Center for National and International Studies
“ … Our adversary is not Armenia …”
The war remains the main topic on FB. The results of the truce agreed in Moscow are received with criticism and skepticism among the community, identifying Russia as its main benefactor. FB users decry the violation of the ceasefire and the shelling of Ganja civilian settlements from Armenia proper and call it a crime against humanity. They share photos of young soldiers who have died at the front and honor their memory, as well as express their dissatisfaction with the conditions of truce, and weak reaction of the international community to the destruction of Ganja.
War and peace. The FB community shares new developments about the war. On the eve of the meeting in Moscow, they reported ongoing heavy fighting from the direction of Fizuli and a wounded civilian population. They share information issued by the president’s assistant that Turkey was adopted as a party to the conflict, and that military operations will continue. They circulate the statement by the speaker of the Turkish Parliament Mustafa Shentop, that in the case of involvement of third parties in the conflict, Turkey will also send in its troops. The topic of the objectives of Armenia, Russia and other actors is high on the FB agenda. Activists, journalists and bloggers share the statement of Pashinian that “if Azerbaijan and Turkey are not stopped – Turkey will reach Vienna”. Gubad Ibadoglu comments that to say this, one needs to have a medieval perspective. The shelling of Ganja and Mingechavir right after that statement is a trap. It aims to provoke Azerbaijan to start shelling Armenia proper so the latter will be able to involve Russia. Russia, some think, will not become involved, as then it will lose its position and leverage in the mediation. The FB community shares a report by Meydan TV that Pashinian again stated that Karabagh was never a part of Azerbaijan and will never be. They also comment on Pashinian’s request to France and Macron to recognize Nagorno-Karabagh, arguing that Macron will not be able to do that, taking into account economic relations and share in the TOTAL oil deals. The FB community continues to discuss and approaches the peace call from the Caucasus talks platform with ambiguity. They criticize the passivity of the Ombudswoman Sabina Aliyeva in regard to numerous violations of human rights in this war by Armenia – the usage of cluster bombs, shelling civilian settlements – the casualties among civilians being 31 dead, 154 wounded, with the dead bodies of soldiers mutilated. The FB users mourn and honour the soldiers and generals who died. One comments: “When I look at his picture – ( Gen. Polad Hashimov, killed in the July attack) I have strange feelings – there are thousands of enemy troops eliminated, lands are being liberated, but we cannot bring him back …” Natig Jafarli of REAL stresses the main thesis in Pashinian’s interview with Euronews: 1) they fight with Turkey 2) Turkey brought mercenaries to the region, who fight 3) Azerbaijan will commit genocide in Karabagh with the help of Turkey. He calls this thesis absurd and says that the opposite took place. “Armenians deported 230 thousand Azerbaijanis from Armenia and killed hundreds of civilians, and this happened not 100 years ago, but just 30, and nobody was held responsible. 2) It is hopeless to ask for proof of the mercenaries from Armenia, now even if you catch them with a bomb, they will say this is a cucumber, but this should be demanded with notes from Russia and France and whoever said that they should present proof to all the media. 3) The thesis of the president that we want peace and to achieve peace the occupation should be stopped, and that we will live with our citizens of Azerbaijani and Armenian origin in Karabagh in peace, security and prosperity should be widely spread.
A famous journalist regrets that her most advanced and educated Armenian colleagues are making mocking comments on her page. She comments:” OK, dear Armenian friends, you are special, exclusive, selected by God, but if you want to live in this bubble – do it, but not on my page, and please, do not forget to take your army out of my country… Regarding Armenians who are citizens of Azerbaijan – before the Diaspora and Russia started to poison your minds, we lived perfectly well together and will do it again.” The prominent investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil was awarded by the Leipzig Foundation prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media. She donated her award to the first independent media organization to be created on the liberated lands of Azerbaijan. Sevinj Osmangizi TV reports on the diplomatic tension with Greece regarding her sending mercenaries of Armenian ethnic background.
