BAKU: Situation Is Tense In Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenians Not Want To


July 29 2009

Azerbaijan’s permanent representative to the Council of Europe Arif
Mammadov spoke in an exclusive interview with Day.Az.

Day.Az: The Council of Europe reaction to the post-election events
in Armenia which claimed several lives demonstrated inadequacy of
Strasburg’s attitude to separate member states. Do you see any
political element in this? Can the Council of Europe resort to
sanctions against the Armenian delegation?

Arif Mammadov: Armenians almost faced difficult situation for the
two recent PACE sessions. The Armenian delegation in PACE could be
deprived of a mandate which is an extreme measure. The MPs were quite
tough at the session and demanded Armenia to fulfill commitments.

At the same time, I would not say that here it is a notorious "double
standard." No international organization wants to resort to drastic
measures. Armenia has received a rather harsh warning as a red card,
which it has been getting for quite a long time since the election. It
would be wrong to expect PACE’s deprivation of Armenian delegation
of the mandate especially at a time when the organization is not
experiencing the best of times in its development. Neither the Council
of Europe nor the political factions want to resort to this measure.

There is also factor of lobbying involved here. Armenians did not
sit idly and they understand what this warning means.

In other words, Armenia received a warning, but it is provides an
opportunity to rectify the situation.

Q: Even some member of the Armenian delegation also favor sanctions
against Armenia…

A: Of course, perhaps some would like to see a different situation
including some members of the Armenian delegation. I mean members
of the delegation from the opposition who strongly criticized the
government of their country.

At the last session, Azerbaijani MP Gultakin Hajiyeva signed
(by the way I believe she was right) the document circulated by an
Armenian parliamentarian which rigidly criticized the current Armenian
government. This suggests that there is constant pressure. But again,
the CE does not back extreme measures at least so far. Armenians
are aware that sword of Damocles hangs over them and try to solve
existing problems.

In any case, these problems are indicated in many documents and it
is difficult for Armenia to talk about any democratic transformations.

Q: As to the issue of cooperation between Azerbaijanis and Armenians
within the international organizations, did you encounter cases when
Armenians, whether parliamentarians or diplomats, adequately assessed
the situation in the region and was sympathetic to Baku’s stance on
the Nagorno-Karabakh?

A: I have to many times happened to communicate with MPs and diplomats
from Armenia. I must admit that many of them also realize the need
for the liberation of the occupied territories, because the current
situation does not benefit Armenia at all.

The situation is tense in Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenians do not want
to live there. Sensible people wish stability for themselves and
their children which this is natural. Nagorno-Karabakh is now a dead
zone. Despite some promises, some grants, people are reluctant to go
there, even with financial encouragement from the diaspora. Nobody
wants to put his life in danger. Therefore, the conflict has brought
nothing good to Armenia and adequate politicians and representatives
of the public understand that it is much better to have peace with a
neighbor. The recent mutual visits of intellectuals of both countries
to Baku, Yerevan and Nagorno Karabakh again shows that the Armenian
society understanding the real situation.

There are a lot of people from Azerbaijan in Armenia and they are also
part of society. It lives with nostalgia about the old good-neighborly
relations, which also plays a role. Visits by intellectuals show
that there is an opportunity to address the problem. Of course, this
conflict should be resolved within territorial integrity of Azerbaijan
and Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian origin must understand this. Life
shows that to be within Azerbaijan means is to develop on an equal
footing with other citizens, Azerbaijani society, which, perhaps,
is an example for the entire region.

Q: Azerbaijan has circulated a large number of documents in the PACE
and most of them directly or indirectly relates to the Karabakh
conflict. How effective are these documents? Does the Council of
Europe has a reliable mechanism to implement them?

A: The Council of Europe does not have reliable mechanisms of
pressure on this issue and the organization is not directly involved
in the conflict. It keeps the matter on the agenda. Of course, the
distribution of documents is very important. But it is not worth
to expect much effect from this. Yes, Armenians are nervous because
Azerbaijani MPs are active collecting signatures.

At the same time, I think the CE would be more important in
post-conflict period when there will be a need to restore all links
to work with civil society. During this period, the best weapon to
deal with differences is democratic institutions.

The development of our society allows to believe that the Armenian
community of Karabakh is aware that it is better to live in peace with
its neighbors as it was before when we shared a lot in common. Today,
Azerbaijan has great possibilities and the Armenians could get
huge dividends from the presence in Azerbaijan and could have the
opportunity to develop like Azerbaijani society and state rather to
spend huge money on the armed forces in Karabakh.