All posts by karabakh karabakh

Open letter to PACE by Elkhan Suleymanov

04.07.2019 | 13:00

To:

Ms. Marija Pejčinović-Burić

Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland

Former Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Ms. Liliane Maury Pasquier

President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Chairpersons of the Political Groups of PACE

Chairs of the National Parliaments of Member States of PACE

All members of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Baku, 4th July 2019

OPEN LETTER

Dear colleagues,

   During its summer session in 2019, PACE adopted the Resolution 2287 (2019) “Strengthening the decision-making process of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning credentials and voting”. Taking into account the importance of the provisions included in this resolution, I feel compelled to note the following on these provisions.

Thus, in paragraph 2 of the resolution, it is underlined that the Assembly “intends to constructively analyse the consistency, relevance, effectiveness and legitimacy of its procedures and mechanisms”. The document also brings to the attention that the Assembly may find it “necessary to change its practices and adjust its rules”, were “a revision of its machinery and procedures to prove indispensable to uphold more resolutely the Council of Europe’s fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights”.

The Assembly recalls the decision adopted by the Committee of Ministers in Helsinki on 17 May 2019 on “A shared responsibility for democratic security in Europe – Ensuring respect for rights and obligations, principles, standards and values” (paragraph 4). The document also says that the Assembly is firmly committed to making the proposal operational as soon as possible, which was made in Resolution 2277 (2019) and Recommendation 2153 (2019) “Role and mission of the Parliamentary Assembly: main challenges for the future”, to set up a joint procedure of reaction, which could be initiated by the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers, and the Secretary General, “in order to strengthen the organization’s ability to react more effectively in situations where a member State violates its statutory obligations or does not respect the fundamental principles and values upheld by the Council of Europe”.

The Resolution notes that the member States are entitled and have an obligation to participate on an equal basis in the two statutory organs of the Council of Europe, in accordance with the Statute of the Organization. Furthermore, it is recalled that all parliamentary delegations enjoy the same rights under its Rules of Procedure and are subject to the same obligations in accordance with the procedures that apply equally to all (paragraph 8).

In the resolution, it is recalled that the members’ rights of participation or representation in the activities of the Assembly and its bodies that may be withdrawn or suspended by the Assembly are not listed in the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure. However, in order to ensure the coherence of the Council of Europe´s internal legal framework, as well as to ensure that the member States’ right and obligation to be represented or to participate in both statutory bodies of the Council of Europe is respected, the Assembly decides to supplement Rule 10 of its Rules of Procedure as follows: “The members’ rights to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies shall not be suspended or withdrawn in the context of a challenge to or reconsideration of credentials” (Paragraph 10).

Finally, at the end, “the Assembly considers that the issue of supplementing its Rules of Procedure with regard to introducing a procedure for challenging the credentials of individual members of a national delegation on substantial grounds deserves further consideration” (Paragraph 11). It can be presumed that the Assembly understands that the mandates are granted to the individual members of the national delegations by the national parliaments they represent. Therefore, by mentioning the absence of the issue of a challenge to credentials of individual members in the Rules of Procedure, it says that this issue deserves further consideration.

Thus, on the eve of 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe, PACE’s efforts in improving and further strengthening its decision-making process concerning credentials and voting, at first sight, seem as a very positive step. Is it true that the PACE, when adopting this resolution, solely brought the issue of “revision of its machinery and procedures to uphold resolutely the Council of Europe’s fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights” on the agenda as an objective need in the year of 70th anniversary of the organization?! In that case, didn’t the Assembly respect the values set forth in the Statute of the Council of Europe so far?! If so, how can we evaluate this organization’s statements and decisions on upholding values such as ensuring democracy, the rule of law and human rights in member States? To what extent, are the decisions within the framework of PACE to date on member States in line with the declared values of the organization?! Could these decisions be considered objective?! Are the member States’ equal rights in PACE respected, or are they subject to discrimination and partiality? Even the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly do not provide for punishment of and challenge to the credentials of individual members, how did the PACE Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs adopt a decision, with fabricated grounds, on punishment of individual members, who cooperated with Azerbaijan?

