabakh conflict anymore” does not change this bitter reality. Putin, whom Ilham Aliyev wants to present to us as an “ally” is the person who is the biggest obstacle to ensuring Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh.”
Journalist Seymur Hezi reacted on state television to anti-Russia comments saying that an official statement should be made. Hezi wrote: “Is Aztv the Ministry of Foreign Affairs? The state has a position, and let those who represent the state come out and show their positions. AZTV is a state television, and through AZTV, they give a semi-official dress to what they would say to Russia or Iran, and by doing so, they want to tell the public that there is no official silence about what is happening. If they find a common language with these states tomorrow, they will immediately say that this was the position of the media and the government thinks differently. At least those who brought the Russian army to Azerbaijan should act now and stop the Kremlin’s dangerous policy. When Ilham Aliyev, who “knows what to do when to do”, took Karabakh from Armenia and gave it to Russia (Putin), did he not know that this could happen? If he knew, it’s bad, and if he didn’t, it’s worse.”
November 8, 2022