"Under Aliyev’s leadership, all structures worked for Karabakh’s return"
Sergey Markov in touch with Caliber.Az
INTERVIEWS 09 November 2022 - 09:45
The victory in the Second Karabakh War, which the Azerbaijani people celebrate on November 8, is of great importance not only for the country, but also for the entire region, because it means that Azerbaijan has moved to a new league of states - the league of winners. Russian statesman and public figure, diplomat Sergey Markov, made the remarks in an interview with Caliber.Az, commenting on the second anniversary of Azerbaijan's historic victory in the Second Karabakh War in 2020. Markov also commented on the important factors that contributed to this.
About President Ilham Aliyev's role in victory
"President Ilham Aliyev is the real creator of Azerbaijan's victory in the 44-day Second Karabakh War of 2020. His name has been inscribed in golden letters in Azerbaijan’s history forever. In my opinion, to achieve this historic victory, Aliyev has fulfilled several important tasks. Firstly, he consolidated the Azerbaijani people’s political will to liberate Karabakh. A quarter-century has passed since Armenia seized Karabakh and seven surrounding districts, and many other nations could simply wave their hands and say "this is fate". But the people of Azerbaijan did not stop dreaming about the return of Karabakh and continued to work in this direction. This is the Azerbaijani leader’s great merit. He has always supported the spirit of the people, always and everywhere declaring that Karabakh is Azerbaijan! Accordingly, all state institutions of the country under his leadership worked for the return of Karabakh, for the consolidation of the Azerbaijani people’s political will around this nationwide task.
The second task that President Aliyev has solved is the creation of a powerful modern army. For this purpose, Azerbaijani servicemen were trained taking into account the combat experience of the strongest armies in the world. Both Russian and Turkish officers passed on their experience to the Azerbaijani army, and the experience of many other countries was also indirectly involved in this direction. The magnificent Azerbaijani special forces were trained, which demonstrated unprecedented fighting qualities at the crucial moment of Shusha’s liberation. After passing through kilometres of difficult paths through mountains and forests, the Azerbaijani special forces reached the foot of the surrounding cliff and, climbing it, was able to liberate Shusha, effectively ensuring the victorious end of the 44-day war.
Undoubtedly, the famous Turkish UAVs played a significant role in this war, which in many ways opened a new chapter in the military history of mankind, as did the magnificent Russian weapons - missile systems that allowed the Armenian army's long-term defensive structures, which had been built for a quarter-century, to be torn to shreds.
The third task that determined the outcome of the victory was to build a strong economy on which to build a strong army. The Azerbaijani economy grew so well that it was possible to not only "make guns," but also, relatively speaking, "make butter".
On the other hand, despite the growing Azerbaijani population, the standard of living has steadily increased, ensuring the social consolidation of Azerbaijani society, which is also an important fact.
The fourth most important task that was successfully solved was the diplomatic one, which allowed creating a favourable international environment for Baku. Azerbaijan has received a powerful ally in Türkiye. Furthermore, Ilham Aliyev was able to ensure Russia's and the rest of the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organisation] member states' benevolent neutrality during the 2020 war. As a result, despite Armenia's discontent, all the CSTO member states have taken a clear position: Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, so there will be no interference on the side of Yerevan.
At the same time, from the point of view of the general international situation, President Aliyev was able to ensure that no international organisation in any way recognised the self-proclaimed "republic" in Karabakh. All states adhered to the strict line that Karabakh is Azerbaijan, and that Azerbaijan has the right to return the territories occupied by Armenia under its control by all possible means, including military ones.
Thanks to all these important factors, as a result of the victory in the war with Armenia, Azerbaijan has turned into a country with a powerful modern army capable of defending its interests, as well as the interests of its allies, if necessary. The spirit of the victors that emerged as a result of the war in the Azerbaijani people is very strongly felt by everyone and will have numerous positive consequences for Azerbaijan. Mainly because it is with the spirit of the winner that many important tasks are solved," Sergey Markov said, noting that after the liberation of Karabakh, an opportunity has emerged to fully unblock all regional transport communications, which, in turn, will allow Azerbaijan to develop even more effectively.
Factor of Aliyev and Putin
"The relations between Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev are friendly and respectful. We can say that both presidents have a brilliant education, very extensive political experience, both are respected in their countries and by other peoples. In fact, we can say that both are on the same wavelength, they have excellent personal relations, the basis of which was actually laid by Vladimir Putin's historic visit to Baku in 2013. The two presidents are striving to resolve the Karabakh issue and to maximize the relationship with each other.
As for the relations between Azerbaijan and Russia, in my opinion, they are friendly, I would say that in many ways they are even fraternal. But they are based on several factors. The first is a common historical destiny, the peoples of Russia and Azerbaijan lived together within the framework of the same states, such as the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union, and for several centuries. Secondly, it is a huge interweaving of societies. Russian community exists in Azerbaijan, which feels great, it is represented in the [Azerbaijani] parliament, and the Orthodox community, which is largely Russian, also enjoys great support from the Azerbaijani state and also feels comfortable in Azerbaijani society.
At the same time, the Azerbaijani community in Russia is also well integrated, and is often successful in terms of business and living standards. We can say that it is quite rich and does not feel any infringement in Russian society. Both communities connect two countries.
In addition, our countries are linked by a common position on the international arena, on many issues. It is not for nothing that the delegations of Azerbaijan and Russia have been closely cooperating with each other in PACE for many years, and have also taken the same position on a number of issues, including in the UN.
From an economic point of view, our countries are actively cooperating, a large bilateral trade has been established between them. Together, our countries are implementing such serious projects as the North-South transport corridor. And what is also important to note, while supplying energy to the European market, Russia and Azerbaijan have been trying not to compete all these years, but to interact as much as possible," the Russian diplomat continued.
On prospects of signing a peace treaty
"It is difficult to predict how soon the issues of signing a peace agreement and full recognition by Armenia that Karabakh is Azerbaijan can be resolved. But there is a deadline beyond which all this will not last - that is, in three years. If no agreements take place during this time, then it is highly likely that the agreement of November 10, 2020 will not be extended, the Russian peacekeepers, in the absence of a mandate to continue their activities, will quietly collapse their bases and leave the region, and the Azerbaijani army will enter the zone of their dislocation. I think there won't even be fighting, because the much weaker Armenian army will not dare to counteract, and then in three years this issue will be resolved in a tough way.
Recognizing this, the Armenian leadership, as well as some Karabakh Armenians, seek to resolve the issue sooner, but they hesitate all the time. What distinguishes Pashinyan's position is that, on the one hand, he recognizes that it would be correct to recognize Karabakh as Azerbaijan and, among other things, impose a transport blockade on Armenia and begin to establish relations with Baku and Ankara. But he is afraid that in this case he will be accused of treason, he will either be overthrown, blown up, or shot, as is often customary in very violence-oriented Armenian politics, so he is maneuvering. I believe that Armenia is delaying the process of demarcation and delimitation, as well as the issue of opening the Zangazur corridor in order to preserve its special sovereignty over this transport corridor, and is not ready to make it extraterritorial. I believe that the signing of a peace treaty can happen in the near future if Pashinyan has enough political will, otherwise Azerbaijan will regain control over the entire territory of Karabakh by armed means in three years," Sergey Markov summed up.
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