"Azerbaijan has every right to do whatever it wants in Karabakh"
    Expert opinions on Caliber.Az

    INTERVIEWS  09 February 2023 - 11:54

    Samir Ibrahimov

    The Armenian side yet doesn't leave attempts to prove to the whole world that Baku allegedly blocks the road linking Armenia and the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Although the matter is only about a civilian (unarmed) barrier for the passage of illicit cargo.

    Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan recently met with Johann Wadephul, chairman of the Germany-South Caucasus Friendship Group of the Bundestag, during a working visit to Germany. According to the Foreign Ministry, "Minister Mirzoyan provided his interlocutor with details of the humanitarian crisis in Karabakh as a result of Azerbaijan's blockade of the Lachin corridor, stressing the need for the partner states to take clear steps to lift the blockade".

    Ararat Mirzoyan then spoke at a roundtable discussion at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. "Mirzoyan touched upon the humanitarian crisis arising in Karabakh as a result of Azerbaijan's blockade of the Lachin corridor," the statement said again.

    Next: Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov visited the Jerusalem Patriarchate of the Armenian Apostolic Church and met with Archbishop Nurhan Manukyan. According to the press service of Echmiadzin, "During the meeting, Manukyan asked the ambassador to convey his request to Putin that the Lachin corridor be opened as soon as possible through his direct mediation".

    The press service of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun, Hay Dat Committee of Canada reports that earlier "the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the Canadian Parliament convened two separate meetings to discuss the ongoing blockade of Karabakh by Azerbaijan".

    At the very beginning of these events, in December – early January, some international structures, and parliaments of a number of countries for some reason believed the complaints of Armenians abroad and almost immediately adopted resolutions and appeals demanding to "unblock" the Lachin road. Baku invariably showed and proved by video and photos that no one from the Azerbaijani side was preventing the passage, and moreover, everyday cars of the Red Cross and the Russian military go along the road in both directions, no one prevents peaceful Armenians to do the same - just do not transport weapons, ammunition and Armenian military into the territory of Azerbaijan.

    Afterward, the issue was slightly overshadowed and no one makes any statements about this, but the Armenian authorities, the diaspora, and the remnants of the Karabakh separatists continue to make noise and be indignant. Meanwhile, the action of environmental activists on the Lachin road continues. That is, in fact, the barrier to unlawful actions continues to exist.

    Can we consider that the attempts of the Armenian side to force Azerbaijan to give up control over its territory through international media pressure have already failed, and collapsed? Foreign experts shared their views on this issue with Caliber.Az.

    Kazakhstani political scientist Zhaksylyk Sabitov points out that there are two sides to this issue. The first plane is the legal one, according to which Karabakh is part of Azerbaijani territory. No one has recognised the independence of Karabakh, including Armenia. And therefore Azerbaijan has the right to do whatever it wants in Karabakh as its legally designated territory recognized by the international community.

    "The second point is, of course, the specific political situation around what is happening in and around Karabakh. Azerbaijan has already established a certain barrier, control over the Lachin corridor, even in the form of environmental activists. And here it should be noted that Baku, of course, has the right to do this, as international law is on its side.

    Yes, Karabakh Armenians want to retain some kind of status, but unfortunately for them, it is no longer possible - Azerbaijan has decided to reconsider the status quo, which it was not completely satisfied with.

    Under the current circumstances, Azerbaijan is behaving correctly, within its rights and responsibilities, and within the fact that Karabakh is part of it.

    It will be possible to say that it should have some kind of open Lachin corridor only after the opposite side begins to fulfill its obligations - for example, it will open the Zangazur corridor. That is, it would be fair if both corridors worked in parallel. If it is possible to achieve this, then there will be no questions left. But, in fact, now Azerbaijan is entitled to do what it is doing, and it is quite in line with international norms," he said.

    As far as can be seen, the circle of Western politicians and public figures who either sympathised with Armenia's position or harshly criticised the actions of the Azerbaijani side during the crisis over the Lachin corridor was about the same as they usually took a sympathetic stance towards Yerevan and on other key issues," said Mikhail Neyzhmakov, Director for Analytical Projects at the Agency for Political and Economic Communications (Moscow). - Perhaps, the circle of Western and international human rights organisations and people of art, who in one way or another have voiced their criticism of Baku, became somewhat wider. That is to say, at this point, Yerevan has failed to form a fundamentally broader coalition to put pressure on Baku than has been the case in other crisis situations in the region.

    It is worth bearing in mind that the wider Western audience rarely takes a priority interest in the situation in the South Caucasus, and at the moment its attention is largely distracted by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict (although, as is usually the case after about a year of active discussion on any topic, in the end, the public in those same Western countries gets tired of this topic), says the expert. Neyzhmakov believes that these factors, which complicate the information campaign in support of the Armenian position in Western media, are unlikely to disappear in the coming months.

    "Yerevan and representatives of Armenian communities are, of course, trying to find other tools to put pressure on Baku. One could mention, for example, a recent statement by Armenian Ambassador for Special Assignments Edmond Marukyan calling to put pressure through social media on foreign companies operating in Azerbaijan. Such a pressure campaign, if it is as effective as possible for its organizers, could alarm corporations focused on the production and sale of mass-demand products in countries where there are large Armenian communities, but, nevertheless, it is unlikely that it can seriously affect the position of official Baku.

    At the same time, the prospects for discussing all the contradictions between Baku and Yerevan in, for example, negotiations with Russia on the implementation of the provisions of the Trilateral Statement signed in November 2020, are also unclear. Although earlier telephone talks between Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, as well as the recent statement by Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan that he received further proposals (on the peace agreement) from Baku, show that some kind of consultation is still going on. This means that in the near future, we are likely to see some standstill of tension - both between Baku and Yerevan and in the situation around the Lachin corridor," Neyzhmakov concluded.


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