Weren’t the Assembly leaders so far aware of the fact that the members’ rights of participation or representation in the activities of the Assembly and its bodies may be withdrawn or suspended by the Assembly are not listed in the Statute of the Council of Europe and the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly? In this case, on which grounds, the PACE imposes sanctions on any member State and makes every effort for this attempt?

As can be seen, there are a lot of questions. However, it is necessary to have a look at the practice of adoption of decisions in PACE in order to find answers to these questions. When analysing this practice, the reasons for adoption of the resolution “Strengthening the decision-making process of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning credentials and voting”, which we briefly commented on above, and the factors that condition it become absolutely clear.

I should note that Azerbaijan has been subject to biased attitudes and discrimination on different issues in PACE for many years. Thus, regularly, allegations of political prisoners only in Azerbaijan, out of other member States of this institution, were put forward and documents were adopted. Even in order to increase tensions against Azerbaijan, paradoxical situation arose in PACE in connection with the issue of political prisoners: two tasks, namely the definition of the criteria for the “political prisoner” and the follow-up to the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan were entrusted to one MP, Christoph Strasser. Adoption of such a decision was a clear example of the existence of biased attitude and double standards against Azerbaijan in the structures of the Council of Europe.

During PACE 2012 October Session, after tense debates, Strasser’s report on the definition of political prisoners was considered legally adopted by 89/89 votes being against and for, due to the imperfect rules of procedure. This vote undermined the credibility of PACE on this issue and proved that there is a serious disruption in the Assembly. Strasser’s biased report on the follow-up to the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, which was of merely anti-Azerbaijani nature, was rejected by serious vote margin in 2013 January Session – the vast majority of the Assembly members voted against this biased report.

The anti-Azerbaijani forces became furious over the rejection of Strasser’s report, and thus, with various pretexts and means tried to bring back the allegations on the agenda as if there are political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Those forces began to form an opinion, alleging that the achievement for the preparation of the report on escalation of tension in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied territories of Azerbaijan and the adoption of Resolution 2085 (2016) “Inhabitants of frontier regions of Azerbaijan are deliberately deprived of water” have been possible thanks to bribing PACE members by the Azerbaijani authorities. As I (Elkhan Suleymanov) and my colleague Muslum Mammadov were distinguished by our special activities in achieving successes in the name of Azerbaijan, accusations of corruption were put forward against us.

The anti-Azerbaijani forces, who were convinced of the impossibility of achieving malicious plans against Azerbaijan through putting the reports on the agenda, namely through the internationally recognized democratic voting, chose a new strategy. The imposition of sanctions on and the punishment of the PACE members, who cooperated with Azerbaijan and demonstrated independent position during the discussions on the issues related to Azerbaijan, should have stood in the centre of this strategy. For this purpose, with the support of the PACE secretariat, the allegations were made by those forces that as if the members, who voted against the Strasser report, have been party in the business with Azerbaijan of corruptive nature. Several reports were prepared by the European Stability Initiative NGO on the corruption within PACE. Thus, investigation of the allegations of corruption within PACE was put on the agenda and the decision was made on setting up the Independent External Investigation Body. It should be noted that the desire to turn Azerbaijan into a political battlefield through bringing back the issue of political prisoners on the agenda was standing behind the creation of the Investigation Body to look into allegations of corruption within PACE.

Indeed, the members of the Investigation Body, when preparing the report, had limited their mandates to Azerbaijan. Thus, only one page (out of 219 pages) of the Investigation Body’s report of 2018 was dedicated to other member States, while the rest of the report (218 pages) to the issues related to Azerbaijan.

Despite no proof and evidence was shown in the report, the PACE members, who were the co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan and the heads of election observation missions, committee chairpersons and chairs of the political groups, who were cooperated with Azerbaijan, between the years of 2008 and 2017, were suspected of allegations of corruption. Allegations of breach of the Assembly’s Code of Conduct were put forward against them and they were threatened of suspension of their activities. Even the PACE Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs adopted a decision on deprivation of 14 MPs, cooperated with Azerbaijan, of the right to access the Council of Europe and Parliamentary Assembly premises for life.

