BAKU: Opinions on 10 years of Azerbaijan, Armenia cease-fire – paper

Opinions on 10 years of Azerbaijan, Armenia cease-fire – paper

Ayna, Baku
12 May 04

The fighting on the Azerbaijani and Armenian contact line was suspended
on 12 May 1994. Prior to this day, the Bishkek protocol was signed
in Kyrgyz capital between Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Azerbaijani
and Armenian communities of Nagornyy Karabakh.

[Passage omitted: war figures]

We wonder, how did Azerbaijan benefit from the 10-year truce period?
Respondents’ answers to this question vary.

An employee of the Defence Ministry press service, Capt Ilqar Verdiyev,
believes that over this 10-year period, the Azerbaijani army has
been transferred into a perfect body commanded from a single centre
and brought into compliance with the NATO standards: “Our country
has been participating actively in the NATO’s Partnership for Peace
programme since 1996. Our military education system has been brought
into compliance with the NATO standards. We have taken advantage of
the cease-fire period sufficiently. At present Azerbaijani army is
capable of liberating the occupied territories.”

But Lt-Col Uzeyir Cafarov, independent military journalist, said that
had that period been used properly, the Azerbaijani army should have
been stronger than it is now: “True, a number of military reforms
have been accomplished, but we should also look at the enemy on the
opposite side. That army resorted to illegal means to arm itself. The
leadership of the Azerbaijani army does not pay much attention to
procurement of weapons and ammunition. Actually, we should have
become the leader among the South Caucasus countries over the past
period. Regrettably, this is not the case.”

Zardust Alizada, independent pundit, branded the cease-fire years as a
“lost time”. “Enforcing a cease-fire regime in 1994 was very important
as we needed to win time to create an army, adjust our affairs and
liberate the occupied lands. Unlike many other opposition members, I
hailed the truce at that point. But I was wrong. It turned out that
the government benefited from the cease-fire regime to strengthen
its position. I consider that the 10-year is a lost period and the
policy pursued over this time is equal to national treason.

The deputy executive secretary of the [ruling] New Azerbaijan Party,
MP Bahar Muradova, is optimistic. She says that the classification of
the cease-fire period as “lost years” is wide of the mark: “Although
we have not reached a peaceful solution to the Karabakh problem over
the cease-fire period, we managed to prepare appropriate grounds for
it. First, Azerbaijan has achieved political and economic successes,
the mighty army able to liberate the occupied lands has been created.”

[Passage omitted: Predictions on the outcome of the conflict are

The former head of the presidential secretariat, Eldar Namazov,
does not consider the reforms, implemented in Azerbaijan during the
cease-fire period, efficient: “This includes both the policy for
Karabakh settlement and the development of the country. Azerbaijan
could have been the leading country in the South Caucasus over these
10 years. Despite our sufficient potential, ineffective reforms did
not lead us towards these targets.”

[Passage omitted: other similar opinions]