Center for National and International Studies
..“ I am from Khojali but I never saw my motherland …”
The war and ceasefire are the central topics on FB. Activists, journalists, and bloggers share the news from the front line, on progress with the liberation of lands, and mourn death of friends, volunteers, soldiers, and medical doctors. They share photos of children whose parents were killed during the shelling in Ganja. They discuss the results of conversations between Turkish and Russian presidents, the statement by Pashinian in parliament, the anti-Azerbaijani propaganda on Russian TV, and change of surnames from the current Russified form back to the native …
The FB community shares news from the front and analyses of the military experts. They share news about shelling and tension in the direction of Agjabedi, Goranboy, Terter and Agdam, the news from the front reminiscent of WW2. The FB users assess that 50% of Jabrayil, 80% of Fizuli, and 30% of Xojavend regions are liberated, while in 17 days 1 city, 1 settlement, 42 villages and a number of heights were liberated, together making 5.5% of the occupied territories. The people who suffered during the shelling of Ganja mention that while being interviewed by the media, they were deceived or misled by the ceasefire. The city was attacked by the prohibited rockets SCAD and people continue to be treated in the hospitals. The city was shelled directly after the achievement of the ceasefire agreement. FB community shares the story of 2-year old Nilay, whose whole family: a father, pregnant mother and grandmother were killed by shelling Ganja from Armenia proper. Nilay was saved only because he was sleeping in another room.
They mourn and honour the death of the brother of well-known young politician Tural Abbasli (chair of the Ag Party) and the son of the opposition female activist Bashkhanum Abbasli, who volunteered for the front on 27th September. The FB community also shares the story of military doctor Gasimov Shohret (father of two underage children, the youngest daughter 1 month old), who died while helping wounded soldiers. They also honour the death of the only son of the activist of the Popular Front Party, Karabagh war veteran Asif Mammadov, Abid, who had a 9-month old son. Ali Karimli of PFP reports and honours the death of Nurlan the activist’s son, the Karabagh war veteran Etibar Atakishiyev, who lost his leg in the war 27 years ago. Nurlan died on the 3d day of fighting. His father said he was ready to volunteer and go to the front again. People share an information that the newly purchased from Russia rocket complex Tor-M2KM, against the background of which Pashinian took a selfie, was destroyed by the Azerbaijani army.
Ali Karimli, the chair of PFP, argues that there is no need in a new concept or a format, the UNSCE resolutions should be implemented. He reminds that in 2001 there was a plan of a common state in Karabagh, which meant federalization of the country, and when Aliyev brought it to the discussion in the parliament it was clear that his policies in Karabagh as the policies of permanent concessions failed.
One of the activists comments that if more rational leader, who looks at the situation in a constructive way could come to power in Armenia, then the peace agreement could be signed with the highest possible autonomy to Karabaghis within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The FB users share information that Pashinian continues to make changes in the government and has appointed fired from the post of the head of National Security Agency Arman Dilanyan the chair of the Constitutional Court. The community continues to raise funds to the support of the army. The activists discuss the OSCE Minsk group peace process and its results. They comment that the basic principles were taking into account the UNSC resolutions, the Final Act of the OSCE Helsinki Agreement and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, but later the Madrid Principles, Prague process, and Kazan principles came to the fore, and there was even the Goble plan, which assumed an exchange of territories (corridors to Nakhichevan and to NK), after which Ter-Petrosian was ousted.
FB shares a photo, about which Etibar Guliyev of 28 years tweeted: ”I am from Khojali but I never saw my homeland. On the left is my uncle – the child in his hands was shot by Armenians.. I was born a month after these events, and I always thought that the child in his father’s hands was alive.” They also share the story from Sarijali village in Terter, where the bride of the killed soldier Malak Safarova committed suicide after his burial. The FB community remembers and honours General Polad Hashimov, killed in July, who got his education in Turkey, and the death from cancer of the prominent female opposition activist Gozel Bayramli.
Activists report about “war” on social networks. The petition to Mark Zuckerberg to stop the deleting of Azerbaijani postings and commentaries by Armenian FB users was signed by 4m people. FB users share the statement by Hikmet Hajiyev, advisor to the president Aliyev, that Armenia tries to attract third parties into the conflict. The media outlets report an absence of progress in the talks between Azerbaijan and Armenian party on the exchange of POWs and dead by the Red Cross, with reference to its representative in Azerbaijan, Martin Schuepp. FB reports that some shells from the Armenian side fell onto agricultural lands, so farmers cannot collect their harvest.
Gubad Ibadoglu reports on the objectives of the newly-created Global Azerbaijani Scholars Association: to unite scholars and scientists of Azerbaijani origin living and working abroad. The FB community shares the news of attacks by the Armenian community in Greece on the former president of Georgia, Saakashvili, at his meeting with his compatriots in exile. Gubad Ibadoglu critically assesses the position and interests of the external actors and argues that the statements of Pompeo and Biden are aimed at a domestic audience aligned to the upcoming elections, similarly statements made in France. Russia’s capacity is not the same as before – her position has been weakened in the region: she is under foreign pressure, her domestic social-economic situation deteriorating and evidencing backwardness in the military field.