It should be noted that regular discrimination on several member States in PACE was obvious. However, this institution adopts Resolution “Strengthening the decision-making process of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning credentials and voting”, even there is no serious change in the international situation, including interstate relations of member States. In this resolution, it states that “The members’ rights to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies shall not be suspended or withdrawn …”.

By making this decision, the PACE acknowledged that the decisions (at least majority of them) adopted in the Assembly so far have not served Council of Europe’s values; the Statute of this organization was not respected when adopting these decisions; and in other words, the adopted decisions served corporate purposes.

A Question arises: what stands at the root of this de-facto acknowledgement? When looking at the opinions of the leaders of the Council of Europe regarding organization’s financial situation in the last two years, it becomes clear that the organization has faced serious financial problem. Indeed, it draws particular attention that in paragraph 13.2. of the Resolution 2292 (2019) on the ratification of credentials of the Russian Federation, the Assembly calls on the Russian authorities to “immediately pay all fees due to the Council of Europe budget”. It seems, currently, the solution of the financial problem in PACE has become top-priority and more fundamental matter for the Assembly.

Who plans and controls these processes? It should be noted that these processes serving corporate interests in PACE relates to the institution’s Secretary General Wojciech Sawicki. As a consequence of Sawicki’s active work, the discrimination and biased attitudes against the member States of PACE have been on the agenda. Thanks to Sawicki’s unprecedented efforts, and despite being contrary to the Statute of the Council of Europe, the Independent External Investigation Body to look into allegations of corruption within the Assembly was created, and significant amount of money was spent to ensure the functioning of this Body, in spite of serious financial problems the organization faced. Based on Sawicki’s demands, the PACE members, who were co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan and the heads of election observation delegations, and who have demonstrated objective and independent position on the issues related to Azerbaijan, were suspected of allegations of corruption and punished without any proof and evidence and despite going against the Statute and the Rules of Procedure of the organization.

Merely, as a result of Sawicki’s activities, PACE has become a guarantor of interests of a certain group, but not the European common values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Actually, at present, PACE’s Presidential Committee and Bureau, as well as political groups are led by Sawicki and they are not in a position to make decisions independently, bypassing his will. In general, current situation in PACE can be characterized like “If I am here – the organization exists, if I am not – the organization does not”. This situation in the Assembly has begun to be formed by Sawicki since 2006, and currently, has reached its peak. Two years later, the election of Secretary General is due to be held, and Sawicki will have to leave this position. Therefore, he is absolutely not interested in the future of the Assembly and he continues his dirty deals based on the principle of “If I am here – the organization exists, if I am not – the organization does not”.

Today, as a consequence of Sawicki’s activity based on “divide and rule” principle, an environment of distrust and no confidence has been formed in the Assembly. As an example, it would be appropriate to note that immediately after the adoption of Assembly Resolution 2287 (2019), the delegations of seven member States left the organization as a sign of protest and sent an address to their national parliaments on suspension their activities in the Assembly.

As a result of Sawicki’s destructive activity, the individual members of the Assembly lost their confidence in the political groups. Thus, the Free Democrats Group of the Assembly was abolished on 1 July 2019, due to the fact that it couldn’t increase the number of its members to meet the new requirements of the Rules of Procedure, which were changed by Sawicki in April of this year. This confirms the abovementioned facts.

These processes prove that, on one hand, the member States have already lost their trust and confidence in PACE, on the other hand, the PACE actually turns itself into an unnecessary institution.

With my best regards,

Elkhan SULEYMANOV

Member of Milli Mejlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Former Member of Azerbaijani Delegation to PACE

Israel Hayom: Azerbaijan – the Holy Land of Fire

24.04.2019 | 15:37

The influential Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom has published an article entitled “Azerbaijan – the Holy Land of Fire”. AZERTAC presents the article.

