The outcomes of the talks between the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers in Paris have received widespread media attention recently. Politicians, representatives of international organizations, experts and analysts are assessing the Paris meeting. What attracts their attention is that the ministers gave a hint of the idea of preparing societies for peace. It was confirmed by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement. But the Armenian media reports distort the reality. They try to describe the idea of “preparation for peace” in their own interest. And the issue will be the focus of this article.
From conflict to reconciliation: for justice and reality
Every war ends in peace. Conflicts should also end up in reconciliation. For decades, efforts to explain this to Armenians have been unsuccessful. They cannot help imagining that the temporary advantage gained by their patrons on the battlefield is their “eternal victory”. They unashamedly speak of the “heroism” of the Armenian army and people in the April battles. The Armenian leaders who “swallow their tongues” (Alexander Lukashenko’s quote) when they see Vladimir Putin, are talking about sovereignty, an independent army and foreign policy. This trend has grown intensely since the meeting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers in Paris on January 16. But why?
The analysis of the Armenian media reports reveals that the main reason behind this hysteria is that some signs of hope of settlement of the dispute may emerge. Naturally, concrete resolution of the conflict or any serious step toward it is still out of question. According to the statement released by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the talks were positive and the parties decided to continue negotiations to address certain problems. The statement said: “During the talks between the parties, which lasted more than 4 hours, a useful and very positive exchange of views, including the significance of building more understanding and trust, took place. The parties agreed on continuation of the consistent and result-oriented negotiations next month.” “During the talks, the sides discussed a number of issues, including the ways to prepare the population of both sides for peace, security and sustainable regional development,” the statement said.
Armenia`s Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a similar statement. However, there is media hysteria surrounding the issue. First of all, it should be noted that the UN Security Council Secretary General welcomed the talks as positive. The European Union said it looked forward to full implementation of the outcomes of the talks. The negotiations were held within the OSCE Minsk Group format, and the co-chairs naturally also commented on the talks. They expressed their appreciation for the ongoing efforts of the sides to maintain an environment conducive to intensive results-oriented negotiations. The co-chairs also underlined the importance of possible mutually beneficial initiatives designed to fulfill the economic potential of the region.
We (Newtimes.az) do not claim that Armenia is ready to take any concrete step towards resolution of the conflict. The point is that people just started talking about the possibilities of conflict resolution, but Armenians already experience anxiety. Their only response is that “Armenia should not liberate the occupied lands. Azerbaijan should accept war as the last reality and recognize the puppet Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, that Armenia`s pull out from any occupied land is Armenia`s defeat and the Armenian nation`s embarrassment (see: Сергей Шакарянц. Армения-Азербайджан. Что такое “подготовка населения к миру”? / “Regnum”, January 22, 2019). Others recommend looking at preparation for peace in the context of relations between global superpowers, claiming that Iran and Russia seek to keep the status quo, while other superpowers try to change it (see: Акоп Бадалян. Кто пытается изменить статус-кво в Арцахе: заблуждение или искажение / “Lragir”, January 18, 2019).
A biased approach: the aggressor`s old character traits
Such a primitive and biased assessment shows that the political community and experts in Armenia are totally unprepared for just settlement of the conflict. They are exploiting the Armenian nation’s name to manipulate. Ordinary Armenians knew that Armenia occupied Azerbaijan’s lands and that this would sooner or later lead up to grave consequences. Now the time has come. Neither Armenia established itself as a state, nor do its citizens live a normal life. Demographic, economic, social and psychological problems have engulfed the Armenian people. Armenia has been isolated from all regional cooperation projects. The country isn’t even held in respect within the Eurasian Economic Union, of which it is a member.
Armenia hasn’t put forward any effective project so far. And it will not unless the country quits its policy. But how can Armenia survive? A clear and accurate way out of this situation was articulated by the President of Azerbaijan (Ilham Aliyev), who is repeatedly giving his messages. Armenia must unambiguously withdraw from Azerbaijan’s occupied lands. Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity must be restored. Not an inch of Azerbaijani soil must remain occupied. The Azerbaijani refugees who were expelled from their native lands must return home. Only in this case may Armenia’s isolation end.
Even ordinary people realize this. If there is someone within the Armenian leadership who understands this, the Armenian society then should feel happy. Similarly, if the Armenian side tried to take a relatively constructive position during the talks in Paris, it is Armenians who should rejoice. The Armenian media’s reaction to that event is yet another sign for the world community, in particular the Minsk Group co-chairs. The Armenian political leaders openly demonstrate their disinterest in the conflict resolution. They continue to mislead the international community. On the one hand, they talk about preparations for peace, while on the other, they show the society’s reaction to this. The reason is that unlike other nations, Armenians understand the word “peace” differently. For them peace is that Azerbaijan must reconcile itself to the occupation of its lands and agree to have a second Armenian state on its soil. To the Armenian separatist thinking, there is no peace beyond this.
Otherwise, some Armenian experts wouldn’t have mocked Azerbaijan`s consent to grant an extended autonomy. They think that the only option for Armenians is recognition of the illegal “NKR” as an independent state. It is why international organizations, society and especially the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs should prepare Armenian politicians, experts and radicals for peace and explain to them that if the Armenian armed forces do not pull out from the occupied lands, Armenia will come to a bad end.
As regards the Azerbaijani society, there is no need to prepare it for peace because Azerbaijanis always stood for peace and cherished values of tolerance. Nobody ever faced radicalism or intolerance in Azerbaijan. Those who anticipate that “preparation for peace” will lead up to Azerbaijan’s losing its territorial integrity make a great mistake. This will never happen because it is injustice, because it is a betrayal of independence. The Azerbaijani state and society do not lay claims to others’ lands, and can teach others peace lessons. But patience has its limits. If the aggressor does not withdraw from the occupied lands, Armenians will be forced to peace. It is a well-known fact.