Center for National and International Studies
“When the verdict is issued, I want the world to see their faces …”
The FB community shares news on the liberation of the Lachin and Zangilan regions, but expresses concern about the delay in returning some parts of them; continues to denounce the arrival and behaviour of the Russian peacekeeping troops, calling them “occupiers”; criticizes the low size of compensation to families of killed troops; defines the principles of conflict resolution; criticizes the president’s choice of date for the National Victory Day, and decries the court’s decision of 1 year’s imprisonment for the opposition activist.
Public and civil leaders together with journalists celebrate the liberation of the Lachin region according to the schedule in the trilateral ceasefire agreement. They recall that it was occupied from the night of 17-18 May 1992. It is 1,835 square km. with one city, one settlement and 125 villages. The whole population of the region – 63,341 people, both Kurdish and Azerbaijani, was deprived of its homes and settled elsewhere in the country, some in dugouts. More than 300 of them were either killed in the war or went missing. The FB community shares the joy of the IDPs who can now return to their homes. However, due to the delay and lack of information about the course of the liberation of the city and villages they share their concern and worries about it. They are concerned about the fate of Khojali, Khojavend and Khankendi, as well as some villages of the Agdere and Shusha region, as the president did not mention them in his speech and did not refer to them as “ours”. However, Ilham Aliyev specified the situation with the city of Lachin: “When the parameters of the corridor are finalized, then Lachin city will be liberated too”. Natig Jafarli comments that the communities should be active in these areas, and demand Russian peacekeepers to provide for their security in these few regions, as well as speedy restoration of infrastructure, schools etc. from the Azerbaijan government. He proposes to erect a monument to the victims of Khojali genocide in the middle of town. The public and civil leaders express their protest against the decree of the president to declare 10th November as the National Victory Day and call to replace this with Nov 8th. Otherwise it would mean rewriting the victories of the national army in the name of the Russian state. Yadigar Sadyghli of Musavat argues that the military victory of Armenians in the first Karabagh war did not result in any good for them, as they lost their sense of reality, and that Azerbaijan is experiencing now the same syndrome. He calls for a change of rhetoric – all over – TV, media, social networks and on the part of officials too. He asserts that Pashinian is good for Azerbaijan, as most probably the paths of Karabagh and Armenia will part, since the former will be aligned with Russia, whereas the latter with the West, and Azerbaijan will have to get Karabagh back not from Armenia, but from Russia, along with the corridor to Nakhichevan.
Human rights and social issues. Ali Karimli, the leader of the PFP, denounces the court decision of sentencing the Karabagh war veteran and PFP activist Mahammad Imanli to 1 year in prison on fake charges of “spreading COVID-19”. He comments that this is particularly regrettable on the day of liberation of Lachin region. The FB community shares with dissatisfaction the amount of compensation which was allocated by the decree of president Aliyev. The amount of welfare for the Karabagh war victims or handicapped ranges from 210 to 300 manat, which is $123-176. Hebib Muntazir comments that it should be at least 3 times higher. Meydan TV reports that the MP Mirzazade told in his interview to the BBC that the issue of compensation to the victims and their families can be considered only for the next year’s budget. The lawyer Agil Layij reports cases of cheating by the government electronic system over the applicants for state aid. The applicant receives the SMS that he is offered a job and should choose the field of occupation within 5 days, and when the applicant looks for the job, he gets a new SMS that he rejected the offer and that’s why he is not eligible for the 190manat aid. The activists react to another proposal of dialogue by the chief of the department of the presidential apparatus, Adalat Veliyev, who again claimed that the opposition refuses it. Seymur Hezi of the PFP responds to this blaming by saying that since his appointment to the presidential apparatus, many sites of the opposition and independent media have been blocked, the office of the leading opposition party was exploded, while the door of the other was welded. The prisons were full of political activists. The decisions of the ECHR had not been implemented and compensation was not paid. “You not only did not fulfil your duties, but above that – attacked us!”, concludes the activist. The investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil reacts to the propaganda of Armenians that Azerbaijanis will show the POWs from the Armenian army at the victory marches in the Baku streets: “I do not need Armenian war criminals taken as prisoners to be publicly displayed in the March of Victory, as Armenian propaganda suggests may happen. İ need them to be tried in court and held accountable for what they have done for decades. When the verdict is issued, I want the world to see their faces.” The activists and journalists ask questions about the implementation of the ceasefire agreement. Hebib Muntezir points to the following problems: the Azerbaijani troops, in spite of the ceasefire agreement, continue to be killed; the village of Shushikend in the Khojali region is still under Russian-Armenian control; while the Agdam region was supposed to be fully restored, 8 villages still not returned although they were populated by Azerbaijanis; they speak about the contact line in Upper Karabagh while Ilham Aliyev said that this does not exist anymore. In violation of the 4th point of agreement, the Armenian forces are not leaving synchronistically with the arriving Russian peacekeeprs but are staying there; the peacekeeping monitoring center has not been established yet, and Turkish peacekeepers have not arrived either; Ilham Aliyev used the expression “under the control of Armenian forces”, while the whole of Lachin city was supposed to be returned; the Azerbaijani refugees and IDPs were supposed to return to their homes, but it is delayed, while more than 50 thousand Armenians have already, with the help of Russian forces, come to Upper Karabagh; the exchange of hostages and POWs is also delayed; the opening of the corridor to Nakhichevan seems to be a matter of the future. Muntezir concludes by demanding that the government gives a clear answer to these questions. Azadlyg newspaper reports that unreturned territory in Lachin is equal in size to two Baku cities and is 32,200 hectares (65km length and 5km width of the so-called corridor). The site Open Azerbaijan reports that Rahib Aliyev, the war volunteer from Yardimli, was refused targeted social aid. The youth activist and journalist Javid Gara writes about the elimination of woods by the ETSN on the border regions in the North of the country, Gusar region. The other youth activist Ilkin Rustamzade reports that Sezam firm took away moped which Chingiz Aliyev, who fought in the war, because he could not pay the credit.
Ali Karimli of PFP tells the story of the activist Tezekhan Miralamli, calling him a film hero type. He has combined democracy and opposition activism with the teaching mathematics at school. He joined the army in the first Karabagh war, and then returned to the school teaching. Then his son was arrested for 8 years on trumped up charges and himself was a subject of the slander campaign so had to leave home and his region and to move to Baku. His father and brother were also arrested because of opposition activities. But it never broke him or his position His youger son also fought in the Karabagh War II. Ali Karimli congratulated him of his anniversary and wished him along life and service to the country.
Gubad Ibadoglu presents an economic prediction according to which the highest world price of oil will be reached in 2023 at $53 per barrel and will affect the economy of Azerbaijan. It means that the devaluation of local currency will be unavoidable and this might explain the delay in the review of the 2021 budget in the parliament.
Reaction of political leaders. Political and civic leaders greet the liberation of Lachin region. Ali Kairmli, leader of the Popular Front Party, congratulates people with the liberation of the Lachin region and thanks Turkey for its help in the de-mining of the territories being liberated. He also critically assesses the amount of compensation to war veterans and victims, considering it unfair. Arif Hajili, leader of the Musavat party greeted the liberation of Lachin and praised the national army, who made this happen after 28 years and 6 months. Panah Huseyn, the leader of the Azerbaijan People’s Party congratulates the people, the army, the commanders, honours the victims in the victory, wishing it to lead to even greater victories. Natig Jafarli of REAL considers that Armenia has transferred its load of Karabagh onto Russia and that Azerbaijan from now on will have to deal directly with Russia on this issue. He also considers that people should regain other regions by means of “soft power”(economic, social, security, etc) and that “Chanakkale” would be not in the military field but in the diplomatic one. Tofig Yagublu of Musavat states that in the first Karabagh war Russia helped Armenia to occupy Azerbaijan’s lands, while in the second one is helping Armenia to establish an independent state in Azerbaijan. “For those who called the occupying forces the “peacekeepers” is the logical result”- he concludes.
The head of the “National Strategic Think Tank” Isa Gambar posted a statement related to the principles of regulation of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, among which are: the talks should be between the two states and specific – on the state borders between the two republics, the conduct of the referendum concerning the creation of any second state on the territory of Azerbaijan contradicts its constitution and is unacceptable, the “ status” of Upper Karabagh can be defined only within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and by means of all national referenda, the status of Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian origin should be resolved on the basis of parallel restoration of status of Azerbaijanis expelled from the 172 towns and villages over 8,000km in Armenia since 1988, the 26-year lasting mediation of three co-chairmen – Russia, France and the US – should be recognized as ineffective, its format changed with Turkey becoming part of its regulation, to bring in Russian troops under any label was a significant threat to Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and unacceptable, the damage to Azerbaijan and its compensation by Armenia should become an inseparable part of any peace agreement.