The journalist Shahveled Chobanoglu reminds that besides the four UNSC resolutions, there were also resolutions of the European Parliament stressing the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, as adopted in 2010, n.2216 “The conditions in relation to the EU strategy in the South Caucasus”, but the government is not using this as a point of reference because it has a number of human rights and democracy conditions. There were other resolutions of 2012, 2016, and 2017 some of which openly call for withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijan. FB users discuss the statement by Pashinian that the Armenian army is backing but this is a tactical step. The main conclusions from his speech are the following: 1) there are big military losses, which were unexpected 2) the telephone conversations with many world leaders did not lead to results 3) tactics of Azerbaijanis have changed to operations by mobile groups. They quote the statement by the advisor to the NK “ president” David Babayan, who said that if Azerbaijan regains control over Karabagh– this will pose a threat to Russia and Iran’s territorial integrity and that means that the next battle for Russia will be again – the Kulikovo field. The FB community discredit the fake news – photo on the site of Russian newspaper gazeta.ru, reporting on Turkish mercenaries, while the poster on the truck is in Armenian language. The FB users actively comment and discuss the Armenian president Pashinian’s speech in the parliament, in which he denies deal Lands for Peace. He also acknowledges serious losses at the front. Some FB users post comments by an Armenian user who considers that young lives are not worth a piece of land, and that the age of the nation should be expressed in wisdom, not in exposing the nation to the threat. The writer Gunel Movlud, who grew up in an IDP camp, writes about the views of destruction on the part of the retreating Armenian army and warns against the generalizing of this to the whole nation. She gives an example of how her grandfather, in a temporary settlement for refugees in Saatli, resolved the border conflict with his other neighbour proposing to plant trees, the fruits of which were to be enjoyed by children of both families. She expresses her wish that this day will come and both parties will understand that unless they plant the trees that the children will eat the fruits from them together, for neither country there will be any peace and comfort. The seeds of hatred which are continuously planted by military actions will always lead to violence and a sense of revenge.
A large portion of FB is devoted to a telephone call between Erdogan and Putin, in which it is reported that they discussed bilateral relations, the war in Karabagh and the situation in Syria and Libya. Erdogan stressed that Azerbaijan is trying to liberate its lands which were under occupation for almost 30 years, Turkey’s efforts to contribute to the solution of the problem with its status of member of the OSCE Minsk group, as well as at the level of bilateral relations. Both stressed the importance of a humanitarian ceasefire and the need for coordination to produce the earliest step towards a peaceful solution to the problem.
COVID -19. The Operative Headquarters on the 14th October reported 369 news cases of those infected, 4 deaths, with 02 people recovered. The day before the number of infected was 277. The special quarantine regime was declared in Sabirabad and Shaki cities, and 5 villages with closing of the entrances and exits.
Relations with Turkey. People share a quotation from Turkey’s defence minister Hulusi Akar, made during his telephone conversation with his Russian colleague Shoygu, that Armenia should stop the destruction of the peaceful cities of Azerbaijan and should leave the occupied territories. Azerbaijan would not wait for the solution for another 30years, and he asserts that Turkey is by its side. Tne day will come, he concludes, when they will be held responsible for these actions. FB users share the statement by the leader of the Iyi Party faction in Turkey’s parliament, Meral Akshener, that any talks on Karabagh should include Turkey. He brought up the fact of the violation of the ceasefire and shelling of Ganja as essential factors in ensuring Turkey’s presence at the negotiation table. He called on the greater activity of the government in this direction. Ilham Aliyev stated in his interview to the Turkish TV Haber Global that there is no status quo anymore – the towns and villages of Hadrut together with the regions of Agdere, Fizuli, and Jabrayil are liberated and the front line broken through. He insisted that the Azerbaijani side does not want bloodshed and war, but the Armenian army should leave the occupied lands. He reiterated that since Turkey is a member of the Minsk group it can be a co-chairman. And that humanitarian ceasefire is not yet the peace talks, which Turkey in any case should be a part of. He confirmed that Turkey was included in high level consultations during this period anyway. Osmangizi TV devoted its programme to the call of Turkey for an urgent meeting of the 9 plus 2 format of the OSCE. The FB community also shares news that famous football player Mesut Ozil has tweeted support for Azerbaijan to his 25m followers. They share the support for Azerbaijan of the MHP chair Dovlet Bahchali, the IYI party’s Meral Akshener, and the foreign minister Movlut Chavushoglu. The economist Ibadoglu suggests that all the imported goods from Turkey should be duty-free, similar to those from CIS countries, including Russia.