An excursion through the streets of the beautiful city of Baku will make you disconnect from the permanent image of the Caucasus as the eastern part of the West. Next week, a Formula 1 race will be held in the capital of Azerbaijan, and the city is preparing for the important international sporting event. While in Baku for several hours, we see beautiful modern architectural buildings, huge palaces, broad and illuminated avenues, restaurants on all sides, cafes and bars with prices affordable for any Israeli tourist visiting Azerbaijan.

We, Israeli journalists, came here to see, understand and take a closer look at the territorial conflict Azerbaijan has been suffering from for the past 30 years. We saw a difficult state of the country suffering from occupation, a country the name of which means “a land that keeps fire”.

Baku: from harmony to the heart of the conflict

We have come to the majestic Heydar Mosque, the four minarets of which rise to a height of 95 meters. When the Sun illuminates this architectural miracle, it is difficult not to feel the religious power of the Universe towering above life. The mosque is named after the national leader of the country, the legendary President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. The mosque has three floors where women also pray, can accommodate 3,500 people, but the most surprising thing we find in the mosque is not the huge carpet of 900 square meters, which immediately catches the eye at the entrance, but the rare and unique religious harmony of this remarkable country that cannot be seen or felt elsewhere in the world.

Two imams meet us at the entrance to the mosque – Hafiz Abbasov (Shiite) and Akhund Rauf (Sunni), as well as other high-ranking representatives of religious denominations, including the head of the Mountain Jews and the head of the Albanian Catholic Church. The Azerbaijanis are very proud to be the first secular parliamentary country of the Islamic world where religion and state are completely separate.

Such harmony can exist between people of all religions (there are 955 registered religious organizations operating in the country), which is both strange and quite logical. “The reason it works and the fact that there is harmonious religious and national tolerance lies in the fact that Azerbaijan has always been a unique place for multiculturalism,” explains Ravan Hasanov, head of the Baku International Center for Multiculturalism. “Due to its geographical location at the crossroads of cultures and religions, representatives of many nationalities and religions live in Azerbaijan, while the policy of multiculturalism has been raised to the level of official state policy. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev treats representatives of all religions equally and conducts a very wise policy which promotes unity, peace and calm between peoples and confessions.”

We leave comfortable Baku and its lit up nights and drive along straight roads to the border of the territories of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia – the bleeding wound in the heart of the Land of Fire which physically tears it into two.

The landscape is homogeneous, there is black and fertile soil, several agricultural settlements and road stations, domestic animals on the roadside and, above all, somewhere on the horizon, distant mountains rise as a threat from above. In the chaos that arose before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1988, ethnic conflicts erupted between the Armenian and Azerbaijani population in the South Caucasus region. It is a historical fact that 250,000 Azerbaijanis were expelled from Armenia. In February 1992, Armenian armed forces committed mass slaughter and killed 613 civilians in the Azerbaijani city of Khojaly in one night. As a result of the ethnic cleansing carried out by Armenia, 750,000 Azerbaijanis were expelled from their own lands in Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts.

Tartar District: human sadness on the border

Four kilometers from the border with the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, we are met by the friendly head of Tartar District Mustagim Mammadov.

When Mammadov tells us that during the military operations rockets landed in Tartar from all sides, we felt like in Israel.

The head of the district took us to the “Maraga” monument erected by the Armenians to mark the 150th anniversary of their resettlement to the territory of Azerbaijan from Iran and Turkey. Winning the Russian-Iranian war, Russia carried out a massive resettlement of Armenians to the territory of Azerbaijan. Most Armenians were resettled to the mountainous part of the ancient region of Azerbaijan.

These events are explicitly confirmed by a number of irrefutable facts. One of the most significant ones is the monument erected in the village of Maraga of Aghdara District of Karabakh in 1978 to mark the 150th anniversary of the resettlement of Armenians to the village of Maraga from Iran. When the Armenians left, they destroyed this historical monument.

