Russian expert: Vardanyan understands that Azerbaijani Army will enter Khankendi
    Caliber.Az interview with Sergey Markov

    INTERVIEWS  19 December 2022 - 17:14

    Matanat Nasibova

    Caliber.Az interviewed a well-known Russian state and public figure, diplomat Sergey Markov.

    - Mr. Markov, how do you assess the rally of Azerbaijani ecoactivists on the section of the Shusha-Khankendi highway?

    - The action of Azerbaijani environmentalists, in my opinion, is absolutely legal and politically justified. First of all, because the whole territory of Karabakh is Azerbaijan, and the natural resources in Karabakh are the property of Azerbaijan, which is recognized by the whole world, including Russia. Therefore, the illegal removal of ore from the mines is the looting of Azerbaijan's natural resources. This process is carried out by those who temporarily control the occupied part of Karabakh territories. The issue of taking the ore out of the gold-bearing sources became even more urgent with the appearance of the billionaire Ruben Vardanyan in the Armenian-controlled part of Karabakh, who is well aware that after three years, when the first term of peacekeepers' presence there expires, the Azerbaijani Army will come to Khankendi instead, and it will be impossible to exploit the natural resources of Karabakh. That's why maximum efforts are made now to remove a considerable amount of ore from Karabakh.

    On the other hand, Azerbaijani environmentalists should demand not only to stop the plundering of Karabakh's natural resources but also to prevent Armenians from destroying the natural environment and infrastructure of the region. It is known that Armenians in Aghdam and Kalbajar burned houses and destroyed infrastructure before they left, and there is no doubt that this outrage can be repeated in three years. That is why it is right to create a register of property already now. This will give Azerbaijan the grounds to apply to international courts so that in case of another destruction of property in Karabakh, Armenia will have to compensate for the damage caused. So, the action of the Azerbaijani public did not appear spontaneously, it was promoted by the intensification of the illegal exploitation of natural resources of Karabakh and the threat of the destruction of infrastructure before Armenia will be forced to completely stop the occupation of Azerbaijani territories.

    - Don't you think that Yerevan is trying to draw Russia into the Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontation?

    - Yerevan is now escalating the situation due to the fact that time is running out. Armenia is well aware that the Azerbaijani Army is much stronger, and the Armenian army will be defeated again in case of military operations. That is why Armenia is trying to find someone else to fight Azerbaijan. Yes, it counted most on Russia's help. However, Moscow takes a neutral position in the conflict between Baku and Yerevan, and refused to fight on Armenia's side. Obviously, Armenia is trying to involve France in this process, and to provoke Russia, trying to quarrel with Azerbaijan, using the factor of Russian peacekeepers in the process. I think this is one of Armenia's main strategies.

    - And how do you assess the actions and steps of the Russian peacekeepers in Karabakh?

    - You see, the Russian peacekeepers are now in a difficult situation, because, on the one hand, they do not control Vardanyan, and therefore he himself exports ore from Karabakh. On the other hand, it turns out that the peacekeepers are responsible for the movement of these trucks and the export of ore. But it must be understood that they do not have the authority to check these trucks.

    - Armenia is still refusing to launch the Zangazur corridor, although it has pledged to do this according to the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020. Why doesn't Russia influence Yerevan to open Zangazur corridor?

    - Moscow benefits from the opening of the Zangazur corridor since this transport artery connects Russia with Türkiye. And Russia and Türkiye have very intensive economic relations.

    On the other hand, unblocking the Zangazur corridor is an important condition for the agreement of November 2020. However, the corridor should be extraterritorial, and Russia supports this approach. Moscow urges Armenia to do this, but it does not have the ability to demand this from Armenia in an ultimate manner.

    - Under what conditions can a peace treaty be signed between Baku and Yerevan?

    - An Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty can be concluded on the condition that all of Karabakh is Azerbaijani, and the Armenian community remaining there in Azerbaijani territory will live under Azerbaijani laws, will not be governed from Yerevan, will not have any autonomy, and will not be used in any way by outside forces to destabilize the situation in the region.

    This logical approach will be implemented within the framework of the agreement between Baku and Yerevan in any case. Again, this is the main condition. But in addition, the results of demarcation and delimitation of borders should be recorded in a peace treaty with a high probability. Actually, Pashinyan is ready to sign a peace treaty on the basis of those principles put forward by Baku. But the problem is that Pashinyan is afraid of being overthrown or even killed. I believe this is the reason why he is always looking for another force that would dare to get involved in the conflict and strengthen Armenia, giving it more opportunities to promote its interests within the framework of the document. That is, Pashinyan can sign this treaty at almost any moment, and on the other hand, he may not do so for years to come because of his fears and phobias.



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