They also discuss and interpret the truce achieved in Moscow with Putin’s mediation and consider that it was done on the request of Pashinian to Putin. The talks lasted for 11 hours and the foreign minister explained this was due to meaningless conditions made by the Armenian party. Many criticize the president for agreeing to these talks and consider that the previously stated objectives by the president were not achieved there. The parties agreed to substantative talks and an unchanged format of negotiations. They quote foreign minister Jeyhun Bayramov who said that there are no changes in the format of negotiations following the statement by the president’s assistant Hikmet Hajiyev about the role of Turkey. They question the statement by the latter that the “status quo changed at diplomatic levels”. Ali Karili of the PFP argues that Russia has only strengthened its position in the region. He reports that his bodyguard Ruslan Amirov was arrested today. Gubad Ibadoglu of the ADR considers that the main beneficiary of the truce is Russia. It showed Pashinian that without Russia they “would be destroyed by Turkey”; secondly, the war will promote further purchase of Russian weapons to replace the ones lost; thirdly by making parties agree to a ceasefire, it proved it is the master of the region, and achieved what the West – especially France – wanted. He considers that the one to lose will be Azerbaijan and even more so – Turkey, who was not included in the format and that it is Armenia who needed this truce most of all. He calls for a serious assessment of Aliyev’s policy and close monitoring of what happens in the next few days. Other FB users also approach it with mixed feelings – on the one hand, the objectives stated by the president were not achieved, but on the other – “the status quo cemented over 26 years was seriously cracked in 13 days”. One activist also makes a comparison with WW2 and the period when Germany wanted to sign a peace agreement, while the UK and France were dragging time. The activist comments that accusations made by Azerbaijan of warmongering can be applied to all who did not want to sign a peace agreement with Germany. The other activist in exile considers that signing a truce at this moment, when the army is advancing, is a true crime before the nation. He is joined by the other civil leader, who considers that the truce left a sense of defeat in diplomacy. He argues that two objectives which were declared by the officials were unmet – the Armenian party did not present the timetable of withdrawal from the territory, and Turkey was not included in the negotiation format. People share the statement by the foreign minister that there is no deadline for the truce, as the exchange of bodies and POWs will be realized by the Red Cross, and only they will know the duration. FB users comment that the Moscow talks created a sense of concern and worry within the society because of 1) the absence of Turkey at the talks 2) unspecified duration of truce 3) unchanged format of negotiations, with France remaining the co-chair. They demand that Ilham Aliyev clarifies these issues before the society. They criticise the inconsistency in his statement that people should not take seriously aggressive statements by the Armenian Pashinian, as they are for domestic consumption. Some opposition members interpret the truce as the demonstration of punishment of “Soros’s child” Pashinian by Putin and Aliyev. People also note that the other conditions were not fulfilled: Pashinian did not recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and did not ask people for any apology. Armenian sources report that the duration of the ceasefire is 72 hours starting on the 10th October. Natig Jafarli comments that Russia won 2:1 “Why I am writing about Armenia? Because the adversary is not her, and it was proved once again that the talks should be conducted with the master”. Tofig Yagublu commented on the truce: “What did you expect from the Putin’s puppet?” Participants in the discussion on Osmangizi TV stressed that it is important to make Pashinian follow international law.
The FB community has been sharing videos of the destruction of Ganja city shelled by the Armenian forces in violation of the ceasefire ruling. They also report about continuous shelling of the other regions Fizuli and Jabrayil. The economist Gubad Ibadoglu, who is originally from the recently liberated region Fizuli, posts the appeal of the Azerbaijani political parties and NGOs to the General Secretary of the US Antonio Gutierrez about the consistent aggressive policies of Armenia, resulting in creation of 1m refugees and IDPs, in violation of all signed international conventions and non-implementation of the four UNSC resolutions. The statement appeals to the head of the UN demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying force from Azerbaijan. The activists decry the silence of the international community regarding the destruction of civilian targets in Ganja. But they also explain it by way of the mistaken policies of the president who does not let foreign journalists into the country.
Minorities’ participation. The FB community mourns and honours Fagan Mammadov, who died a hero at the warfront, a representative of the Tsakhur minority from the Zagatali region, who saved with his body the lives of other soldiers.
Reference to history. The academic Jamil Hasanli reports an archival document he found in Moscow libraries. In this document the head commander Count Grigori Golitsin informed Tsar Nicolas 2 on June 19th 1900 that when Russia conquered South Caucasus the number of local Armenians did not exceed 45,000 while now there are more than 1.5m in the Caucasus (from the documents of the meeting of the special council in Russia’s state military archives, foundation 2000, record 1, vol.6593 p.14)
Events in Kirgizstan. FB users also follow events in Kirgizstan, sharing the statement by the current president Sooranbay Jeyenbekov that he is ready to resign.
Relations with the US. The FB community shares information about the draft law submitted in the senate of Michigan state by representative Mary Manoogian n. HR 0319, the “denouncement of Azerbaijan’s coordinated attack on Nagorno-Karabagh and involvement of Turkey in the conflict” and calls for the sending of protest letters. They also report on the creation of a new Karabagh platform by Azerbaijani representatives of the Diaspora in Europe.
Relations with Russia. A lawyer comments that Russia’s ambassador should be taken to the sites of the destroyed city of Ganja and tied to the rubble, so he would always see the results of Russia’s policy. FB users also call for a rally in front of the Russian embassy to protest about the anti-Azerbaijani programmes on state TV and supplying the enemy with rockets causing numerous civilian casualties. Investigative journalists warn against the Russian news outlet WarGonzo.
October 13, 2020