NEW YORK—ANCA Eastern Region executive director Garo Manjikian confronted the Azerbaijan deputy foreign minister, Araz Azimov, last week on the Aliyev government’s track record of war-mongering and aggression towards the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, at an event hosted by the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN and the Harriman Institute of Columbia University.
Following intense criticism from attendees on Azerbaijan’s human rights record and crackdown on pro-democracy institutions, the organizers limited questions to three, cutting short discourse on a wide range of audience concerns.
Manjikian asked the second question of the evening: “It is very obvious the Azeri government is working hard to portray itself as a stable, reliable, and peaceful country in the Caucasus, while at the same time having an extensive track record of aggression and war-mongering towards Nagorno-Karabakh.” Manjikian then cited three specific statements that President Aliyev had made in the past two years with direct threats to take Karabakh by force.
Manjikian continued, “How do you reconcile these two points and can you, right now, state on behalf of the Azerbaijani government that it will not continue or renew any kind of war or threats to use force against Nagorno-Karabakh?”
Azimov responded by arguing that Manjikian’s citations did not qualify as war-mongering, but were statements regarding Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Azimov then accused Armenia of war-mongering, arguing that any statements made about the self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh is an attack on Azerbaijan. He added that statements coming from Azerbaijan are just a reaction to Armenia, and that there can only be self-rule of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan.
The event also featured questions by Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, from the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations, who expressed hope that the recent rapprochement between Armenia and Turkey would spark positive developments between Armenia and Azerbaijan to settle the Karabakh conflict.
Azimov described Azerbaijan as a model nation in almost all regards, including human rights and democracy. The country was also touted by its ambassadors as the answer to Europe’s need to diversify its energy resources and routes.
The more disturbing comments during his speech included the following points:
It is the Turkey-Azerbaijani relationship which has created progress in the Caucasus and will shape the future of the region.
There can’t be balance in the region with Armenia-Turkey relations and Turkey-Azeri relations taking place at the same time. Turkey should not risk this balance and challenge Aliyev.
Armenia’s foreign policy is not compatible with Azerbaijan’s foreign policy.
The recent Armenian-Turkish protocols call for recognition of borders including Azerbaijan.
Armenia must get rid of its outrageous policies towards its neighbors.