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Center for National and International Studies
The dominating topics of these days have been the violation of ceasefire on the state border and the following mass protests in Baku, functioning of state institutions, continued persecution of activists. They also comment on the last speech of the president Aliyev, firing of the Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and appointment of a new one, former minister of education.
FB community shares and mourns military and civilians who died in the recent resumption of fighting on the Azerbaijani – Armenia border: col.Mirzayev Ilgar, gen. Hashimov Polad, major Novruzov Anar, major Ahmadov Namig, Ilgar Zeynalli, Babayev Yashar, Mustafazade Elchin. On the 13th of July Armenian army was attacking the villages of Tovuz region from three sides as reported by local witnesses. People share information about decency and integrity of the killed general Polad Hashimov, who always helped the soldiers at his own expanse, and gave awarded to him apartment to the family of the war victim.Some activists expressed the idea that this killing is already a reason and open invitation for a war, asking the question what’s happening on the border? They also report the destruction of the house of a civilian Aziz Azizov and his death in Tovuz village on the 14th July as a result of the shelling by the Armenian army. The human rights defender urges to open the criminal case All the political and civil leaders expressed their condolences to the families of killed and posted their comments devoted to the memory of the victims of the attack. While there is a solidarity with the army and killed, some warned against political manipulation by the issue. One activist comments, that love to the homeland is not a patriotic toasting but it is about asking the question “ Why?” and that he learnt it from the enlighteners of the Azerbaijani history. One of the civil leaders writes that the reason for such a long occupation is deeper than it may seem. The activists demand to start hearings in the parliament devoted to the issue of aggression. The other leader argues that there are political economic, diplomatic, social and psychological aspects to the war. Political- there is no ideological government, only populists, economic— primitive and tied to one pipeline economic system, based on corruption, diplomatic- with the foreign ministry being corrupt and with such international image it is hard to win the war, social issue- the initial number of unemployed ( 90700) was extended to 600, 000 and the rejection was sent to the hundreds of thousands of the unemployed, collapsed business for the 4th month, psychological – all the problems in the condition of lockdown forms enormous pressure on people’s psyche. Only with strong institutions it is possible to liberate the occupied territories.
In the evening of the 14th , while fighting was continuing, crowds of people started to gather in common rally which was expressing support to Azerbaijan army. It went first to the Freedom Square and then to the building of the National Parliament. The internal troops were brought to the location, but they did not interfere. In turn the crowd was also peaceful. The activists discuss the later “breaking in “of the crowds into the building of the parliament and argue, that nobody broke the door of the parliament, some asserting that the doors were simply opened for them. However, the independent journalist faced the obstacles by the police, who took the mobile phone of journalist of Meydan TV Xayala Agayeva. Some report, that the stones were thrown and there were definitely provocateurs who were calling the crowd to break in the parliament building, but none of them were known to the wider community of activists and journalists. However, one of the journalists recognized employee of the Ministry of National Security in civil clothes, who was in the parliament building among the crowd. One FB user comments that the history repeats- again people call for Karabagh, while police is severely beats them- the only thing which changed is militia into a police. The activists in exile in the US has had coordinating meeting on assessment and reaction to the events on the state border, agreeing to send both individual letters to the US Senators and arrange a group vigil in front of the Armenia’s embassy in Washington DC and consulate in NY with the slogan “ End the Armenian Aggression” , “ Armenia — out of the occupied territories”. Some politicians warn against the attempt of the government to stir the provocations among the rally of people’s natural resistance to the occupation. They argue that the main goal of the government not to let people get involved in politics, so the rally was quite unexpected and surprising. They say, that the main reason of masses coming out was to give support to their generals and army being killed by the enemy. But there was no a leader who came out to lead them. Instead there were provocateurs who made them “ break in” the parliament building. They also stress than later brutal dispersal by the police of the tens of thousands of young people who went out to give support to the army was a big mistake of the government, which could prove by this rally to Putin the passion of people in regards Karabagh, or use it as an excuse to national unification, as the leader of PFP called for. Dragging young people to the provocation and then brutally dispersing the rally was the big damage to the national unity. They argue, that the authorities should not be afraid of the rally, as this is not a protest rally, but rather the expression of national solidarity before the enemy, and if they really wanted to resolve the Karabagh issue, they should not attack people at the rally. People share the witness records of the provocateurs turning the car upside down. Some politicians are indignant that the general Polad Hashimov will be buried on the Alley of Honor II rather than I. They comment that the latter is the pace of burial of 15-20 generals who have no relations to Azerbaijan and its history. One activist comment, that Armenia by killing a general sent one clear message, the people who went out to rally