Azerbaijan's diplomatic masterstroke: Return of occupied villages marks strategic achievement
    New geopolitical reality

    ANALYTICS  21 April 2024 - 11:43

    Matanat Nasibova
    Caliber.Az

    Azerbaijani diplomacy demonstrated another strong move in regional politics, masterfully defending the national interests of our country.

    As already reported, following the results of the eighth meeting of the State Commission on the Delimitation of the State Border between Azerbaijan and Armenia and the Commission on the Delimitation of the State Border and Border Security between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Armenia, chaired by the Deputy Prime Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, Shahin Mustafayev and Mher Grigoryan, which took place on April 19 at the conditional border Yerevan agreed to return four villages to Baku that have been under Armenian occupation since the early 1990s. The historical significance of this event is that without a single shot or bloodshed, agreements were reached on returning non-enclaved villages of the Gazakh region to Azerbaijani control.

    Let us recall that the protocol following the meeting indicated that at the initial stage of the delimitation process, the parties previously agreed on the passage of individual sections of the border line directly between the settlements of Baganis (Armenia) - Baganis Ayrim (Azerbaijan), Voskepar (Armenia) - Ashagi Askipara (Azerbaijan), Kirants (Armenia) - Kheyrimli (Azerbaijan) and Berkaber (Armenia) – Gyzylhajyly (Azerbaijan). The parties also agreed that the delimitation process would be based on the Almaty Declaration of 1991. The importance of this event, which the Azerbaijani side insisted on, cannot be underestimated also because the process of border delimitation is considered one of the most important conditions on the path to achieving a comprehensive peace agreement between Baku and Yerevan.

    After President Aliyev raised the issue of returning the occupied border villages to Azerbaijan in 2020, active work was carried out in this direction, and the agreements reached on April 19 became a logical and positive outcome of this process. Moreover, the agreements reached yesterday on border delimitation create real preconditions for the return of our other villages, where their real owners, the Azerbaijanis, will be able to return in a short time.

    Let us note that, due to its strategic importance, Azerbaijan insisted on starting delimitation specifically in the Gazakh region and achieved this goal thanks to its flexible diplomacy, which, in fact, was recognized in Yerevan. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, commenting to journalists today on the return of four villages to Baku, acknowledged the fact that for the first time Armenia and Azerbaijan were able to resolve the problem of part of the border through negotiations.

    “I wouldn’t want us to overestimate what happened, but I wouldn’t want us to underestimate either. It is very important to state that for the first time Armenia and Azerbaijan resolved the issue at the negotiating table,” Pashinyan said.

    Indeed, this important event clearly confirmed the high professionalism of Azerbaijani diplomacy under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, who managed to create a new geopolitical reality in the South Caucasus in difficult conditions of the rapidly changing world order. It was under the leadership of President Aliyev that Azerbaijan won a brilliant victory in the 44-day Patriotic War of 2020, which ended the long-standing occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia.

    Azerbaijan has fully restored its territorial integrity and sovereignty, bringing the entire Karabakh region back under its legitimate control as a result of an anti-terrorist operation in September 2023, and the separatist junta in Karabakh has faded into oblivion. At the same time, all attempts by Armenia and its Western patrons to preserve the remnants of the fake entity in Karabakh and move the negotiation process into the context of discussing some kind of status have utterly failed.

    In addition, Baku and Moscow resolved the issue of the early withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping contingent (RCC) from the territory of Azerbaijan in a constructive and good-neighbourly atmosphere. And this fact once again clearly confirmed the skilful diplomacy and independent policy of Baku. As a logical outcome, we all witnessed the great return of our ancestral territories to the Azerbaijani people and the revival of Karabakh.

    In this context, it is not superfluous to recall that in the history of Azerbaijan, the process of transferring our territories to Armenia began back in 1918-20, when people ignoring the national interests of the state were in power. And only after Heydar Aliyev came to the leadership of the Azerbaijan SSR in 1969 the process of distribution of Azerbaijani lands was stopped. Later, in the late 80s, the responsibility for the tragedy of the Azerbaijani people in connection with the occupation of our territories by Armenia fell on the shoulders of powerless leaders such as Bagirov, Vazirov, Mutallibov, Elchibey.

    Speaking about Azerbaijan's peaceful diplomatic approaches to the settlement of relations with Armenia, it is worth mentioning another important step achieved in this direction. In particular, the joint statement of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan and the Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia of December 7, according to which both countries reaffirmed their intention to normalize relations and reach a peace treaty based on respect for the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The statement said the talks resulted in an agreement to take tangible steps to build confidence between the two countries.

    As a goodwill gesture, Azerbaijan released 32 Armenian servicemen and Armenia released 2 Azerbaijani servicemen. Armenia withdrew its candidacy for the 29th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention (COP-29) on Climate Change in support of Azerbaijan's candidacy. But Azerbaijan, guided by the principles of humanism, supported Armenia's candidacy from the Eastern European group for membership in the SOR bureau. In other words, Baku and Yerevan confirmed the possibility not only of direct dialogue but also of achieving peace between the countries.

    President Ilham Aliyev called the decision to host COP29 in Azerbaijan a great success, noting that this was the result of Baku's strong position on a global scale. “The importance of this event also lies in the fact that this decision was made two and a half months after the anti-terrorist operation, and thus the entire world community once again expressed its support for Azerbaijan. I should also note that holding the COP29 conference in Baku became possible with the consent of all members of the international community. That is, a unanimous position has again emerged here,” the head of state said, noting that COP29 is one of the most prestigious international events in the world, and in terms of the representation of countries is not inferior to the UN General Assembly.

    To summarize, let us note once again: the agreements of April 19, 2024 and December 7, 2023 have clearly demonstrated that Armenia and Azerbaijan are capable of independently resolving all issues and reaching a consensus without the interference of third countries such as the United States, the European Union, especially France, which frightened the Armenian side with the fact that Baku was allegedly preparing an attack.

    Undoubtedly, it is the "mediation efforts" of the Western powers that prevent the achievement of lasting peace in our region. Azerbaijan understands this simple truth perfectly well and actively promotes this format. Now, after Baku and Yerevan have come close to a compromise on one of the important points of the future peace agreement at the negotiating table, the Armenian leadership should not slow down and seek support from the West. Yerevan should realize that France is trying to promote its interests here, not to solve the "security" issues of Armenians.

    Lasting peace in the region can only be achieved if Armenia stops being a tool in the hands of Western powers and continues an effective dialogue with Azerbaijan. Only in this way can long-awaited peace and tranquillity prevail in the South Caucasus.

     

    Caliber.Az

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