Relations with Russia. The FB community shares the quote from Pavel Felgenhauer, that in the case of Turkey’s direct involvement in fighting it would mean a red banner for Russia and then the situation would change. They share the news about a telephone call between Turkey and Russia’s Defence ministers. They discuss another information by the Azadlig newspaper, that Russia refused Azerbaijan’s wish to include Turkey. They refer to the statement of the Armenian foreign minister Mnatsakanian, who confirmed that the format of three co-chairmen from France, USA and Russia would continue and to the statement of Foreign Minister Lavrov in Moscow, who said that all attempts of Azerbaijan to include Turkey in the format would be refused. The activists and experts follow the coverage of the conflict in the Russian media, stressing that the news is becoming more balanced, but the talk shows are mainly anti-Azerbaijani. They argue that Russia’s main concern is the possibility of Turkey squeezing her out of Southern Caucasus and that Armenians have built their policies on this fear. One concludes that Azerbaijanis should work better with public opinion in Russia – there are 2m Azerbaijanis living there. They also call on viewers not to believe the Russian journalists who report the Armenian victories. They call the commentator Soloviev “the herald of the Russian empire” and argue that contemporary empires are not measured by physical size but by technological achievements. The FB community shares, with reference to Reuters, that Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov considers the location of Russian peacekeeping troops on the front line in Karabagh a correct step, but that Baku and Karabagh should give their consent to that. Lavrov also said that Russia disagrees with Turkey that a military solution to the conflict is possible. At the same time Alexey Chepa, deputy chair of the Committee on International Affairs of the Russian Duma, said that Turkey should be attracted to participate in the peace talks. Ali Karimli, chair of PFP, explains in detail how Russia prepared the plan of the war and how it is implementing it. Osmangizi TV discussed the issue of peacekeeping forces, which Russia is promoting. Ramis Yunus urges stopping broadcasting any Russian TV channels in Azerbaijan during the military actions in Karabagh, as the Russia TV programs are waging anti-Azerbaijani propaganda non-stop. One of the politicians suggests changing the “Russified” surnames of Azerbaijani citizens amended during colonial times to their native ones. The lawyers suggest that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs should inform the diplomatic corpus that their citizens should not come to Azerbaijan on the appeal of the “terrorist self-proclaimed regime’s leader” to foreign citizens: Come and fight the Azerbaijani Army in the territory of Azerbaijan. FB also reports that there is a rally in Washington “Karabagh is Azerbaijani”. The journalists comment with irony that the Armenian media reports that they are fighting thousands of Syrian mercenaries, Uygur radicals from China: “Who else is left? Maybe there are also terrorists from Columbian, Mexican cartels?”
Human rights and democracy. The opposition leader Tofig Yagublu raised the issue of non-stop repressions against the opposition activists, the official media campaign against them, detentions, and the illegal possession of his and his daughter’s compensation according to the ECHR, part of which he promised to give to the Army Fund. Khadija Ismayil refutes the idea that the war will only strengthen the president and he will increase repression. She comments that the repressions are going on anyway, and it is not only the president, but the people will become strong too. She argues that one of the reasons of the unjust international position towards Azerbaijan is the president’s hostile attitude to international NGOs. She supports her idea by his statement that “they wanted to make a revolution here too”, which she argues is lies. Ilham Aliyev himself undermined the reputation of the country and caused the propaganda discourse of “dictatorship (Azerbaijan) versus democracy (Armenia)”.
Relations with Iran. People share information that the owners of a shop in Iranian Azerbaijan – Murtuz Nurmammadli and Huseyn Amani – were called on by the police, the shop itself being now closed for displaying the poster “Karabagh is Ours” on its entrance. They report that as a result of the series of rallies in Iranian Azerbaijan almost 200 people were detained. FB also reports that there are planes flying from Iran to Nagorno Karabagh. The local citizens of Fizuli testify that there are drones starting from the side of Iran and 3 minutes later there is a shelling by Armenians.
Relations with the US. The following statement by US State Secretary Mike Pompeo appeared on twitter: “We call Azerbaijan and Armenia to follow the ceasefire agreement. The shelling of the peaceful population of Ganja and Stepanakert is unacceptable.”
Relations with France. The FB community comments on the statement by the Foreign Ministry of France, that France should stay neutral – while Armenians enjoy close relations with France, Azerbaijanis are also our friends. FB users note that France publishes daily reports from Azerbaijan, covering the shelling of Ganja, etc. but they also complain that they are continuously accompanied by someone, even while interviewing the population. Khadija Ismayil ironically asks: “Dear government, do you really imagine that if you do not monitor the reporters they will not see the bombed buildings in Ganja? Why do you spoil even positive initiatives?”.
Relations with Ukraine. The FB community shares news about the planned agreement on military cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey. The journalists and activists comment that while military cooperation between the two states has been going for some time already, tomorrow’s meeting carries a political message to Russia – one of solidarity before the aggressor.
October 16, 2020