YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)—Noyan Tapan news agency recently interviewed Armenia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shavarsh Kocharyan, in which the minister spoke about Azerbaijan and the Karabakh negotiations.
NOYAN TAPAN: How would you comment on the statements from the president of Azerbaijan at a military parade in which he claimed that Armenia is afraid of Azerbaijan’s military expenditure?
SHAVARSH KOCHARYAN: This neurotic proclamation, which is an attempt to present a pipe dream as reality, is just another failed attempt by the Azerbaijani government to hide its own fear and panic over the inescapable prospect of losing its authoritarian grip as a result of growing discontent in the country. Continuous publications about exaggerated military expenses and glorifications of the military on a daily basis, especially while close to presidential elections, are intended to distract domestic public attention from the huge wealth of the ruling family of Azerbaijan, which has been obtained by the unsparing plundering of the state and population.
N.T.: How do you assess the statements from Baku that Karabakh and Armenia are located on Azerbaijani territories and that Armenians are newcomers in the region?
S.K.: The fact that it has been less than one hundred years that a country named Azerbaijan appeared on the world map renders it funny that Azerbaijan would deny references from historians as far back as the likes of Strabo, Plutarch and many others. On the other hand, the official historiography of Turkey accepts that Turks came to our region from Central Asia. The leadership of Azerbaijan, which describes its relations with Turkey with the phrase “one nation, two states,” in fact admits that the nation, which got the name “Azerbaijani” only in the 1930’s, is a newcomer nation in this region. There is nothing insulting about that and one shouldn’t be ashamed of it. But it is shameful to cut a people off from their roots and falsify their history.
Such ridiculous statements from Baku only prove that both foreign and internal politics in Azerbaijan are totally based on lies and falsification. Azerbaijani propaganda even tries to attribute massacres organized by themselves in Khojali to Armenians. It seems to Baku that the Azerbaijani leadership can avoid responsibility for the cruel mass killings of Armenians in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad and other places in Azerbaijan simply by using falsified propaganda on the Khojali tragedy.
The president of Azerbaijan declares that Armenians are their number one enemy. In truth, the main enemy of Azerbaijan is its government. For Azerbaijan’s hereditary regime, the words “Armenian” and “the truth” have become synonymous. Any criticism by international organizations and individuals about the rampant corruption and pervasive violations of basic human rights in the country are considered a result of the activities of Armenians and pro-Armenian groups.
N.T.: You mentioned Turkey, which supports Azerbaijan’s position in the Karabakh issue and denies the Armenian Genocide. How do you assess the possibility of normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations from this perspective?
S.K.: Turkey is not consistent in its foreign policy. In defiance of the letter and the spirit of the Armenian-Turkish protocols signed in Zurich, Ankara supports the unrealistic intentions of Azerbaijan and contributes to Baku’s rigid, narrow-minded position, creating obstacles for both the progress of the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation process and for the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. In contrast, Armenia is consistent in all directions of its foreign policy. We have been and are supporters of unconditional normalization of relations with Turkey. So the ball is in Turkey’s court.
N.T.: Recently, meetings with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have become more frequent and after every meeting, Azerbaijan declares that the conflict must be resolved in the scope of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. To what extent do those announcements reflect the negotiations process?
S.K.: First of all, the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has nothing to do with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. As for the negotiations with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group, Azerbaijan has accepted the Madrid documents as a basis for negotiations. The principles and elements of the Madrid documents, which were made public by the heads of the OSCE Minsk Group, should be considered as an integrated whole and no element should be emphasized over another. This was reaffirmed in the joint statement given by the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries on June 18, 2013.
Azerbaijan, in contradiction with the UN charter, the principles and elements of the Madrid documents, and the negotiation process, tries to attach prevalence to the principle of territorial integrity, totally ignoring the other principles that it has accepted, which dictate that the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh should be determined through a legally binding expression of will.
The attempts of Azerbaijan to present the negotiations process in a distorted and selective way, to falsely present the essence of the issues and the reasons of the conflict, to diminish the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group, and to obstruct the progress of the negotiations process are useless. Despite the desperate efforts of Azerbaijan, the conflict will be resolved in the framework of the right to self-determination for the people of Artsakh and in the framework of responsibility for the consequences of Azerbaijani aggression against self-determined Artsakh.