demanded liberation of Karabagh and the worthy response to this message, so what would be the reaction of the Head Commander? ( Ilham Aliyev-L.A). Some of the activists and journalists are regretting that none of the opposition leaders came out to the protesters, but some refer to the events in Ismayilli, when Ilgar Mammadov and Tofig Yagublu were arrested and some even consider that the calls for opposition leaders to come out was a provocation. But as result of the absence of the leader, the rally participants were dragged into the parliament and then dispersed by the police. Thus the burial of the general Hashimov was attended more by the officials, and the number of people was limited. Journalists quote the ITV and other TV channels which already started to put the responsibility for the rally on opposition. They call it a dangerous game of the government who on the one hand calls for the dialogue and unification with opposition, on the other hand is arranging provocation and blame for it the opposition. Some politicians stress that the military actions were going on for three days going, but everything was quite in Karabagh. One argues that this is because the Armenia — Karabagh regime tries to show its neutrality to the interstate war and asserts that “ granting the status of the third party to Karabagh is unacceptable” . One journalist stresses that nobody tried to resort to violence and both the rally participants and the police were peaceful, and that in general Azerbaijani are peaceful people, if not the occupation, they would never want the war. They recall the similar events in 2003- when a group of provocateurs damaged the bus ( nobody knew them) and it was followed by the mass arrests, tortures of opposition activists. Some argue, that the energy of the crowd in the country where there is no democracy and political process can be led in any direction. They also urge the citizens in order to finish the occupation to demand greater accountability of the authorities regarding preparedness of the country to the war, military budget and other issues and for that the civil society should be strong. The opposition leader comments that the government again applied its traditional method of communicating to its people, when they went out to express solidarity with their army – by throwing police with water cannons, robber bullets, batons and tear gas- and that there was nobody found among them to come and to talk to the participants of the rally. The regime bears direct responsibility for the violent dispersal of the rally demanding liberation of the occupied territories and Karabagh. Many ask question – how come that for years we heard that our military budget is few times bigger than that of Armenia, but when there are skirmishes like this we bear such heavy losses- why the budget is so ineffective? In fact, argues the other activist and an economic expert, it exceeds the budget of the enemy 5 times.
Some activists and experts discuss and share the issues related to state building. Gubad Ibadoglu presents his package of proposals on the fight with corruption, which includes wide range of measures covering legal, institutional, transparency, public participation and accountability, international cooperation areas.
The PFP reports totally unjustified arrest of their member Arif Pashayev for 30 days. It is reported about the arrest of the former Defence Minister Rahim Gaziyev by the State Security Service and opening of the criminal case based on the article 281 ( the open appeals against the state) and 282 ( provocations) of the Criminal Code.
The activists and journalists strongly criticize the speech of the president Aliyev on the 14th of July. One activist argues that while there is such a critical situation in the front line, he was quietly speaking about the water supply system. He commented on the president’s criticism of the foreign minister Mammadyarov, that the latter was there for 16 years and why he did not notice it earlier? Many ridicule the President’s words that he could not find Mammadyarov during the hostilities as “he was working from home”. They also noticed that he never mentioned Russia, who is behind Armenia and put all the blame for provocations on the opposition.The Popular Front Party posted a statement devoted to the 31st anniversary of its creation and to the “ third hate speech” of Ilham Aliyev on the 15th July. They stress that the speech was pointing to the opposition as an enemy and means a new wave of repressions, so the international organizations and community should react to it. They assert that in spite of the giving a command for another wave of repressions against Popular Front by president Aliyev, he ca be assured that they will never stop their struggle for democracy. They also stress that the government forces tried to make a provocations during the rally, as Ilham Aliyev got scared of the masses of people who went out to protest.
Activists and politicians comment on the president’s statement in his speech, that not many people are interested in voluntary going to the war. One of the comments that the modern war is a hybrid war and is a war of technology and is less dependent on people, so there is no need in volunteers. This is a war of drones, satellites etc. One should move away from the “ Hurraay, ahead for Stalin” thinking. But if someone really wants the volunteers for a war- should stop stealing from the budget, must eliminate the corruption, come to vote and protect the votes- this will be the best support to the Army and the Homeland. He also expresses his view on the appointment of the new minister of the foreign affairs who is not a professional diplomat. He argues that usually ministers are political appointees, so the simply need to share the political course, values, principles, ideology and the vision of the ruling party. The problem of our country is that the political course of the ruling party YAP is not known, it does not have values ( or is mercantile), principles are not seen ( or they are flattering and escape from responsibility) , there has never been an ideology (an idolatry is not an ideology), there has never been a vision, and professionalism is replaced by the cronyism and nepotism.