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A solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is possible but hostile rhetoric is counter-productive argues Hikmat Hajiyev.
Hikmat Hajiyev is the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.
Recent public statements by the Foreign Ministry of Armenia do not provide any constructive view on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict and development of region. This is profoundly regretful.
Using a narrative reminiscent of the Serzh Sargsyan era, the ministry at different levels only makes unfounded allegations against neighbouring countries without offering a vision for the future.
The Armenian side by all means is trying to omit the issue of occupation and military aggression, which constitute the fundamental basis of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. It is crystal clear that Armenia has occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding seven regions of Azerbaijan by use of force.
More than one million Azerbaijani civilians in the occupied territories have been subjected to bloody ethnic cleansing. As a result of this policy based on territorial expansion, Armenia has become a self-isolated country. As a land-locked small country with mountainous geography Armenia needs integration with its neighbours more than anyone else.
When the inevitable political crisis happened in Armenia, Azerbaijan stated that if the new government of Armenia pursues reasonable policies, it would be possible to make progress in resolving the conflict. But so far it seems that the new authorities of Armenia will tread the path of the previous regime.
The Armenian leadership has to understand that attempts to violate the internationally recognised borders of states and acquire territories by use of force are inadmissible.
The attempts to maintain the status-quo of occupation and annexation of Azerbaijan’s sovereign lands can never produce the desired political outcome and can in no way be considered legitimate by the international community.
On the contrary, the prolongation of the occupation will deepen the geopolitical and geoeconomic failure of Armenia. İnstead of wasting the formative period of their lives in the trenches in order to sustain occupation, Armenian youngsters deserve a better life.
Armenia’s new government says it is committed to the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
If it is true, then they now have a chance to demonstrate true commitment and respect to the international legal obligations of Armenia to withdraw troops from the occupied lands of Azerbaijan as demanded by UN Security Council resolutions, stop preventing the return of Azerbaijani internally displaced persons to their native lands and start building civil relations with neighbours.
The roadmap for a phased solution of the conflict is well-known to everyone. In an illustrative manner we can even call it ‘6D plan’, consisting of De-occupation, De-Militarization, De-mining, Deployment, Dialogue and Development.
De-occupation – as an initial step, the Armenian troops must be withdrawn from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan;
De-militarization – soldiers must return to their barracks;
De-mining – de-occupied areas must be cleared of mines and explosives, building necessary infrastructure and basic services as part of post-conflict rehabilitation;
Deployment – the return of Azerbaijani IDPs to their homes with dignity and security;
Dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan with the aim of building confidence and ethnic reconciliation;
Development – all these complementary and phased steps can contribute to the comprehensive development of the region, integration of Armenia into regional processes and guaranteeing lasting peace and security. In a nutshell, it is a win-win scenario for everyone.
In the mid 1990s, as students preparing for an exam testing our English language skills, our professor shared one extremely important tip for passing the exam: “If you are faced with a difficult question, do not over-concentrate on it, answer other questions and move forward, otherwise it can cause your complete failure of the exam.”
The solution to such a complex conflict as Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh within one package is mission impossible.
But let’s be realistic and not waste our time and resources on illusions and difficult questions that lead us to completely fail to find a negotiated solution to the conflict. Let’s immediately start doing the things that we can do towards building peace. The alternative is a path towards eternal confrontation and war.
The ball is in the court of Armenia. Let’s see which path they will choose.