Center for National and International Studies
“Russia will drag the countries in its orbit into recession.”
The situation in Karabakh region: EU parliament’s new resolution, shootings, and peace negotiations
The European Parliament has adopted a resolution that “strongly condemns Azerbaijan’s continued policy of erasing and denying the Armenian cultural heritage in and around Nagorno-Karabakh region”. The Committee for International and Inter-Parliamentary Relations of the Azerbaijani parliament has condemned the EU resolution, calling it “yet another biased resolution directed against Azerbaijan”. The statement said the resolution was “entirely based on the false information fed by Armenia and the Armenian Lobby”. The European Parliament called on Azerbaijan to enable UNESCO’s access to Nagorno-Karabakh and urged Azerbaijan to ensure that ”no interventions on Armenian heritage sites occur prior to a UNESCO assessment mission”. The resolution met with backlash in Azerbaijan, with many accusing the EU of double standards and ignoring the demolition of Azerbaijani historical monuments by Armenian forces. Member of NCDF Tofig Yagublu argued that “if Azerbaijan were a democratic state governed by the rule of law, not allied with the occupying fascist Russia, integrated with the West and the progressive world, and established normal relations with the EU and other international organizations, such a resolution would not have been issued”. According to Yagublu, “the illegitimate, corrupt, repressive regime of Ilham Aliyev, which is waging war against free-thinking citizens of the country, has owned Azerbaijan a rather negative reputation in the West.”
The heating system in Khankendi and other areas in the upper Karabakh region has been out of order for five days due to a problem with the central gas pipeline. Moreover, it has been reported that there have been severe power outages for two days due to the overloading of electricity. According to Meydan TV, in some villages in the direction of Khojaly and Khojavend, some residents are said to have relocated due to regular shootings between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. The area is under the control of Russian peacekeepers.
The Defense Ministry said that the positions of the Azerbaijani army in the direction of Aghdam, Khojavend and Khojaly regions came under fire on Saturday. According to the statement of the ministry, adequate response measures were taken immediately, and the fighting positions of members of the illegal armed forces were targeted.
Fuad Gahramanli of APFP urged the authorities to take advantage of the current situation to liberate the remaining towns and cities in the region. Gahramanli wrote: “If Azerbaijan launches such a liberation operation, Turkey will be with our country. In that case, Putin would not want to go to war with Turkey, which has not joined international sanctions against Russia. Therefore, it is not time to act for the liberation of Khankendi. The fact that the ceasefire has been violated on the front line in recent days also gives full grounds for Azerbaijan to launch such a liberation operation.” Anti-war activists and social media users criticized Gahramanli’s call for another war.
In an interview with Turkish tv, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister said that Azerbaijan had submitted a new proposal to Armenia for the normalization of relations between the two countries. The proposal that consists of five points includes delimitation and demarcation of the state border and the establishment of diplomatic relations. Moreover, the proposal specifies the opening of transport and communications and the establishment of cooperation in other areas of mutual interest.
Memorandum with Iran
The Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran have signed a memorandum on establishing new communications between the East Zangazur region and Nakhchivan via Iran. The memorandum was signed by Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Shahin Mustafayev and Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Rustam Gasemi. Mustafayev said that “two highways will be built from East Zangazur to Nakhchivan via Iran, thus shortening our way to the autonomous republic.” Chairman of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu commented on the memorandum asking why the highway connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan passes through Iran instead of Armenia. Ibadoghlu wrote: “In the declaration of November 10, 2020, we agreed on the Lachin corridor so that we could go to Nakhchivan via Zangazur. After a year and a half, the Azerbaijani government doesn’t mention Khankendi and Khojaly and now is planning to establish a road to Nakhchivan through Iran, bypassing Zangazur. Did the government betray national interests again and withdraw from the declaration? I wonder what commitments the Azerbaijani government has made in return for this agreement with Iran?”
Journalist Seymur Hezi argued that the memorandum with Iran should be understood within the framework of the new geopolitical order. Hezi wrote: Putin‘s weakening position poses a risk of a new unofficial Chinese-centered coalition coordinated by Iran. The signing of a transport memorandum with Azerbaijan is the first signal of this coalition. Therefore, the road through Armenia, where Russia will no longer dominate, would be under the control of the West.”
Reactions to Sanctions against Russia
Head of ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu reacted to the sanctions against Russia, saying that the neighboring countries will eventually pay for it in the long run. According to Ibadoghlu, what’s worse is that Russia will drag the countries in its orbit into recession. He wrote: In my opinion, the current state of the Russian economy will primarily affect the Eurasian Union member states -Belarus, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. After that, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and, if the current policy continues, Azerbaijan may be the countries affected by the crisis in Russia. Therefore, the Azerbaijani government should evaluate the new trends in the region after the imposition of sanctions on Russia in different scenarios and adopt adequate programs in the short term. It is necessary to clarify the situation with banks and companies with Russian capital to prevent the manipulations of banks on currency or to default on individual Russian banks and companies in Azerbaijan. The fragile “stability” of the manat could easily be disrupted.”
While there are many speculations on possible scenarios that the sanctions could lead to, active social media users agree that after Putin, it will be the turn of the authoritarian regimes he patronizes to be sanctioned. Meanwhile, the Platform of Support for Democracy in Ukraine has decided to appeal to the head of the Baku city executive power Eldar Azizov to change the name of Moscow Avenue to Mariupol Avenue.
Azadliq newspaper reports that hundreds of Azerbaijanis have been waiting for days at the Ogonyok children’s camp in the village of Rodnikovy, near the Azerbaijan-Russia border, to return to Azerbaijan. According to the people on the border, no one has been allowed to enter Azerbaijan since February 27. The number of visitors at the camp has increased due to the cancellation of all flights between Azerbaijan and Russia. People who are left stranded on the border told Azadliq newspaper that despite their numerous calls, the authorities had not provided any help. Azerbaijan state airline company Azal canceled all flights without notice. The activists on social media demanded that the Azerbaijani government intervene immediately and facilitate the return of compatriots.
Economic and Social Situation
Meydan TV reports that last week, several residents of Guba tried to voice their demands in front of the Presidential Administration. One of the residents, Gahira Ibrahimova, a mother of five, said that although she borrowed 3,000 manats to treat her child with autism, she later had difficulty repaying the debt. Ibrahimova said that she applied to the district executive power to receive financial support for the treatment of her children and repaying the debt, but she received only 150 manats.
March 15, 2022