Center for National and International Studies
“… Without Turkey it is not possible to deter Russia in the region …”
The FB community mourn the officially announced number of those killed in the war – 2, 786 – and honour the war heroes by a national minute of silence. They continue to discuss the results of the 44-day war and implementation of the ceasefire agreement, share personal stories of the killed or injured, report on visiting their families, express dissatisfaction with the amount of state compensation for families of martyrs and handicapped, call on the population to fight corruption, decry Russian peacekeeping activities in the country and express their concern with the non-withdrawal of the Armenian troops from a few remaining regions in Upper Karabagh.
The country has mourned and honoured the memory of the 2,783 soldiers killed in the 44-day war by a national minute of silence across the country on December 4th at 12.00 noon local time. All transport stopped and enterprises made a break to pay tribute to the national heroes. The official number of the missing is 100, while that of the wounded is ? Political and civil leaders tell individual stories of martyrs and honour the courage of the young people who died in the war. The investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil, who lost her nephew in the war, tells the story of his friend who visited them and was injured but refused surgery in the military hospital, similar to her nephew, because they preferred to give their places to seriously injured soldiers. Mehman Huseynov, the blogger and youth activist, who just survived cancer, has been visiting families of those killed, and those who were injured. He tells the story of the heroism of Intigam Akberov, who lost his right hand and left leg in the war while de-mining the territories being liberated. Intigam told him that he was happy that there were no other soldiers around when it happened to him. He said that his dream is to get a prosthesis and go back to the liberated territories to complete the de-mining of those lands.
Meydan TV prepared a report from the villages of Kelbajar and Lachin regions where the Armenians are staying, explaining why they were burning their houses, because they did not want leave them for Azerbaijanis.
Ali Karimli of PFP while speaking about restoration of the liberated territories attracts attention to the struggle with corruption without which the sacrifices of lives during the war are meaningless. He also posts the speech by the founder of the fist Azerbaijan Democratic Republic Rasuzade stating that 100 years after it did not lose its actuality.
Natig Jafarli of REAL, while praising the military victories of the country, and honouring the heroism of the soldiers, urges moving towards the speedy creation of a society based on the rule of law and prosperity for the sake of those who gave their lives for the better future of everyone.
Osmangizi TV discusses the OSCE call to change the Russian peacekeepers and the 5 lateral formats suggested by Ilham Aliyev, as well as the way Azerbaijan can counteract Armenia’s attempts to “blackmail” the West by using the Upper Karabagh issue.
Azadlyg newspaper reports that Azerbaijanis were not allowed by the Russian “peacekeepers” access to the area of the monastery Khudaveng in the village of Veng, under the excuse that there were 5 Armenian priests there. The witnesses confirm that one of those “priests”, whose photo was attached, was a war criminal. The FB community shares a video of dialogue between the Azerbaijani and Armenian soldiers, with a dose of scepticism and mistrust towards the adversary.
Gubad Ibadoglu calls on the community to consolidate its efforts and to turn the military victories into civil victories and to fight the ills of society, such as corruption, by implementing “32 important steps”, developed as the programme for the fight against corruption by the ADR movement, of which he is a leader. He adds that the people who liberated Shusha can easily win over corruption. The FB community shares the results of the war, such as of 15 copper-gold deposits, 13 were returned under control of Baku, according to Armenian sources they have lost up to 70% of arable lands and 70% of gardens, of 12,000 sq. km, 3000 is left under Russian-Armenia control, Azerbaijan has returned 40% of its lands without fighting, while 33% as a result of fighting.
The journalists and activists analysing the number of martyrs ask the question whether it was possible to avoid so many victims – as Khadija Ismaylova put it– both to return the land, and to save lives of the young people? She argues that probably in the complex geopolitical situation of the country, that would be a luxury, but also stresses the role of Russian agents in the army, poor governance and corruption. Tofig Yagublu suggests the resolution of the other issue – How come, he asks, one (Heydar Aliyev) comes and gives to Armenia, in addition to Upper Karabagh, 6 regions and is called the “hero and saviour”? Then the other comes (Ilham Aliyev) and re-takes the same 6 regions and is also called hero and saviour – How can this be? The journalist from Azadlyg newspaper is criticising the authorities for humanitarian aid from Russia, which is delivered to Armenian separatists, who preserved their armed forces and do not recognize territorial integrity of the country.
