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Center for National and International Studies
“...You have destroyed 33 years of life… But it is simple: when our mothers do not cry, yours will not cry either…”
The FB community focuses on high level international meetings – NATO Summit, G7, Putin—Biden Summit, Biden—Erdogan meeting, is disappointed at the absence of mentioning Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity in the NATO communique, widely covers and comments on the visit of Erdogan to Azerbaijan, praising their issued joint statement, and especially the security and defence agreement; appeals to the two presidents to fight the Russian 5th column in the country; decries the official celebration of the so-called Salvation Day, when the democratic leader Elchibey was ousted in 1993, discredits corruption within schools and follows events in Belarus.
Post-war situation. The FB community discusses the results of the NATO Summit, Putin—Biden Summit, the meeting of Biden and Erdogan and G7 meeting in Cornwall. The leader of Popular Front Party, Ali Karimli, praises the results of the Biden — Erdogan meeting, which he believes, along with the abovementioned events, will lead to the revival of the democratic community of the world, and to the activation of the role of the US and Turkey in the South Caucasus and weakening of the role of Russia. This will create, he argues, the opening of Azerbaijan to the West and opportunities for a true provision of its sovereignty. The local media reports a protest vigil in front of the Russian embassy in Switzerland by a group of Azerbaijanis. Some sceptical voices, such as the journalist Rahim Hajiyev, argue that the negotiations with Putin’s Russia are meaningless.
The activists, journalists and bloggers discuss the visit of Turkey’s President Erdogan to Shusha and important agreements signed during this visit, first of all on defence cooperation, which obliges the countries to cooperate if there is a threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state and any violation of the internationally recognised borders. Natig Jafarli of REAL comments, that “we want peace in the region, but for sustainable peace the country needs a professional and strong army”. He is shocked by the highly emotional publications in the Armenian media, one of the titles of which states: “Erdogan and Aliyev visited the “occupied Armenian city Shusha”. The pro-government sources praise the visit, calling it “the day when the whole Turkic world elevated to the height of Shusha”, quote epos Dede Gorgut, that this is “a holiday of the Oguz world”. The ruling party functionary Siyavush Novruzov spoke about the importance of the visit in the Day of Revival (although the activists consider this was to watch the Turkey-Wales game in Baku within European Football Championship) and stressed the significance of the bilateral Shusha statement, comparing it, after Ilham Aliyev, to the Kars agreement a century ago. The activists, while critical of Erdogan domestic policies, recognise the importance of and praise Erdogan’s visit and signed agreements. The media reports that besides cooperation in all areas, the issue of the Zangezur corridor is also reflected in the statement. Arif Hajili of Musavat argues that this meeting is the manifestation of a new stage of Azerbaijani-Turkish relations, based on strong political will. Ali Karimli calls the opening of the consulate of Turkey in Shusha “an important political gesture”. Osmangizi TV ran a special programme dedicated to Erdogan’s visit, with participation of the leaders and commentators of the major opposition parties. The journalist Rauf Mirgadirov, however, warns that the statement is not a legal document and does not define any obligations, and that people should not forget that South Caucasus is the hostage of Russia. People share the quotation from Pashinian that the transferred maps of landmines to Azerbaijan (95,000 in one region), “is only a small part of the mined lands”. The FB users also discuss whether Russians will be angry due to the “secret diplomacy” as a result of which the exchange between the conflicting parties took place. Meydan TV quotes the speech of the ex-president of Armenia, Levon Ter-Petrosian, on Armenian public TV: “Now things are more complicated: before we had a chance for mutual compromise, but now we do not. We lost the chance, we have nothing, Armenia does not have a decisive role”. He warns that Kocharian is leading towards a new war, while the world recognises Karabagh as part of Azerbaijan. The FB community also reflects upon the Biden—Putin Summit in Geneva. Gubad Ibadoglu argues that its agenda, along with those of the high-level meetings of the G7 and NATO, is defined by the West’s concern with Russia-Chinese cooperation and expanding of their military capabilities, and the search for a united response. The ex-MP, leader of the United Azerbaijan’s National Unity Party, Hajibala Azimov, initiated an appeal, signed by the number of public figures and leaders, addressed to the presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan, where he lists the threats to the security of Azerbaijan, the main one of which being Russia, which had formed a 5th column in the country and prevents the adoption of the National Independence Day of 28th October as an official holiday. He stresses the main national threat is the work of the intelligence of Russia and Armenia. He refers to the US CIA data of 80,000 agents of Russian intelligence in Azerbaijan. He asserts Russia’s role in the appointment of many bureaucrats of strategic spheres in the country, such as the head of SOCAR, Ministry of Emergency, Ramiz Mehdiyev or Ramil Usubov, etc. He also lists the representatives of the ‘5th column’ in Parliament, and the Foreign and Defence Ministries. He argues that Russia, in continuation of its imperial policy, openly gives support to the terrorist and separatist groups and under the disguise of the peacekeeping forces sent its troops to Azerbaijan to support separatists. These actions also cover illegal economic activities, such as the 176 quarries in Baku and 56 in the Absheron region, which not only lead to the depletion of valuable sandy beaches of the Absheron, but are done at the expense of misappropriation of private land plots belonging to local people. In conclusion, the statement appeals to the presidents to join efforts for elimination of the network of Russian agents in the country. A few measures are listed as necessary to address the issue: 1) Adoption of the Law on Lustration 2) Adoption of a state programme on national security and definition of precise functions and roles of the state agencies responsible 3) Creation of a Commission of Inquiry consisting of representatives of major state structures in the area of national security to identify 5th column agents and attract them to responsibility 4) Provision for absence of corruption in the appointment of the state cadres 5) A signed agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan to promote sustainable national security.