A sense of historical justice is the source of strength for the Azerbaijanis who speak about the conflict with Armenia with pain in their hearts. During our visit, they told us the story of their country time and again, including the campaign of Alexander the Great to this region. We heard from people that the region’s largest water reservoir Sarsang located on the Tartar River in Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Armenia allows for the accumulation of up to 560,000 cubic meters of water. In Soviet times, these resources were allocated to irrigate about 130,000 hectares of farmland. During the war of 1992-1994, fierce battles were fought for the possession of the reservoir. As a result, Armenia occupied the territory, controls the reservoir now and blocks water resources for Azerbaijani farmers and agricultural lands. As a result of the occupation, agriculture significantly declined, and in order to prevent a crisis, the Azerbaijani government provides economic benefits to this region by allocating the necessary subsidies for the development of this sphere. Instead of the water sources of the Sarsang reservoir, Azerbaijani farmers irrigate their farmland with artesian water, which they raise from under the ground with great difficulty.

This is the economic cost of the conflict for Azerbaijan, which produces cheap agricultural products with huge investments derived from the country’s oil and gas revenues. That is what I understood from a conversation with Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov, who first of all expressed his admiration with the opportunities and technological capabilities of Israel in the field of water management. When I asked the head of Tartar District whether young people were leaving this agricultural periphery for the big city, Mustagim Mammadov said: “Everything you see in Baku, we have here, perhaps even more”.

We are going to the village of Hasangaya. In 2016, in the run-up to the four-day April war, a 16-year-old Turana Hasanova was killed by artillery fire from Armenian armed forces. The young girl became a victim of Armenian occupiers. We meet her parents. They tell us everything that happened with great pain and sadness in their eyes. They show us the brother of the deceased – a 32-year-old Azad Hasanov who hit an anti-personnel mine on the line of contact. His leg was amputated. The sight of the ruins is heartbreaking, we empathize and understand the misfortune and sadness experienced by people driven out of their own lands.

Lalatapa: between two mountains

“At the beginning of April 2016, the Armenians, as always, carried out their usual provocations on the front line at night, but this time we decided to respond firmly and with great force,” says Major Tahir, who, unlike many soldiers we met, looked very confident and smiled. “The Lalatapa height we freed provides our forces with the opportunity to observe and exercise fire control over the Horadiz settlement, the area around it, further in the direction of Fuzuli, and removes the threat of an important railway junction of Horadiz being fired on by the enemy. It also prevents the enemy from the opportunity to covertly concentrate and advance in this direction.” The Lalatapa operation for the Azerbaijanis is the equivalent of Israel’s conquering Mount Hermon, a battle that is a source of pride for all the Israelis.

We sit at Lalatapa with soldiers and traditionally drink the hot and strong Azerbaijani tea with incredibly tasty jams, a ceremony no Azerbaijani host will let you do without. I sit and watch over this valley, look down and understand that the Lalatapa summit dominates a vast territory. Because of the winding terrain, natural obstacles and sharp artificial bends, even a brand-new Japanese jeep will find it difficult to climb the hill. In 1993, the Armenians seized this mountain peak, creating a fortified position – almost impenetrable and almost invincible.

Azerbaijani soldiers and officers are proud to have liberated the fortified complex in a matter of 20 minutes. The topography around the outpost shows that they were superheroes of their country. As a part of the Israel Defense Forces, I simply admire the courage of Azerbaijani soldiers. I try to understand how the battle unfolded and how Azerbaijani superhero soldiers managed to capture the fortified Armenian outpost. After a long time, I discovered that according to foreign media, Israeli military technology no-one likes to talk about, helped courageous Azerbaijani soldiers and their heroism.

Ashagi Abdurahmanli

In this village, we met with the president of the International Eurasian Press Foundation, deputy chairman of the Press Council of Azerbaijan, Umud Mirzoyev, who offered to take us to his former village now destroyed by the Armenians. This elderly and bright-hearted person moved us to tears. “My school was here, my home was here, this was the home of my wife’s parents, this is where we played football as kids.” When we approach a beautiful green hill, he adds, “Here I fulfilled my father’s will. When he was dying, he asked me to bury him in our village, on our land. He told me, “My son, the process of liberation of Azerbaijani lands has begun, and I believe that all our lands will be freed in the near future, so bury me in our village.”