Tofig Yagublu praised the work of the National Security Agency which disclosed the personality of the thief of state aid from the cards of the war victims – Rustamov Ramil – and urges it to continue to investigate criminal acts, rather than following the activities of the opposition, creating traps for them, or blackmailing them. He also compares the amount of compensation/insurance given to the victims’ families in the resource-rich Azerbaijan and resource-poor Armenia, where this aid is two times higher.
COVID-19 pandemic. The Azadlyg newspaper writes about the dangerous level of infection rate and its unpredictable nature and the deficit of the so-far most effective pills against it – Favipravir, being sold on the black market for 500 manats (nearly $250). There is a reminder that earlier this year the medicine Arbidol was sold 7 times higher than its official price. The author blames the monopolies, pointing out that there is no difference between those who have looted the occupied lands and those who are enriching themselves from the people’s health.
Meydan TV quotes the head of the TABIB working group on infectious diseases, Natig Aliyev, as saying that the rate will reach its peak in January-February and if the quarantine rules are not followed, the number if infected may increase 2-3 times. He also stressed that there are cases of repeated infection and strongly recommended the imposition of the strict quarantine. Some report cases of corruption in accepting the patients at the clinics for treatment. They urge transparency in the expenditure in the health sector. Gubad Ibadoglu reminds everyone that while there is a high need for free tests and affordable medicine, the 114,215,000 manats accumulated in the fund for the struggle with coronavirus are not being utilized and that there is no transparency in its expenditure.
Human rights and social issues. Ali Karimli of PFP reports that father, Ramid Nagiyev, of the political prisoner from the Karabagh rally and members of his party, started a hunger strike on the 2nd December to protest against the illegal imprisonment of his son Zakarulla and other political prisoners. The activists, human rights defenders and political leaders are campaigning for the release of political prisoner Babek Hasanov of the PFP, who got infected by COVID-19 in prison and whose life is in danger, as 10 prisoners have already died there. The oil workers’ rights defender Mirvari Gahramanli reports on the workers of the oil industry, who were stuck in quarantine in the “village of athletes” without proper food or heating system for 10 days. She appeals to the vice-president of SOCAR Yasha Latifov to immediately resolve the issue, as the workers’ departure is being delayed by excuses of absence of boats, or the wind. She urges the resolution of the issue of rights of the 1,500-2,000 staff of SOCAR, who faced discrimination in compensation during the pandemic. The FB community also commemorates the 5th year since the big fire on State Oil Company’s drilling platform 10 at Guneshli oil field, which resulted in the deaths of 30 oil workers. The court of appeal will review the case of the human rights defender from Sumgayit, Elchin Mammad, who was arrested on trumped-up charges of illegal storage of weapons (article 228.1) and theft (177.2.4). The group of prominent human rights defenders appealed to President Aliyev to provide for a fair trial.
The expert community welcomes the decision to build a memorial complex to the Patriotic War and the Victory in the capital city. They also suggest building a Karabagh research library and museum complex in Agdam. The FB community shares with grief the death of Gardashkhan Ramazanov, the soldier’s father , after he heard the news that his son was killed in the front. FB reports on the release of another activist of the Popular Front Party in the July 2020 “Karabagh rally”- prisoner Ramid Naghiyev.
The FB activist community mourn the death from COVID-19 of the prominent legal defender Adil Ismayilov, who has defended numerous political prisoners and opposition activists, and was distinguished by his integrity, commitment to democratic values and high professionalism. Hebib Muntazir spreads information of illegible aid for the victims of the war, ranging from 3,000 manat for burial expenditures to 11,000 manats ($6.000) compensation/insurance for any family member killed, or financial aid from the Heydar Aliyev foundation at 10,000 manat. He describes the extent of social issues related to the war and numerous calls for help spread by their families via social networks. Ilkin Rustamzade, the youth activist, suggests that just as the country was divided into spheres of business and political influence between the oligarchs entrusted with the development of the regions, the restoration of the newly liberated regions should be entrusted to the oligarchs, who are now almost all out of power and feel offended by the regime, but could use their riches to restore and revive the destroyed regions.