People comment on the video reflecting return of the captured in the war to Armenia. The opposition activist Yadigar Sadighly commented:” It was not easy to watch. Did you need it? Live normal life yourselves and let us live it too. You have destroyed 33 years of life. Everything is simple: when our mothers do not cry, yours will not cry either”. The activist in exile, Ramis Yunus, makes the following assessment of Erdogan’s visit: Today, the President of Turkey paid a historic visit to the cultural capital of Azerbaijan, Shusha, which was among the cities freed from the 30-year Armenian occupation. This visit, alongside the signing of the ‘Shusha Declaration’ and the opening of the Turkish consulate in the coming days is a clear message to the world, first and foremost to Russia, Iran and Armenia, that in the case of violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, they will have to deal with not only the Azerbaijani army, but also with the second most powerful army in NATO, the Turkish armed forces”.
Arif Hajili of Musavat lists the historical chronology of the events of 1993, which he calls “The Cost of the Salvation Day”. He recalls that in 1993 with the mediation of the US, Russia and Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan reached an agreement, according to which by the end of June the Armenian troops withdrew from the occupied Kelbajar region. The main issue in these talks was provision of security of the Armenian population of Karabagh and the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by Armenia. Also, the expected signing in June 1993 of the oil contract by the Elchibey government with foreign oil corporations had more beneficial conditions for Azerbaijan than the later one signed in 1994. The military solution of the Karabagh issue as a result of the 44-day war led to hard and serious losses and a hegemony of Russia in the region. But none of the states — Russia, Iran and Armenia — missed this opportunity in 1993. The military coup with support of the Russian GRU changed the situation and led to creation of different Azerbaijan. As a result, 7 regions were occupied, with 30,000 thousand victims created, hundreds of thousands deprived of their homes, and people’s destinies destroyed.’ This is the cost of the Salvation Day of 15 June”- concludes the Musavat leader. The FB community views the Erdogan visit to Karabagh against the background of the still unrestored territorial integrity of the country and absence of official explanations or statements about the rest of Karabagh. The journalist in exile Ganimat Zahid argues that the Armenian party has not lost anything, only part of their mythical plans have been destroyed, but the authorities still have to answer the question: Whose city is Khankendi and other lands of Karabagh?”
The activists and journalists express their concern that this time, unlike in previous years, the issue of territorial integrity was not mentioned in the final communique of the NATO Summit. This calls into question the possibility of the establishment of full control over the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. The FB community actively shares and comments on the censored question of Erdogan during his visit: “ Is Khankendi their big city?” and the positive response of Aliyev. Ordukhan Babirov asks whether the signed agreements in Shusha are based on the brotherly relations of Aliyev and Erdogan, or friendship of two states? Natig Jafarli of REAL comments on the economic aspect of the agreements with Turkey, suggesting that the preference should be given to the joint ventures and enterprises in manufacturing. Some activists praise what they consider the most important defense agreement between the two parties, but at the same time ask why so late? Khadija Ismayil posts the photos of landmines in Fizuli region, the map of which Armenia has not given yet. The activist Azer Gasimli considers that dancing and music in Shusha during the visit of Erdogan, as a response to Pashinian’s previous dancing there, is not a constructive action. He argues that it only benefits Russia, as it undermines Pashinian’s position on the eve of elections, while increasing the chances of Kocharian, who is a friend of Putin. The local media states that the main message of Erdogan was that Turkey will be always on the side of Azerbaijan.
Human rights. The FB community continues to follow court hearings on the case of the Karabagh rally (on the night of 14-15 July 2020) participants. Fuad Gahramanli reports taking off the police monitoring device from his leg, and this marked the replacement of house hostage by 4 years 1m provisional sentence.
The FB community shares heart-breaking stories of the sick and handicapped, victims of the health system — endless bureaucratic obstacles and shortcomings which prevent them from exercising their limited rights for compensation and state support. FB is increasingly filled with posts about the problems of the families of the war heroes. One of the stories is about the family that could not pay any credit to the Chrystal Absheron living complex after the main breadwinner was killed in the war. The company says that they transfer money to the Yashat Foundation (owned by the President’s family) and that’s all they can do. Ali Karimli of the PFP compares the 600,000 unemployed given 448m manat in compensation with 4,626 employees of the oil sector receiving 727m manat of salaries. He stresses that even based on official numbers, this difference is almost double, and in no other country one can see such social injustice. The worst thing, he comments, is that the society is not reacting, while the elite is exercising more sophisticated methods of opportunism. The FB community decries the brutal mistreatment of the families of war victims and handicapped, who are demanding their rights and state support.
