Center for National and International Studies
“… We cannot continue our membership in CSTO kolkhoz …”
The war continues as the main topic of FB. The community shares news from the front, discuss the appeal of Nicol Pashinian to Putin about help and his response, decry the arson in the woods in Shusha, domestic problems in Armenia, the latter’s threat to hit the strategic energy pipe-line from Azerbaijan to European markets, ironically assess the meeting of CSTO in Samarkand, interpret Russia’s interests, show concern over the US official statement about possible Scandinavian peacekeepers in Nagorno Karabagh and discuss human rights.
The FB community shares the latest news from the front line, about the liberation of another 9 villages. The MDA reported that the Armenian army’s rocket system Smerch which targeted the civilian settlements in Barda has been destroyed, as well as its attack in the direction of Agdere, Hojavend and Gubadli being suppressed. They report that the army is approaching Shusha. FB users share the appeal of the commander of the 1st Karabagh “self-defence batallion” of 1990-2 Arkadi Karapetyan, the “Khojali perpetrator” to the population of Armenia for help, threatening that if there is no assistance from Yerevan to protect them from the “Turks”, the Karabagh army will come to Yerevan. He is a member of the nationalist Dashnaktsutiun party and the chair of the War Veterans of Armenia. People share information about the approaching liberation of Shusha and its historical and cultural importance for Azerbaijani people. They report intense fighting over Shusha and the explosion of the ammunition storage nearby. The 11 storage facilities were located on 4-5 hectares near Shusha city, at villages Shushikend and Mukhtar. FB shares stories of the people who for the first time got to see their homes in almost 3 decades. One of the soldiers, full of emotions, entered the school from which he graduated in the liberated village Minjivan in the Zangilan region. They also report the burning by the Armenian army of the woods in Shusha. The FB community shares information about Pashinian’s letter to Putin asking for help and the answer, which states that according to provision 2 of the bilateral agreement of 29 August 1997, Moscow will intervene only if the clashes transfer to the territory of Armenia. One of the activists mentions that Pashinian should write a letter not to Putin but to Aliyev and thus the fate of the war is decided. The resistance will lead to big losses and victims, and the responsibility will rest fully with the Armenian party. “The key to the solution of the problem is not in Moscow, Paris, or Geneva – it’s in Baku” They quote president’s Aliyev’s statement in the interview with ARD TV channel that “this is a battle between Armenia and Azerbaijan and nobody should interfere”. He also mentioned that it was obvious from expansive fortifications built on the occupied territories (discovered with the liberation of those lands) that the Armenians were not planning to leave them. He considered that their behaviour at the negotiations exposed Armenia’s cheating of the mediators and the Azerbaijani side, as they wanted to drag talks endlessly and gain time, and had succeeded in doing it for 27 years. He stressed that we are committed to the Madrid principles and that the 7 regions should be returned to Azerbaijan, as the Armenians never lived there. Besides, 40 thousand Azerbaijanis should be able to return to Upper Karabagh. FB users comment that the Armenian party is now spreading unverified information that Azerbaijan is using phosphorus bombs. Khadija Ismayil comments on the “mythical existential threat” of Armenia, arguing that control over Karabagh will not make her a superpower, and that no-one is threatening their existence. Armenia should learn to get along with her immediate neighbours, she concludes. Natig Jafarli of REAL argues that Armenia by her aggressive policies of waging meaningless war on Azerbaijan’s territory has put the country’s future development under question, proving it by statistics of outmigration from the country and the decrease of the birth rate, predicting the decline of the population in the next 10 years by half a million. FB reports the investigation by foreign journalists that Armenia’s Iskander’s base is in Stepanavan.
FB users share the news that Armenia has threatened to destroy the pipelines transporting oil and gas through Azerbaijan to Europe. One journalist comments that “somebody smart should tell them that in such a case, even Macron will not manage to save them”.
The activists, bloggers, and journalists discuss plans of reconstruction and the revival of the liberated territories. Jafarli of REAL suggests the opening of a branch of some internationally well-known Universities in Hadrut.
The Amnesty International report, for the first time proving the deployment of cluster bombs in Barda on 28th October by the Armenian army, is being widely shared and commented on. One of the young activists comments that the difference is that the West readily spreads fake news from the Armenia side without even checking it, but treats every news item from the Azerbaijani side – supported with facts – with suspicion. “Despite confirmations of the cluster bombs usage by Armenia in its attack on citizens of Barda, they still do not support us”. He is surprised at how they do not condemn these confirmed military crimes. “We always decry terrorist acts in the West: is it difficult for them to do the same when similar things hit us?” He concludes that it is obvious that the civilized world does not only consist of the West. And that Azerbaijan itself should become so democratic and civilized that others would expect it to bring justice. The lack of cooperation with Human rights organizations by the Azerbaijani government is stressed by another activist, who comments that the Armenian party, who is an occupant and violates international law and human rights – but cooperates closely with international organizations – manages to get all these reports in its favour, while Azerbaijan, having the international law on its side, does not. The other one posts photos of a battalion of armed Armenian women in military uniform, commenting that its caption is “Women of Armenia for Peace” and that he is not joking.
FB reports, with reference to the president’s assistant Hikmet Hajiyev’s tweet, that fake Twitter and Instagram profiles were opened in his name. Meydan TV reports that Armenia’s prime minister agreed to the Russian peacekeeping forces around Upper Karabagh in case Russia intervenes in the conflict. FB users report that the Armenian community of the US staged a rally in front of the New York Times office in protest at the publication by the well-known war reporter Carlotta Gall.
The FB community shares results of the meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries in Geneva with mediation of the co-chairmen of OSCE Minsk group. They stress that after 6 hours the parties had agreed only on an exchange of POWs and the bodies of the soldiers, which might be a good opportunity for the hostages Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev to come back.
