Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Excluding Azerbaijan Can't Bring Stability To The South Caucasus

Azerbaijani football fans at the Turkey-Armenia World Cup qualifying match in Bursa in October 2009Azerbaijani football fans at the Turkey-Armenia World Cup qualifying match in Bursa in October 2009
Azerbaijani football fans at the Turkey-Armenia World Cup qualifying match in Bursa in October 2009
Azerbaijani football fans at the Turkey-Armenia World Cup qualifying match in Bursa in October 2009
By Novruz Mammadov
The United States has recently stepped up efforts to repair relations between Turkey and Armenia. Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 in response to the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding Azerbaijani territories by Armenian forces. Lately, U.S. officials have been urging Turkey to ignore Armenia's continuing occupation and reopen the border. While Washington says that its aim is to improve stability and development throughout the region, in reality U.S. policies have become increasingly pro-Armenian -- and exclusive of Azerbaijan.

Washington believes that a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement could kill two birds with one stone. First, it might smooth over -- at least temporarily -- one of the major trouble spots in U.S.-Turkish relations: the issue of Armenian genocide claims. Second, some U.S. officials argue that improving ties between Armenia and Turkey will ultimately contribute to a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They appear to believe improved relations will lead to a moderation of Armenian policies and open the way to new initiatives on Karabakh.

However, we must disagree. Armenia continues to occupy almost 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory. It is ironic that while claiming to be the first victim of genocide in the 20th century, Armenia itself carried out one of the century's major ethnic-cleansing campaigns in Europe -- a campaign that resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of nearly 1 million Azerbaijanis. Many members of the Armenian political elite -- including President Serzh Sarkisian -- rose through the ranks because of their personal involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. They have used the war as a pretext for strengthening their own hold over Armenian politics, so it is not surprising that they have not been constructive in settlement talks.

Pretext For Occupation

Azerbaijan has proposed granting the highest form of autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh and is prepared to invest heavily in the region's development once a peace deal is reached. Baku has been cooperating closely with the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to resolve the conflict peacefully.

However, Armenia remains intransient, and this creates the suspicion that Yerevan wants to keep the conflict unresolved as an excuse for indefinite occupation.

In this context, Armenia's closed borders are the main form of leverage that might compel Yerevan to engage seriously in the resolution of the conflict. There is no reason to believe that opening the borders will make Armenia more willing to compromise; on the contrary, removing this sole punishment will only increase Armenia's interest in further entrenching the status quo.

We understand that Armenia has a powerful diaspora and that justice does not necessarily always prevail. Over the last 15 years, despite maintaining the occupation of part of a neighboring country, Armenia has received preferential treatment from the West, which has actually punished Azerbaijan. The infamous Section 907 of the U.S. Freedom Support Act, which banned direct U.S. aid to Azerbaijan, is a clear example of this. Western governments and media have largely been silent on the plight of the nearly 1 million Azerbaijanis who were displaced by Armenian aggression. This has naturally led the Azerbaijani public to think that the West's talk of democracy and human rights is nothing more than a selectively applied method of promoting its own interests.

In Defense Of Justice

It is high time for the United States and Europe to adopt a fair position and to prevent the narrow interests of their Armenian lobbies from prevailing over justice and their own national interests.

In any event, attempts to pressure Ankara to abandon Azerbaijan are shortsighted and likely to backfire. Azerbaijan and Turkey are strategic allies with deep historical ties. Turkey has played an important role in Azerbaijan's partnership with the West on key security and energy projects. Azerbaijan spearheaded the opening of Caspian energy resources to the West and insisted that major oil and gas pipelines be routed through Georgia and Turkey.

Baku has also wholeheartedly supported U.S. security initiatives by sending troops to Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Azerbaijan also provides supply-transit support for the NATO effort in Afghanistan. Those who know the region understand the significant risks Azerbaijan took and the pressure it overcame in order to pursue close cooperation with the West on energy and security issues.

Long-term peace and normalization of relations in the South Caucasus cannot be achieved by rewarding aggression and by excluding the region's strategically most important country. By pushing Turkey to abandon Azerbaijan, the United States risks alienating one of its most important and reliable partners in a critical region of the world.

