BY JIRAIR TUTUNJIAN
August 31, 2012 was a day of mass celebration in Baku. National hero Ramil Safarov had triumphantly returned home. Why national hero? He had murdered, in Budapest in Feb. 2004, an Armenian officer (Gurgen Margaryan) while the latter was asleep. They were in Hungary for a NATO English-language training course. Safarov had struck the Armenian with an axe—hitting the torso 10 times and the head 16 times. Why? Because Margaryan was Armenian. Sentenced to life, Safarov was released by Hungary to serve his full term in Azeri jail. The day Safarov arrived in Baku; he was pardoned by President Aliyev. He was also promoted to lieutenant colonel, given an apartment, and eight-years of back pay.
Murderer-honoring Azerbaijan promises peace if Armenians hand Nagorno-Karabakh (N.K.) and seven small Azeri territories to Baku. The promise was made again a few days after April 24 by Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan’s foreign minister.
Parsing extracts from Mammadyarov’s interview with Minval.az.
1. “States must respect each other’s territorial integrity within their internationally recognized borders. There is no other formula …”
A. There is another formula. Armenians took N.K. and the seven Azeri regions as a result of the Azeri invasion of Armenian-majority N.K. Armenians won the war. N.K. can’t be given to Azerbaijan because it’s Armenian territory that was illegally given, along with Nakhichevan, to Azerbaijan by the Kremlin in the early ‘20s to show to Turkey (Azerbaijan’s elder brother) USSR’s good intentions towards Ankara.
B. When Azerbaijan was handed N.K., the territory was more than 90% Armenian while the Azeris and other minorities were 10%. In 1989, when N.K. declared independence, Armenians were 77% while Azeris 22%. The demographic change was achieved by Baku’s campaign to make Azeris majority in N.K. They failed in N.K. but were successful in Nakhichevan where in 1926 Armenians were 26% of the population. In 1989 there were 17 Armenians left. Oppression was the reason Armenians left. Talking about international laws…
C. The seven Azeri regions occupied by Armenians were taken in a war started by Baku. Armenians are willing to return some but it would be suicidal to return land which would make Armenians vulnerable to Azeri attack. How can Armenians trust a government which claims Armenia is West Azerbaijan?
D. There are 60 disputed territories in Asia, 29 in Africa, 19 in Europe, 8 each in North America and in Central America/the Caribbean, and 9 in South America. The six small territories Baku wants are iota compared to many others around the globe. As well, Azerbaijan’s paramour Israel is the world’s leading occupier of disputed territories.
E. Mammadyarov says the concept of “territorial integrity” justifies Azerbaijan’s claim to N.K. He doesn’t talk about the similarly valid concept: the right to self-determination. Yugoslavia broke into half-a-dozen states because the ethnic groups which comprised the country wanted to have their own states. Azerbaijan recognizes the ex-Yugoslav states established because of the validity of the concept of self-determination. What’s good for the gander is good for the goose.
2. “30,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed during the war, while one-million people were displaced,” said Mammadyarov
A. The Armenians of N.K. declared independence through democratic means and according to Soviet law. In response, Azerbaijan sent troops to N.K. and launched pogroms of Armenians living in Azerbaijan. Armenians were killed, wounded, raped, and driven from their homes in five cities. When Azeri pogroms forced Armenians to flee Azerbaijan Azeris living in Armenia were urged/pushed to leave. Mammadyarov inflates the number of Azeri refugees and casualties.
3. “The elements of phased settlement include the liberation of the occupied territories around N.K, the return of Azerbaijanis expelled from these territories and the opening of communication between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” said Mammadyarov.
A. If Armenians returned to Azeri oppression and Azeris returned to N.K. and to Armenia, what would be left for Armenia and Azerbaijan to discuss? Perhaps the handover of Gapan to Baku so that Azerbaijan can be contiguous to Turkey? How about agreeing that Armenia is West Azerbaijan, as Mammadyarov’s boss says.
4. Eight times Mammadyarov dragged “international” (“internationally recognized boundaries, etc.) into the interview to back Baku’s claims.
A. He neglected to consider it was illegal for the Kremlin to give Armenian N.K. to Azerbaijan.
B. Mammadyarov didn’t remember the countless indignities Armenians suffered in N.K. and in Azerbaijan during 70 years of Azeri “rule.” International law condemns such oppression.
C. Mammadyarov forgets how his government and people hailed the axe murderer of an innocent young man as a national hero. Perhaps international law doesn’t condemn governments which reward murderers.
D. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (2020) recommended that Azerbaijan be added to the State Department’s Special Watch-list for severe violation of religious liberty. Mammadyarov must think Armenians, who suffered pogroms, would be eager to return to the land of gavoor killers. Perhaps they would ignore the shattering of 2,000 medieval Armenian khachkars by Azeri troops in Nakhichevan. What does international law say about that?
E. The Royce-Engel peace proposal, a bipartisan U.S congressional initiative to deploy international monitors and add international observers along the line of contact was blocked by Azerbaijan perhaps because it would have provided transparency and accountability to it ceasefire violations.
5. “…it would be better… to prepare their [Armenians] own people for peace…”
A. Mammadyarov must think Armenians are robots who can be persuaded by Big Brother gimmicks to change their minds about an existential issue. Mammadyarov must think Yerevan is Baku.
B. Mammadyarov chooses to misunderstand the conflict: it’s the Armenian people who, as much as their government, believe in the justice of their cause. A government which contemplates ceding land to Azerbaijan would be turfed before sunset.
C. After 30 years of intense racist propaganda amongst its people, how can Baku expect to make 9 million Azeris like Armenians?
6. “…a war broke out between the two countries as Armenia launched a full-fledged military campaign against Azerbaijan…” and “the so-called pretext for the military intervention was illegal claims to the Azerbaijan region where PARTIAL Armenian population was living next to the indigenous Azerbaijanis.”
A. Count the lies.
P.S. Mammadyarov loses a degree of credibility due to how he expresses himself.
a. Unaware of the redundancy, he says, “I personally believe…” He talks about “bloody war” as if there is another kind. He says “actively seeking” as opposed to “inactively seeking”? “Completely groundless” and “actively involved” are other infelicities of verbiage.