Gubad Ibadoglu of the ADR attracts attention to the following statements in the speech of president Aliyev on 1st December: 1) that the corridor connecting Armenia and Karabagh should not go as before via Lachin city, and it should be redirected within 3 years, but he hopes it would be done earlier 2) and that this is the last statement related to the provisions of agreement by the president. Ibadoglu asks if this road is needed for Armenia, why should Azerbaijan build it at its expense, and why should the locals wait for three years to return to their homes? He reported on the first meeting of the independent commission of experts from the US, France, Hungary, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia and Azerbaijan on damage assessment to Azerbaijan as a result of Armenian aggression. Fuad Gahramanli of the PFP lists 10 points of violation of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty within the ceasefire agreement and by the Russian peacekeepers. He concludes that due to these unresolved legal issues, the problem of Upper Karabagh cannot be considered resolved. One should not forget that it consists of two parts – Upper Karabagh and the other occupied territories. While the latter had now been liberated in the military way, the former should be resolved within the framework of the sovereignty of the state of Azerbaijan.
Reference to history. History professor Jamil Hasanli describes the situation with the IDPs who are now returning to their homeland in the Lachin region, from which they were expelled by the Armenian army 26 years ago. He comments that the occupiers behaved in a very humiliating way- settling Lebanese, Syrian, American and other Armenians there, who used the houses, property, and infrastructure of the locals and changed the name of the region (from Lachin to Berdzor). He recounts the ancient history of Lachin, which in times of antiquity was located in Caucasian Albania and was part of the Zangezur chain, then as part of Karabagh khanate, and subsequently as part of Ganja (Yelizavetpol) province under the Russian empire. He lists valuable artifacts and historical monuments reflecting the history of Azerbaijan, as well as prominent historical personalities, which were born in this region. He shares his feelings during the occupation of Lachin, closely connected to the song My Lachin by the famous singer Mahabbat Kazimov, who died before his land was liberated.
Perception of Armenia. The FB community shares the interview and article by Gerard Libaridian – representative of the Armenian Diaspora and former advisor on foreign policy to president Ter-Petrosian, who critically assesses the current policy of Armenian leadership and the limited remaining choices for the status of Upper Karabagh. FB users share with concern the fact, that the “president” of Upper Karabagh, Arayik Harutiunian, received the newly appointed minister of Defence of Armenia, Vagharshak Harutiunian. The activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev demands that the government report to the public on the status of Khankendi, Khojali and Khojavend. The FB community shares the video and interview of the Lebanese Armenian Abraham Eulchekchiyan on how he was attracted to the war in Karabagh by the Armenia state.
Relations with Russia. The FB community continues to decry the Russian peacekeeping force’s presence and activities in Azerbaijan. However, they praise and share the commentaries of the media anchor Maxim Shevchenko, who criticizes Armenian policy. The journalist Ganimad Zahid reports that police operations against Azerbaijanis in a few Russian provinces started which coincided with 10th November – the day of the signing of the trilateral agreement. He reports that owners of cafes, restaurants, small and medium business of Azerbaijani origin are being taken to police offices for interrogation, taking tests, mistreating them there. Ilkin Rustamzade with reference to the publication in the NY Times reports that Aliyev had a limited choice – either stop after Shusha and let in Russian peacekeepers, or continue and be bombarded by Russian ships in the Caspian and Russia planes flying in the vicinity of Baku. “The two rockets which hit Baku and Khirdalan shook the whole city”, he concludes. The e-media reports that Russian sources announced that it will use the airport in Khankendi to communicate and fly AN-12 and AN-26 and other helicopters to Upper Karabagh instead of the old ones in Khojali in the first decade of December. The FB community shares a quotation from Putin, who said that the agreement required significant personal courage of Armenian prime minister Pashinian. The activists argue that if Russian passports are to be given to the Armenians of Karabagh this will make the Russian occupation official. The Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry should subsequently issue a protest note.
Relations with France. The resolution of the French parliament continued to be the subject of discussion and criticism. Ganimad Zahid, the former editor of the Azadlyg newspaper, analysing its content and showing its absurdity, clarifies that “the return of Azerbaijani troops to their positions before 27 September” means withdrawal from the territories which France as a UNSC member in its 4 resolution recognized as illegally occupied by Armenia.
COVID-19 The economic experts attract attention to overcrowded buses due to the early closure of the metro, and to the dire situation in the dormitories where the IDPs live in densely populated conditions with their families sharing kitchens, bathrooms etc, such as the one in Sumgayit city in the settlements of Chemists, Samad Vurgun street. Ibadoglu reports that since the outbreak of the pandemic there was not a single disinfection there. The statistics in the country is worrying – the number of deaths stands at 37, while the newly infected is 3,942 as identified by 17,411 tests. Up till now, the total number of infected is 129,544 of whom 1470 have died.
December 4, 2020