We’re at the conference on 20 years of Azerbaijan’s independence. What was your view of the president’s speech to the conference?
I thought it was very relaxed, very informative. It was a very positive message, both inside Azerbaijan, but I think more importantly he was speaking to a wider audience, in particular Europe, where I think he sees very much the stability of the region as being of great importance. What he was saying was a very positive message that Azerbaijan is not only important because of energy and the resources they have, but also for the part they can play in the stability of the region between the Caspian and the Black Sea. I think he was really positive in that message that he wants solutions to the problems they face, and of course Nagorno-Karabakh is the biggest problem they face and I think it’s right and proper what he said. I think the biggest present that anyone can give to Azerbaijan for the 20th anniversary is to see a positive move on the solution to Nagorno-Karabakh. But that can only happen if the Armenians see sense.
The Azerbaijani authorities say that the international community doesn’t give a damn about Karabakh.
I think that’s why it was right that he devoted quite a big part of his speech today – 20% of his speech was directed at the way in which the international community are trying to ignore Nagorno-Karabakh. They know it’s a problem, they can’t find easy solutions, so they ignore it. And it’s a great pity that a million people still continue to be displaced, 20% of a country in Europe is occupied by a foreign power, which isn’t right. If we all aspire to democratic processes, then I think that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, who were displaced from there, have to be allowed to have their say about their future and their future must be as an integral part of Azerbajian.
Azerbaijan is proposing cooperation with Armenia after it withdraws its troops from Azerbaijan’s territory, but Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan recently said again that there is no other solution than the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. Are you sure that the international community will solve this any time soon?
They won’t solve it if it falls on deaf ears. What President Aliyev was saying today was “I want people to wake up to this issue. Don’t just look at us for what we can give you in oil and gas, but look at us for what we need from you.” What Azerbaijan needs from the wider community in Europe is some justice about Nagorno-Karabakh. And that’s what he was saying: “Don’t just take from us, we expect to have something back.” And that would be support to get justice for that cause.
What do you think is the main problem hindering a settlement?
I think the biggest stumbling block is the diaspora from Armenia, who continue to fund a hopeless cause. They have some romantic and emotional attachment to something which is really a false premise for them. I think it will remain unresolved as long as the diaspora is able to influence so much of what happens in Armenia. There is no other country in Europe which is really controlled from outside, by the diaspora either in France or in the United States. That can’t be right. If Armenia is a free and democratic society, I think the people of Armenia might have a different say, the ones living there. They could share the prosperity that Azerbaijan brings to this region. And all the time they’re living this falsehood about Nagorno-Karabakh, and the people of Armenia are losing out.