Azerbaijan has reiterated that it is ready to grant the highest status available to Nagorno-Karabakh. But the essence and details of this status are not always disclosed. These details can be interesting and attractive for the Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh…
As you know, one of the provisions of the Madrid Principles addresses the status of Karabakh. But it will be possible to grant a status only after Azerbaijani community returns to this territory and the surrounding districts are de-occupied. Azerbaijan can consider the issue of high status only after this takes place. Similar status is available in different parts of the world.
For example, South Tyrol. It is a cultural autonomy and cultural status within the territorial integrity of the country. This is about both vertical and horizontal status. This status preserves subordination to the state in social, political and economic fields. There are also principles of independence. In this context, the principles of the entity that will be established in Karabakh should be discussed. True, as MPs, we don’t have a deep awareness of this matter. However, it is known that Azerbaijan already has great proposals and plans on post-conflict development of this territory.
This territory belongs to Azerbaijan and it is responsible for socioeconomic development here. Azerbaijan has already identified financial and other matters that need to be settled to develop post-conflict Karabakh. All Armenians living there are citizens of Azerbaijan. The issue of their rights is a matter which will be settled under the laws of Azerbaijan. The concept of a status implies co-existence of both Azerbaijani and Armenian community in Karabakh. No one will be inferior or superior to one-another here. I wondered about the issue of South Tyrol during my recent visit to Italy.
The preservation of national and cultural identify is very important here. The principles of existence of everyone within the country’s laws regardless of language, religion and national identity are paramount in Azerbaijan. This is not tolerance. Tolerance means endurance. We are people who stand above tolerance. We preserve identity and respect rights of people who co-exist together with us and try to help promote their national and moral values. This is the greatest principle that the Azerbaijani state is committed to. In this respect, the rapprochement between Azerbaijani and Armenian communities should move into mainstream.
Is the model of South Tyrol acceptable for Azerbaijan?
Yes, it is acceptable because it does not violate the principle of territorial integrity at all. It is an existence within a state while preserving own language and culture. But it should be noted that there are no any separatism trends. People even speak two languages in South Tyrol – Italian and Austrian.
This model is acceptable in case of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is possible to preserve Armenian language and Armenian schools. Educational institutions and branches of higher schools in Nagorno-Karabakh may be restored in conditions of autonomy. It is possible and necessary to restore them. The concept of a status implies all these. But it does not man that they will have their own stance, foreign policy and they will be able to adopt any decision they want to. It is impossible to adopt decisions contradicting interests of Azerbaijan. This is true in Tyrol, too. The people there abide by laws of the state they live in. This is an interesting model of a status of autonomy.
Some time ago you criticized the work of the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh. Does the community really not make due efforts or they just have no opportunity to do this?
The Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karababkh has every opportunity to engage in extensive activities. First and foremost, the community members are renowned public figures of Azerbaijan. They have very good offices and every condition. There are also no financial problems. I mean there is every opportunity for them to work. What I am concerned over is that the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh needs to be recognized not only within the country, but also on international scale.
This is a community of people deprived of their rights and who have lived as refugees and IDPs for many years. Many of them have faced financial and moral challenges. It would be better for the community to estimate the damage caused to these people and demand international courts to restore civil rights of these people. Moreover, the community should address international organizations frequently and hold various meetings.
There are various communities around the world. The Azerbaijani community may meet with these communities, exchange views and learn some things from them. No doubt, the Karabakh problem will be settled. These communities will be living together. The principles of co-existence of the communities need be identified after the problem is solved. The Azerbaijani community should also be aware of them.
Great part of the Armenian community holds Azerbaijani citizenship. Many of the Azerbaijani community members know them. It would be good if efforts were made to being them closer. Our community should have its own programs. Every citizen of Azerbaijan should be aware of this community and each action undertaken by the community. As an MP I have no idea about the work of the community. It would be nice if they released magazines and newspapers and engaged in propaganda on TV programs and websites.
Most importantly, they should have access to world. Certain forces will reckon with them once they position themselves as a strong organization. It would be better if it introduced itself to world community as Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh Public Association. But sometimes they expect the state to take all these steps. But the state has its own work to deal with. The state holds talks and does a wide range of other work. But it is your rights that are violated. The financial and moral damage is growing every day. Your rights to life and education are breached.
This community should portray this fact to the world and get its rights restored. It does not mean that we expect the community to solve all problems. Not at all. But the community needs to prove itself. The Armenian community is its opponent and the Azerbaijani community should be stronger because they are in their own lands.
You said above that people whose rights are violated should take the matter to international courts. Has there been any precedent so far when a decision issued by some international court was enforced in relation to any conflict?
The problem of refugees and IDPs have particular place in current political agenda of the world. I mean refugees who left their lands as a result of a conflict and those refugees whom we call migrants today. The international organizations have tabled this issue many times recently. The army of refugees is growing across the world. Europe and America are not interested in this. Once Pope John Pavel called refugees ‘a painful, incurable wound on a body of humankind’. In this respect, refugees’ request with international organizations to ensure their rights and freedoms is seen as a sensitive issue across the world. This matter was raised by 56 states in Croatia recently. There are a variety of laws and conventions related to rights of refugees and IDPs. We should make use of them. It would be possible to enforce any decision after the conflict is resolved.
Is a decision by some international court able to solve an issue which politics and diplomacy find difficult to resolve?
The court decision means to draw attention to a particular issue. For example, the European Court reviews some issue for many years. This is not only about complaints of refugees. It is about hundreds of thousands of complaints related to various fields. It sometimes takes 5 to 10 years to review some issues. But it is true that the European Court solves some issues in short term while it solves some issues for years. For example, it reviews complaints of oppositions in short term.
What I want to say is that the appeal of the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh with all instances over non-implementation of provisions of the convention is totally different from complaints of separate individuals with the European Court. This will draw certain attention in any case. The international community is aware of the essence of the problem. The information blockade has been broken. What we need to do today is to enforce principles of international law in this field.
I want the Azerbaijani community [of Nagorno-Karabakh] to have a team with a good knowledge of international law. There is a need not for lawyers who are aware of civil law, but those who have studied in Europe and are aware of features of the legal sphere in Europe. We have many such lawyers and the community should benefit from them. The community should work to do much. It is essential in order to be able to live in Karabakh in future and preserve one’s strong standing. The Armenian community will have to reckon with us if we are stronger.