We walked through the ruined village and saw destroyed houses, schools and smashed tombstones. The tombstones were barbarously disfigured. This is something horrific – Armenian snipers deliberately shoot even the dead. The soldiers accompanying us ask Umud to bend down, but the emotional Umud refuses and, standing before the grave, declares his loyalty and devotion to his land, the land of his great-grandfather, grandfather and father, his country and the Azerbaijani people.

Jojug Marjanli

“I am no hero, I stayed here because this is my land,” says Ogtay who, despite his modesty, is definitely a local hero. “Between 1994 and 2016, Armenian armed forces fired on our village almost every day. It was clear to the local people that this was a psychological war with the use of live ammunition. The Armenians turned this famous village of Jojug Marjanli into a living firing range for their soldiers from the Lalatapa post.”

In this difficult situation, more than 1,000 rural residents temporarily left their homes and lands and moved to safer and more peaceful places. The last person who stayed behind and even refused to be evacuated was our humble hero Ogtay. For 22 years, he continued to work on his land and raise children, started his own farm despite the constant danger to life. His children attended school in a distant village. I asked if the friends of his children came to play in this abandoned and forgotten village. Ogtay smiled ironically, “Kids will be kids – of course, they came here.”

After a complete defeat of the Armenian occupying forces in the battle of Lalatapa, the Azerbaijani government and state restored the village. As a result, there is a beautiful, I would say even a fantastic village now.

The whole village serves as an excellent illustration of the past. The walls of a local school are decorated with photos of national heroes who gave their lives for the liberation of this village during the battle. I understand why it was so important for the Azerbaijani people that we, Israeli journalists, see this village, because there is nothing more important for them today than the living narrative telling their story as a phoenix which rose from the Soviet ashes and restores its future.

It is hard not to feel the hypocrisy of the world if we compare the history of the refugees and internally displaced persons living throughout Greater Azerbaijan with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While the Palestinians do not let go of the rusty keys to the homes of their great-grandmothers and grandfathers, and the world is buzzing around them in headlines, the Azerbaijanis ask for very little – world attention. They want the world to know about the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, the problems of one million refugees and internally displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan.

More importantly, the Azerbaijanis want the world to pay attention not only to the catastrophe of the Azerbaijani people, but also to the restoration and rehabilitation of the de-occupied territories provided by the state, especially to the fact that they are trying to resolve the interethnic conflict without fomenting hatred between nations.

Time and again, our Azerbaijani friends proudly tell us that despite the ethnic cleansing by the Armenians and the destruction of all mosques in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, the Azerbaijanis not only did not expel the Armenians living in Azerbaijan, but even restored and repaired the Armenian Church located not far from the Old City in the very center of Baku. We personally witnessed that.

As Zamin, the principal of a school in Jojug Marjanli, summed up, “I do hate the Armenian soldiers occupying my land, but I do not hate the Armenian people as a whole.”

So where is all this going? During our trip, a meeting of the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia was underway in Moscow. It seems that the Azerbaijanis are not interested in continuing the conflict.

Arye Gut, an expert on Israeli-Azerbaijani relations, explains the position of Azerbaijan, according to which diplomats hide behind the words. “It is a fact that more than 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory is under Armenian occupation. This is illegal occupation. There are four resolutions of the UN Security Council that do not recognize Armenian occupation and control over these territories.

Despite the clear calls by international organizations for the Republic of Armenia to withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan, Armenian forces continue to occupy Azerbaijani territories, continue to shoot and violate the ceasefire.

However, Baku is also trying to resolve the issue peacefully. Everyone understands that without the support of a third country, the poor Armenia could not occupy 20 percent of the territory of Azerbaijan. And the patience of Azerbaijan is at its limit. Baku has repeatedly stated and warned Armenia that it will never put up with the existing status quo. However, the delusional statements by the military and political leadership of Armenia are evidence of their concern, fear and panic.”