Novruz Mammadov is head of the Foreign Relations Department of the presidential administration of Azerbaijan. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL
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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
April 21, 2010 13:46
There is nothing European about Armenia or Azerbaijan. They are both completely Middle Eastern. Just because they are not using Arabic script to write their languages, it does not mean they are European. Artificial inclusion of these former Soviet republics within the former European Soviet Union is not a correct historical justification for their “Europeaness”.
International community should stop selling arms to both republics and they should both be bluntly told that they must fetch for themselves. Azerbaijanis should also come to grips with the reality that Negorno Kharabakh has gone forever. It will never be part of Azerbaijan again. In another words, making a fuss about a worthless scrap of land that does not have hydro carbon and mineral resources is a complete waste of time. Both republics should focus on job creation and prosperity for their peoples instead of being at each other’s throats all the time!
North Americans, Europeans, Asians, and African are tired of hearing it. Both republics must grow up and stop being petulant and peevish like children!
In Response

by: Dave from: Salem
April 21, 2010 19:01
This is solely a European issue and it should be dealt by Europeans only!
In Response

by: J from: US
April 22, 2010 01:25
Not true. They are more European than Bosnia or North Eastern Greece. Or some suburbs Paris for that matter! You can visit see for yourself.
In Response

by: Hamik C Gregory from: Reno, NV USA
April 25, 2010 17:21
Before Golestan (1830) and Torkamanchay (1828)Treatis were imposed on Iranians by Imperial Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were part of the Ghajar Persia of the early nineteenth century.
Circassian autonomous republics located north of the Caucasian Mountains but south of the European Russian Federation are geographical anomalies. I hope no one in this forum thinks that the Chechens are European.
If Yerevan and Baku focus on anti Azeri, and anti Armenian propaganda, they will be exactly in parallel with Arab governments in the Middle East who have decided to give their people the Arab Israeli conflict instead of prosperity. The Arab street is so preoccupied with the former British Palestine that they don’t even have time to question were billions of dollars in oil revenues go! No wonder they live in poverty!
It’s not fair for Armenia and Azerbaoijan to spend billions of dollars on weapons when their people are poor. One way to end this cycle of rampant poverty in both republics is for Azerbaijanis to seriously think about the future without Negorno Gharabagh. She is gone. She will never be part of Azerbaijan again! Baku must be told this decisively and bluntly.What is the point of endless-meaningless negotiations that go round about in circles and produce no results?
Azeris! Don’t count on Turkish support. Opening the Armeno Turkish border and establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia wil bring Turkey international recognition and prestige. It will also open the EU door. Supporting the Baku cause will bring Turkey absolutely nothing. Ankara knows it! Eventually, they will consider you a nuisance and ignore your overbearing demands!
In Response

by: Alex DeLarge from: Clockwork
April 22, 2010 23:29
a bit much coming from a mug in Reno. The coolest place in the states. hahaha
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by: J from: US
April 26, 2010 23:54
Of course Chechens are European and so are Ossetians. I don't mean they shuold necessarily join the Eurozone but they are as European as say Bosnians are.

by: Nixar Osman from: Turkey
April 21, 2010 13:47
I congratulate Mr Mammatov for his well balanced and fairly argued presentation of thew situation that Western world do not seem to pay attention to.

Politics of the world and its realities are changing, most significantly emerging countries are beginning to play a more important role in both regional and international politics. Turkey is one such country.

The popularity of the US is decreasing in Turkey by the day mainly due to preferential and short term based importance it attaches to some minority groups. I found that the Turks are very fair minded people and they are not willing to sucrifice their Azeri brothers any gain whatsoever.

The western leaders will be well advised to pay close attention to the important points highlighted in this article. Its heading says it all.
In Response

by: James from: CA, USA
April 22, 2010 16:34
SHAME on this publication for allowing such vitriolic drivel to be published. A lack of unbiased reporting is turning this "news" source into a propoganda mouthpiece for the Kingdom of Azerbaijan--the only nation in the world that is called "democratic" while its "president" receives over 90% of the "vote" in their "elections". And the world tolerates this Muslim mini-caliphate because they have oil. SHAME SHAME SHAME.

by: Koba from: Washington, DC
April 21, 2010 13:58
Excellent articulation of all key points.
Unfortunately, the Caucasus region is at the very bottom of the Obama's to-do list.

by: AS from: Houston
April 21, 2010 14:53
I can't believe RFE/RL would permit such a one-sided commentary.

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Turkish Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The date of the onset of the genocide is conventionally held to be April 24, 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, depriving them of food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria.

To date, twenty countries and 44 U.S. states have officially recognized the events of the period as genocide, and most genocide scholars and historians accept this view. The Armenian Genocide has been also recognized by influential media including The New York Times, BBC, The Washington Post and The Associated Press.