COVID-19. The Ministry of Education announced some anticipated difficulties in transferring to distant learning from 2 November due to quarantine, and that a number of measures were being undertaken to facilitate the process, such as extending the range of possible platforms. Because VPN causes difficulties in using the applications, the education platforms will not use VPN any more.
Human rights issue. The investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil urges the following of international conventions in the treatment of the adversary in the war. Azerbaijani defence ministry should investigate all cases of vandalism and ill-treatment of POWs. All videos should be investigated, and perpetrators should be brought to justice. “And don’t tell me it is less than what the other side is doing. Any comparison with terrorists is unacceptable” she concludes. The female journalist remembers her report at the time of the first Karabagh war. A woman IDP told her then that when she and her brother were escaping the Armenian army from their Kelbajar home, she asked her brother to save one bullet for herself in case the Armenians captured her. She also reminds readers of the suicide of Azerbaijani women who could not stand the sufferings (rapes) of Armenian capture. She noted that after the Ganja shelling, many women in the city sleep fully dressed in case of repeated attacks. Ilkin Rustamzade raises the issue of political prisoners, and urges the government to release all of them. Khadija Ismayil, while praising foreign journalists for asking human rights-related questions of president Aliyev, points to their inaccurate knowledge of the subject, which results in misleading the reader.
Reference to history. The historian Jamil Hasanli shares his impressions of the social networks of the neighbours. He stresses that there is an “obsession with history”, where the historical narratives remind those of mythology, as they claim for instance that Adam and Eve originated and lived in Armenia even naming the specific place. He comments that they are lost in the past and present, and with this obsession of historical myths not only bring misfortune to themselves but also to their neighbours.
Georgian Election. The activists and political leaders follow the elections in Georgia. Some comment that the chances of the opposition bloc “The strength is in Unity” which includes the party of former president Mikhail Saakashivili, has increased also due to the latter’s support for the Azerbaijan army’s victories. If Russia does not interfere in these elections and they are free and fair, then the elected parliament will open a new era in Georgia, the comments claim.
Relations with the US. The McDonalds branch in Baku is being boycotted due to deletion of the Azerbaijani postings on social networks by the other side. FB users also call on the public not to get worried about the statement of the US president’s advisor Robert O’Brian before the LA Armenian community about possible Scandinavian peacekeepers in Karabagh, because there are neither political nor technical conditions to that proposal, and without both parties’ agreement, the peacekeepers cannot be brought to the zone of conflict. They consider that this statement is mainly an election-related attempt to attract the Armenian electorate, and to counter the argument of Russian peacekeepers.
Relations with Russia. The newspaper Azadlig published an article entitled “Why does Putin not see the easy way of resolution of the Karabagh problem?” It develops around the statement of Putin, that there is no easy solution to the Karabagh problem. The article asserts that Putin does not want Armenia to lose in this conflict. Putin got upset with the fact that Turkey’s Bayraktar TB-2 PUA has easily destroyed all the weapons which Russia supplied Armenia during the last 30 years. This war also destroyed the myth of Russian weapon’s superiority. The victory of Azerbaijan in this war may mean the beginning of a defeat of Russians in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. It ends with the conclusion that Russia will not succeed in her goal, as Azerbaijan has Turkey to support it and that Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will also free their lands. The activists shared the photos from the last meeting of CSTO in Samarkand, with the comments, that “we cannot continue our membership in this Kolkhoz”. They also stress that the chief of the Army Headquarters, Najmaddin Sadikhov, who has a scandalous reputation of a pro-Russian figure, stood at a distance on the photo from the rest of organization’s members, because of the presence of the Armenian delegation. People approached ambiguously the local rally of the Russian community in Baku, where the flags of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Russia were carried in cars. They also report that Russia has warned Armenia against its export of tomatoes touched by a disease. FB informs that Armenia reported the shooting of two Russian border troops on the Armenian border by Azerbaijan, but the Embassy of Russia denied the information.
Relations with the US. FB reports that the US official’s statement at the briefing in Geneva about an unconditional ceasefire was met with surprise by politicians and dissatisfaction among the public in Azerbaijan. The activist says that one of the reasons of the growing anti-Western sentiments in the population is the failure to define the aggressor as an aggressor, because Azerbaijani society unanimously considers this battle just and fair. “Today the foreign minister Bayramov in Geneva represents not Aliyev’s government, but justice in regard to all children killed in Barda and Ganja. The world should firstly provide for the return of 20% of Azerbaijan lands and justice for these killed children”.
Relations with Israel. The FB community shares the twitter comment of the former Israeli diplomat about the capacity of Israeli defence system which has protected the citizens of Sderot, Ashkeron and Beer Shevadan from similar (to Armenian) tactics in their own war – when defeats on the battlefields were compensated by attacks on civilians.
Relations with Turkey. The political leaders and Fb users share the news about and commemorate death of the former premier of Turkey Mesut Yilmaz, who was the first to recognize independence of Azerbaijan. The FB users share the news about the earthquake in Izmir, having taken 12 lives and injured 522, and express their condolences to the Turkish people. The activists, political and civil leaders praise the visit of Turkey’s foreign minister Chavushoglu and his expression of full support for Azerbaijan.
Relations with Iran. FB users continue to discuss Iran’s building of fortifications on the border with Azerbaijan, specifically in the villages Soltanli, Khalafli, Khudaferin, and Gumlag.
Relations with Poland. The FB community follows the news from Poland, where in reaction to the new law prohibiting abortions, protest rallies have been lasting for a week. The commentators report clashes with police, and observe that the previous law was one of the strictest in Europe anyway.
November 3, 2020