These words of the Israeli expert confirm the words of a young schoolchild from the borderline Tartar District I met when he was supposed to take an examination for the certificate of maturity. When asked how this conflict would end, he replied: “We have no intention to lay claim to the lands of others. The lands occupied by Armenia are ours and we will never abandon them. If necessary, we will fight and, in the end, they will surrender or pay with blood,” said the Azerbaijani schoolboy.

Departure from Baku: towards democracy

The Azerbaijanis understand the geopolitical map of the region very well. During the visit, we always hear their great appreciation to Israel for its support. We heard this during a meeting with the Azerbaijani President’s Assistant for Public and Political Affairs Ali Hasanov. “Azerbaijan considers Israel to be a friendly country and a strategic partner. Just a few days ago, early parliamentary elections were held in Israel, and the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, won for the fifth time and headed the government. We have great respect for the choice of the Israeli people. Netanyahu was the first senior Israeli official who visited Azerbaijan in 1997 and met with Heydar Aliyev.

Our special strategic relationship began after that historic visit by the Israeli Prime Minister. Then Benjamin Netanyahu paid his first working visit to Azerbaijan in December 2016, thereby demonstrating a course for the further closeness between Baku and Tel Aviv. We treat the Israeli head of government with great reverence and respect. We are aware of the warmth and respect Benjamin Netanyahu has for our country and President.

Today, the relations between Azerbaijan and Israel are successfully developing in all areas. I also want to note that 65 percent of the oil consumed in Israel comes from Azerbaijan, which is the most important buyer of Israeli high-tech products.

We will continue to work on strengthening and deepening the relations between Israel and Azerbaijan in all fields.”

Our last meeting in the capital of Baku was with the Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan Hikmat Hajiyev. During the meeting Hajiyev told us about the unique status of Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 21st century and the strategic importance of relations between our two countries.

“Since the restoration of state independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has developed special relations with Israel. Israel was one of the first countries to recognize our independence. We have excellent economic, political, military, cultural and trade relations. There are direct flights, which proves that there are excellent and stable relations. Just before Pesach, 1,000 Israeli tourists flew “Azerbaijan Airlines” from Tel Aviv to Baku in just one day.”

When we ask him about the democratic reforms in Azerbaijan, Hikmat Hajiyev rightly answers. “We are on course to becoming a democratic state. Not every country is adaptable to the same democratic model. Our democracy is only 27 years old. Democracy is a state of consciousness, and if you look at civil rights, religious rights, and political rights, you will find that Azerbaijan sometimes suffers from an unfair image. Therefore, we appreciate those of you who come here to get acquainted with the country, understand the country’s problems, objectively evaluate them and see the truth.”

Hikmat Hajiyev enthusiastically told us about the opening of a kosher restaurant in Baku, which once again underlines and shows how important Israeli tourism is, as well as the technologies that Israel provides to Azerbaijan – from agriculture and medicine to modern weapons.

“Azerbaijan has a place on this geopolitical map, and I always jokingly say that if you look at the map, my country looks like a bird flying from east to west. So if you tear off one wing, it will not be able to fly. This is why we say that we need both wings,” says Hikmat Hajiyev, Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry creates Twitter page on illegal activity in occupied lands

17.04.2019 | 16:50

Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the country’s diplomatic missions constantly focus on any activity that calls into question Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within the internationally recognized borders, Trend reports referring to the press-service of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.

These activities are constantly monitored and corresponding measures are taken to stop them. With this purpose, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has created Twitter page entitled “Armenian Occupation Watch” (https://twitter.com/ArmenOccupWatch). It contains information on direct and indirect illegal and other activities being carried out in the occupied Azerbaijani territories as well as on legal entities and individuals registered in foreign countries and attracted to illegal economic and other activity in the occupied Azerbaijani territories. The Twitter page also provides other facts and photographs, highlights the cases of violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty by foreign individuals and legal entities, and calls to put an end to this activity.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.

Trend: