Center for National and International Studies




(Lack of) Human Rights and Liberties

Member of Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Alizamin Salyev has been on hunger strike for 77 days. Salayev’s Lawyer Nemet Karimli said that  Salayev would not stop the hunger strike unless he was released. “Zamin Bey (Alzamin) called from the detention center. His health has deteriorated. He said that he could no longer move, his weight dropped to 80 kg, and he suffers from pain and insomnia. He insists on continuing his hunger strike, and he will not accept false accusations against him.”

Anar Asadli, the chairperson of the Azerbaijan Yukselish Party, was arrested. Asadli is accused of massive fraud. Asadli’s lawyers have not commented yet.

Governance and Corruption

Azerbaijan unilaterally established a border crossing point at the beginning of the Lachin-Khankendi road on the border with Armenia. According to the information released by the State Border Service, the goal is “to prevent the transportation of manpower, ammunition, mines, and other military equipment from Armenia to the illegal Armenian armed groups in the territory of Azerbaijan.” The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and the Russian-Turkish Monitoring Center was informed about this new development, the statement said.

Chairperson of  APFP Ali Karimli shared his opinion on the decision of the State Border Service, saying that the government should have taken this step long before: “We have been insisting on setting up a checkpoint on the Lachin-Khankendi road for several months. We explained in detail how to justify the decision on behalf of the government. Finally, they have done the right thing. If they heard us every time we suggested our opinion, the situation in the country would be much better. However, as Armenia has already set up a checkpoint on its side of the border, we have followed them by opening a checkpoint on our side of the border. However, no matter what the motive might be, the good news is that at last, we can control our borders.”

Chairperson of Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare Party (ADWP) Gubad Ibadoghlu also commented on the new checkpoint on the border, adding that the Russian troops in the Karabakh region should withrow. “I believe that ensuring the border security of independent Azerbaijan based on the conditions agreed with the Russian “peacekeepers” is against the Constitution of Azerbaijan. It is not acceptable from the point of view of guaranteeing sovereignty, and it leads to the strengthening of Russia’s sphere of influence in Azerbaijan. Moreover, the long-term stay of Russian troops in Karabakh serves to hinder peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan and increases dependence on the Kremlin to regulate the process. Therefore, I consider the involvement of the Russian side to be an insidious and greedy plan of Russia, and I categorically condemn it. I suggest that the Russian-Turkish Joint Monitoring Center should be created in Aghdam, and Turkey should be represented at the border checkpoint in Lachin as soon as possible, or Russia should be excluded from this process.”

Member of the National Council of Democratic Forces (NFDC) Gultakin Hajibeyli argued that the new checkpoint would be effective in convincing the Armenians living in the region to accept Azerbaijani rule. “Azerbaijan taking control of the Lachin road is the most effective signal for Karabakh Armenians: either you will integrate into Azerbaijan and become an ordinary citizen of the country, or you will have to find another country for yourself. The days when you relied on Russia and caused war, conflict, bloodshed, and genocide in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus with the support of Russia’s oppression, support, and insidious policy have long gone.”

Member of the APFP Fuad Gahramanli was among those who applauded the opening of the border control, saying that “Azerbaijan’s opportunity to exercise control over Karabakh will create additional opportunities for exerting soft pressure on the separatist organization there and involving the Armenian community in negotiations in the direction of reintegration”. Gahramanli also added that for the long term, this new decision would benefit the Azerbaijani side to have more influence on the local population. “Whenever the Armenians transporting through Karabakh are inspected by the Azerbaijani border guards, this will have a very serious psychological effect and will make them accept that they are living in the territory of Azerbaijan. Thus, over time, they will understand that because they live in the territory of Azerbaijan, they have no possibility to go beyond the sovereignty of Azerbaijan. Under these conditions, the ability of the so-called group led by Araik to maintain the separatist mood among the Armenians in Karabakh will be significantly reduced.”

Regardless of how positive the Azerbaijani public considered it, the US Embassy in Azerbaijan, the French Foreign Ministry, and the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing their concerns about this development. The statement released by the US embassy in Azerbaijan states that “the United States is deeply concerned that Azerbaijan’s establishment of a checkpoint on the Lachin corridor undermines efforts to establish confidence in the peace process.” The US Department called for the restoration of free movement in the Lachin Corridor and “to resume peace talks and refrain from provocations and hostile actions along the border.”

The French Foreign Ministry called on Azerbaijan to “obey international norms and the decisions of the International Court of Justice. France said that this step of Azerbaijan contradicts the obligations taken under the ceasefire agreements and undermines the negotiation process.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia said in a statement that any unilateral steps that violate the main provisions of the tripartite statement of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan are unacceptable. “The Russian side is ready to provide all the necessary assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan both at the political level and “on the ground” – with the participation of the command of peacekeepers”, concluded the statement.

President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree reducing the number of settlements in the districts of the liberated territories in the Karabakh region. However,r the president’s decision met harsh criticism from the opposition as they argued that it was against the constitution to change the settlements without consulting with the local residents. According to Articles 13-2.1 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “on Territorial Structure and Administrative Territorial Division”, when administrative-territorial units are registered, merged, or changed their administrative subordination, when they are named or renamed, a meeting (meetings) is held to ensure that at least 25 percent of the citizens living in the territory of each territorial unit and who have the right to vote, and to express their opinion on the relevant issue. The law also states that, “When more than half of the citizens who participated in the meeting (meetings) vote “in favor” of registering, merging, changing the administrative subordination of the territorial unit, giving a name to the territorial unit or changing its name, the corresponding decision is adopted.”

Chairperson of the ADWP Gubad Ibadoghlu said that “The Azerbaijani authorities, which declared that they are ready to discuss infrastructure and other issues with the Armenians of Karabakh, unfortunately do not show the same approach to the internally displaced persons, and there are no discussions with the Azerbaijanis about the unification of settlements or the restoration of property rights.

Member of the NCDF Tofig Yagublu said that “Ilham Aliyev is causing more damage to the history of the nation than the Armenians by arbitrarily liquidating the villages in the territories freed from occupation. “This action is an act of vandalism against the history and toponyms of our people. The idea of merging 4-5 villages under the name of one village is not only illegal but also stupid. Every village is a motherland! Those who cancel the homeland are its enemies!”

April 25, 2023