The lawyer Alasgar Ahmadoglu posted under the rubric “No comment” the quotation from the article by Adalet Valiyev, head of the department of the presidential apparatus, who wrote that “in order to contribute to the ongoing dialogue between the opposition and the government, the latter had helped many political leaders and their families to resolve health and other issues”. The journalist Nurlan Libre reports the delay on the part of the executive powers in helping to put the headstones on the graves of soldiers killed in the war – in regions such as Kurdamir, where families of the martyrs were complaining. In this region only, 35 lives were lost in the war. The complaints about poor living conditions of the families of war martyrs are increasing.
Reference to history. The historian Jamil Hasanli recalls the problems with Albanian historiography and the doctoral thesis of the prominent historian Albanologist Farida Mammadova. The Armenian historians had written a letter of protest about this thesis to Gorbachov, just a week before the defence of the thesis which was planned on 15 April 1987. They called it a falsification and a blow both to the science and from the political point of view. While they did not manage to prevent the defence of it, some of the Azerbaijani academics who wanted to show their loyalty to the Soviet power have most strictly criticized her thesis and thus undermined national Albanian historiography.
Perception of Armenia. The activist of the Musavat party, Yadigar Sadyghlli, reports that the Sisakan volunteer fighters group commander Ashot Minasyan has called Pashinian for a duel and given him priority right to choose the place, type of weapon and the first shot. He comments with humor that how can one behave in a way based on Duma’s books in their age? Richelieu would come and put them both in prison anyway… Meydan TV reports that Nikol Pashinian also said that the state borders restored after the trilateral agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia should not be turned into the new front line. The activists share a quotation from the leader of the Armenia opposition Vazgen Manukian, who said that if they come to power, they will firstly create the union and a common front against Turkey and will be at the forefront of this fight – nobody should even doubt it.” FB users add that he is a follower of ex-presidents Kocharian and Sargisian.
Relations with Turkey. The member of Milli Majlis and of the ruling party, Aydin Mirza-zade in his interview to Meydan TV told that any peacekeeping operation in Upper Karabagh is not possible without Turkey’s participation, as it is the one of the most significant power centres not only of the region, but of the world. The MP Rasim Musabayov in turn stated that the location of Turkey’s peacekeepers in Karabagh will not be an added value to peace, as it will not cause any sense of security for the Armenians, but rather the opposite. The statement bout order to mitigate risks connected to the arrival of Russian troops to Azerbaijan the country should strengthen the military-defence role of Turkey in Azerbaijan to deter Russia. The time will show whether the West will be able to stop Russia’s expansion in Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine, but without Turkey this is not possible in our region, he concludes.
Relations with France. The FB community shares news that the French National Assembly repeated the mistake of the Senate by adopting on 3rd December the resolution on “Defence of the Armenian people and protection of the European and Eastern Christian communities”. The local official commentator argues that this is happening against a background of total pressure of France on its Muslim communities and mosques. He calls the previous resolution by a Senate a groundless, unfair and damaging claim. The activists and journalists share the statement by the French Minister of European and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Ives Le Drian, that France will not recognize the independence of the Upper Karabagh region, because it would mean rejection of their role as mediator.
Relations with Russia. The FB community criticises the decision of the Russian mobile operator company Beeline to work in the Upper Karabagh area and expect the government to react to that. FB users argue that the telegram channel which spreads the video of mistreatment of the captured soldiers by Azerbaijanis is a Russian channel. It circulates the statement by the press secretary of Putin, Dmitrii Peskov, that “unlike other states, Russia’s position on the status of Upper Karabagh has been long defined by well-known UNSC resolutions”. Seymur Hezi points to the fact that Russia bears responsibility for the course of implementation of the trilateral agreement by the Armenian army, as she is the only mediator. But the Armenian armed forces have still not withdrawn from Khankendi, Khojavend, Agdere and Khojali.
Events in Moldova. The FB community follows the elections in Moldova and greets victory of pro-Western candidate Maya Sandu. They report with concern that the pro-Kremlin parliament adopted a decision transferring the area of security from the area of responsibilities of the president to that of the parliament. They note that upon her election, she declared that Russian troops should leave Transnistria republic. This prompted provocations against the pro-Western president of the country, which increases – in the opinion of FB users – the tension in the country. The e-media reports beginning of the rallies in the country against the Russian peacekeepers. They demand the dissolution of the parliament, which is dominated by the supporters of pro-Russia ex-president Igor Dodon, and the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeepers, which the new president made her policy priority.
December 8, 2020