Speaking at a press conference dedicated to European security issues, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Azerbaijan is ready to provide guarantees to the Armenians of Artsakh the same rights that other citizens of Azerbaijan have. A few days later, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jeyhun Bairamov, expressed the same sentiment during his meeting with Lavrov in Moscow.
It is to some extent understandable that Bayramov is advancing the interests of his country, on the other hand, the expression of similar ideas by the head of Russian diplomacy, a country that is trying to play an intermediary role in the Southern Caucasus, is puzzling.
The question that many are asking Lavrov is, what rights do the citizens of Azerbaijan have, which the Armenians should also benefit from?
In their annual reports, international human rights organizations accuse Azerbaijan of violating human rights stipulated by international covenants. Reporters Without Borders ranks Azerbaijan 167th out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom. In its 2020 report, the US State Department accused Azerbaijan of widespread human rights violations, including unlawful and arbitrary killings.
As for the minorities living in Azerbaijan, the rights given to them are very limited. A report published in 2019 by the European Council states that the freedoms granted to minorities in Azerbaijan are very limited. Apart from narrow cultural rights, minority communities do not have the liberty to raise issues about their national identity or broadcast television or radio programs in their languages.
These few examples can still be expanded, including the super wealth accumulated by the members of the Aliyev family, and documented by the “Panama files” that generated a lot of international attention a few years ago.
The summary of all these is that Azerbaijan is a corrupt and dictatorial state, whose citizens practically do not have any rights, which can also be extended to the Armenians of Artsakh.
Recently, Russia proposed that the issue of the status of Nagorno Karabakh be left for the future, and Armenia agreed with that proposal. At this point, Russia, through its peacekeeping forces, must first ensure the safety of the population of Nagorno Karabakh and unfettered communication with Armenia through the Lachin Corridor. With his latest statement, Minister Lavrov is ignoring his country’s initiative, allowing Azerbaijan an opportunity to promote a theory that is unacceptable and dangerous for the people of Artsakh.
It’s time for Russia and especially its Foreign Minister to play a more constructive role and refrain from promoting reckless ideas that are destined to fail.