Reference to history. The academic historian Jamil Hasanli discloses the reasons behind Stalin’s plans to take control of the Eastern Turkestan and the role in these plans of Soviet Consul Garegin Apresov in Urumqi who sent a telegram to Moscow about the significant mineral riches of the region. In 1917-1918 he participated in the bloody suppression of resistance in Lenkoran as a member of the armed Armenian Dashnak group and after establishment of Soviet rule, worked in various official positions in Soviet Azerbaijan. At the time of sending the telegram, 1933-34 Stalin closely participated in destruction of the South Turkestan Turkic Islamic Republic. The personnel of the Red Army put on the uniform of the White Russians, fought against the Uyghurs and brought to power Chinese General Sheng Shicai, thus establishing Soviet control over Xinjiang. He writes that the General Sheng considered himself in the shadow of Stalin and at this time Xinjiang was even more dependent on Russia than on Peking. Stalin increased the number of Chinese in the province from the original 5% to 20%, playing an important role in the Chinafication of the Turkic region. Similarly, the repressions in Xinjiang took place in parallel to the Soviet repressions in the 1930s. General Sheng destroyed all the Kazakh and Uygur activists there under the excuse of Trotskyism – only in the 1930s – 16,000 Uygur were killed, with 80,000 arrested. Even Apresov himself was arrested as a Trotskyist upon the report of General Sheng to Stalin. In 1941 General Sheng sent a letter to Stalin requesting the inclusion of Xinjiang province as the 16th republic of the Soviet Union. However, the war prevented realisation of these plans — with the occupation of Stalingrad by Germans, the General betrayed the Soviets. The US vice-president Henry Wallace who visited China in 1944 advised Chiang Kai-shek for normalisation of Soviet—China relations, to distance General Sheng from Urumqi. So this was done and the General left, accompanied by 50 trucks with mineral resources stolen over decades, including 1.5 tons of gold.
Democracy and power-society relations. The female democracy activists and opposition leader Gultakin Hajibeyli says that everything has been turned upside down in the country – as 15th May, the so-called Salvation Day — the day of the coup d’etat which put an end to civil freedoms — is celebrated as the national holiday, while 18th October – signifying the restoration of Azerbaijani independence — is not a national holiday. She comments that society’s lowest levels had become the elite, while the true elite went down to the bottom — and this is the cause of all the tragedies. Ali Karimli of the PFP comments that celebrating 15th June as a national holiday shows big disrespect to the Azerbaijani people. He argues that in no modern country is any day of a coup, especially against democratic leadership, celebrated as a national holiday. “What exactly should we celebrate? The establishment of unchangeable dynastic power? The elimination of elections, parliament, judicial system, justice, freedoms? Or the misappropriation of $100b of oil revenues?’ He concludes that the end is close, as it is not possible to divert people from the civilised global way of development. The scholar and activist Altay Geyushov comments on 15 June — the day of the overthrow of the first democratically elected president Elchibey — calling it the Day of deprivation of people’s freedom, and creation of the system shaping the people it needs. Contrary to the official “Salvation Day” he calls it “The Day of the End of Salvation”. Baktiyar Hajiyev comments that the true Salvation Day will come, when the country will be saved from those people who have been robbing the country for decades. He again appeals to the law-enforcement bodies and personally to Minister Vilayet Eyvazov about harassment by trolls and the hacking of his telephone number and social network accounts. He reports that one of the hackers, whom he managed to record, explained to him, that the moral terror inflicted on him is due to his critical publications against Ilham Aliyev, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and State Security Service. The activists in exile announced the beginning of a long-term vigil in front of the Bundestag of Germany with the demand of freedom for political prisoners.
The activists mourn the death of one of the leaders of the National Democratic movement, Ibrahim Ibrahimli: a member of the Coordination Board of the National Council, he dedicated 33 years to the struggle for democracy and independence of Azerbaijan, and was a principled, pure, and courageous symbol of this struggle.
Governance, economy, corruption. The journalists publish the prices of informal collection of fees at schools in the Nasimi district of the capital, such as the security – 2 manats, cleaners — 1 manat, the sitting at the front desk in class — 200 manat, greening the class – 10 manat, the ‘holiday’ money – (8th March, “Day of the Teacher”, Novruz, etc.) – between 20 to 50 manat. Hebib Muntazir is sure that the education minister Emin Amrullayev is aware of the ‘market’ and urges him to stop this corrupt practice in schools.
Events in Belarus. The activists and journalists continue to closely follow developments in Belarus. They share the and decry the news that Lukashenka himself beat up the editor of Nehta Roman Protasevich in prison, breaking his nose. Some comment with irony that the next performance should be expected from President Aliyev.