The Armenian Genocide is recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.
In Response

by: Bedir Memmedli from: Washington DC
April 23, 2010 12:13
Armenian "genocide" is nothing but a complete lie and distortation aimed at holding all turks responsible for what that resulted from tragic events caused by World War I. If you want to see true genocide, just come to Van (Turkey) and Quba (Azerbaijan) and see mass graves of innocent civilians brutally massacred by Armenians.
In Response

by: Alex Mikoyan from: Seattle
April 24, 2010 02:08
Why? So I can see "enlightening" exhibitions propped-up by an insecure, egomaniacal country (Turkey), and a war-mongering, kleptomaniacal dictatorship (Azerbaijan)? No thanks.

Why don't you go to Syria, to Deir-el-Zor, and see the mass graves there? Or is too much of a hassle for you to look beyond the media of your oil-soaked, money laundering dicta--oh, I mean "president".

By the way, Turkey is occupying 37% of Cyprus' territory, and has 30,000+ soldiers stationed there. Oh, and did you forget the 150,000 colonists they brought along with them?


by: Vilen from: USA
April 21, 2010 15:28
This article clearly does not reflect the reality. The reality is that for 70 years Azerbaijan was implementing a policy of racial discrimination with the only goal of driving out the Armenian population of Artsakh. They partially succeeded. When Karabakh was incorporated into Soviet Azerbaijan by Stalin, the Armenian population of Arsakh was 94%. By the time Karabakh was liberated, Armenians comprised of only 74% of the total population. However Azeries were very successful in driving out the entire population of Nakhichevan, another ancient Armenian city. Now there are zero Armenians living in Nakhichevan.
In Response

by: Basakechar from: Vardenis
April 21, 2010 22:24
And there are zero Azerbaijanis in Armenia, a land where only a century ago 47% of population was Azeris. Azeris also constitued majority in Irevan, nowadays capital of Armenia.

In the Caucasus, historically multi-ethnic area, Armenia is the only country that is mono-ethnic, i.e. 99.9% of population are Armenians.

So much about statistics and demographics
In Response

by: Anonymous
April 23, 2010 03:51
A century ago, there was no such thing as an Azeri nation in the Caucasus. Go back a few decades and "Irevan" (its tru and historical name, Erevan, based on Urartian Erebuni) and Nakhichevan were mostly populated by Armenians until Shah Abbas relocated them to a quarter later to be called New Julfa (since most of its inhabitants came from Julfa in Nakhichevan). Turkic tribes settled and multiplied in the region afterward. There is nothing Azeri or Turkish about Armenia, Yerevan, or Karabakh. Mosques were built by Persians, not nomadic Turks who just let go of their nomadism in the past few centuries.
In Response

by: SM
April 24, 2010 11:38
It is mostly true. But all them are half truth.

It is true what you say about Shah Abbas' settlement of Armenians. But Shah Abbas deported all people, not only Armenians as a part of scorched earth strategy.

It is also true what you say about the naming of the nation. Azerbaijanis were indeed not called "Azerbaijani" at that time. This definition was invented by Stalin in 1936 as a replacement of 'Turk'. He had his concerns and calculations. But it is different topic.

But we talk about a 'underdeveloped' and 'nomadic' people that lived in the territory of modern Armenia, at times constutued ethnic majority there, whose names were imported by most Armenians (Demirchi-yan, Allahverdi-yan, Kotanji-yan, Ekmekji-yan ......), whose language was the 'lingua franca' in the South Caucasus from the sixteenth century to the early twentieth century, whose language was the main poetry language for Armenian poets like Sayat Nova, Ashik Avetis...

So, you are right. If a nation is called differently over time, you can deport them. Azeris should name Armenians differently if they wany to get rid off them in Karabakh. WIth that logic it will be o.k. to force them leave Karabakh in case there is a war. By the way Armenians call themselves "Hay". Azeris should think about it.
In Response

by: El from: London
April 23, 2010 16:44
What are you talking about man? It looks like that you know the history of this region better than themselves? What's a point of talking what was 100 and 1000 years ago? The reality is that Official Internationally recognized on all world maps Azerbaijan territory is 20% occupied by Armenians... never mind Nagornij Karabakh, why nobody is talking about this occupation and everyone supports Armenia? It drive's me crazy...

by: JohnMcKay from: Edinburg
April 21, 2010 17:43
It would be prudent of any journalistic medium to verify claims no matter who utters them. One of the most persistent lies thrown out by the Azeris is that Armenians have occupied 20% of Azerbaijan. Even if we were to assume that the lands the Armenians liberated really did belong to Azerbaijan, it would behoove one to verify the facts.

The math is pretty easy..

"Artsakh controls roughly 12,136 square kilometers, in other words, just over 14% of the territory of the former Azerbaijani SSR. "


By not validating or challenging claims, RFERL is just a mouthpiece for propagandists.

by: Chris from: USA
April 21, 2010 19:08
The post held by the author within the Azerbaijani administration makes it abundantly clear that he can not possibly be even close to any objective & historically based assessment of the reality. I mean there is a systematic, well financed Azerbaijani campaign on the world stage to manufacture history & use Goebell type lies & exagerations for the purpose of pushing forward the Azeri/Turkish version of the history which has to, by necessity, cover up all their crimes against the Armenian nation.
When Mr. Mammadov says to the West's ears that Azerbaijan will give the highest form of autonomy to Karabakh, he must be pulling a disgusting joke by attemting to insult the intelligence of any person with half a brain familiar with the region's history. By considering just the fact that the Karabakh war was barberically started by Azerbaijan, their 70 years of behaviour during the Soviet times poised at forcing the Armenian population from Karabakh & the atrocities in Nakhijevan that resulted in entirely erasing of any Armenian historical presence in that region only 7 years ago should testify to the fact that Mammadov's utterings are infact nothing other than a shameless and deliberate attempt to insult and manipulate minds.
" The Nagorno- Karabakh Republic was never a part of independent Azerbaijan"- Serzh Sargsyan, Chatham House- London
In Response

by: Quandt from: Virtual world
April 24, 2010 20:59

It is a tricky word. If you think the continuing occupation with deployment of dozens of thousands of troops scattered along the fortification lines is a reality that everyone should accept, then Azeris think that their continuously increasing over-might, their skyrocketing finance sources, military build-up with all their deficiencies, the accumulating internal pressure from refugees for a quick military solution, Armenia's declining economics and demographics with all due 'respect' for 'bravery' of the Armenian military is also a reality.

Armenians love it when they compare themselves with Israel. But the fact is that Armenia is not Israel, Turks are not Arabs, and the Caucasus is not the Eastern Mediterranean.

by: Hamad from: Jerusalem
April 21, 2010 19:34
Another cheap "analysis" from RFERL. They seem not to worry about the reputation. Throw garbage here and there.

by: DS from: USA
April 21, 2010 19:50
Having lived in the regions of Azerbaijan for 2 years and teaching Azerbaijani youth to come to RFE/RL as a way to read unbiased news I'm disappointed to see this article. This is something I would expect to read on Today.az, Trend News Agency, APA, or some other arm of the New Azerbaijan Party.

Note to AS from Houston No one really cares about who's Claimed Genocide was first or worse. When you start reading off the same kool-aid drinking propaganda only form the other side no one wants to hear that either.

RFE/RL Please stick with informative pieces explaining the situation but leave out the equally ridiculous contrived claims.
In Response

by: raf
April 21, 2010 21:17
"No one really cares about who's Claimed Genocide was first or worse."
I care and I am sure most Armenians of NK care, because we are talking about my and their history and pain, if the perpetrators of what you call "ridiculous contrived claims" have been punished 95 years ago, it would have been much easier to find a solution to the existing problems in the region now.

by: raf
April 21, 2010 20:47
Azerbaijan had more than 15 years to prove that it is a trustworthy state where Armenians of NK can live peacefully. In contrast, the Azerbaijani government has done its best to prove the oppisite, Armenians are perceived as evil creatures by most Azerbaijanis and I am afraid if someday a meteor hits Baku they will blame Armenians for it, how can Armenians trust a country where the ombudsman publicly praises the barbaric act done by Ramil Saforav, the Azerbaijani officer who killed Armenain lieutenant Margaryan by axe while asleep in Hungary? How can Armenians of Artsakh agree to live as part of a state which prides itself of publishing Armenian Genocide denail books "to expose Armenian lies"?
In Response

by: az
April 23, 2010 03:56
Azerbaijanis like to pretend that Armenians were well treated in Azerbaijan. They like to say that Armenians weren't and aren't suppressed at all, that they are democratic.

Yet last year, the Azerbaijani national security called for questioning a handful of Azerbaijani Turks who voted for Armenia in Eurovision. If Azerbaijanis who vote for Armenia in Eurovision are called for questioning, then I don't want to know the fate of Armenians who openly say they are proud Armenians is. If I know the Turkish character well, they will accept Armenians as long as they are ashamed of being Armenian, and I doubt Azerbaijanis are even one notch above that.
In Response

by: arm
May 13, 2010 07:50
There are 30.000 ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan, they work in all the ministeries in Azerbaijan (except secret service). These Armenians have been in Azerbaijan for more then 20 years now, can Armenia say the same? No, there are no Azeris and no Turks either in Armenia today. I think this simply fact shows very well that the reality is.
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