The Munich Security Conference included a meeting between US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev respectively, as well as the panel discussion "Moving Mountains."
The US Secretary of State hopes for a solution...
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's hope that his meeting with Pashinyan and Aliyev - "a historic opportunity to ensure lasting peace after more than 30 years of conflict" - would become a reality, it would seem, and instilled some cautious optimism in the progress of the negotiation process of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
This is especially the case since after the meeting he noted "significant the progress made by both sides over the past few months on the way to a peace agreement." However, he did not disclose what this "progress" is.
In addition, following the meeting, Ilham Aliyev said that "there is progress in Armenia's position, but it is not sufficient." It must be assumed that Azerbaijan intends to continue the pressure, including through the blockade of the Lachin corridor.
Long-term experience shows that the President of Azerbaijan almost never complied with the agreements - there is a lot of evidence for this: the 4-day war of 2016, Azerbaijan's attack on Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, as well as a large-scale attack on Armenia in September 2022. (Not counting the violation of the sovereign territory of Armenia in 2021 on the Sotk-Khoznavar line).
In addition, a map from the Azerbaijani military unit has recently appeared, according to which Azerbaijan plans to seize the Armenian regions of Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Tavush, half of Gegharkunik region and part of Ararat.
The blockade of the Lachin corridor...
During a panel discussion on security issues in the South Caucasus, Ilham Aliyev claimed that Azerbaijan is not blocking the Lachin humanitarian corridor. However, if Aliyev is telling the truth, then why does the European Parliament adopt a resolution demanding that Baku unblock it?
It will be said in place that dozens of Western countries are making similar demands, let's take the same Secretary of State Blinken, who at a meeting with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan stated the need for free and open commercial and private transit through the Lachin corridor.
"The President of Azerbaijan noted the statement of 2020, in which it is written that the Lachin corridor should operate under the control of Russia. Several children tried to drive along the Lachin corridor. They were stopped by masked Azerbaijani citizens, their bus was invaded, the children were scared, and this was the last time civilians tried to use the road," Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recalled.
The Lachin corridor has remained blocked for more than 70 days, putting Nagorno-Karabakh in a humanitarian and energy crisis. The supply of electricity and gas is intermittent. During these days, the gas supply (via the Armenia-Nagorno-Karabakh gas pipeline) has been turned off at least 10 times, and the power grid cannot withstand loads, since the air temperature is below 0, and people are forced to heat their homes with electric stoves.
Moreover, it turned out that by resuming the activities of the gas pipeline, Azerbaijan, to put it politely, "borrows" gas intended for Nagorno-Karabakh.
The blockade itself means the conduct of military operations. Continuing the war, Baku is trying to get concessions from Yerevan on the regime of the road that will connect Azerbaijan with the exclave of Nakhichevan.
This theory is supported by the statements of Ilham Aliyev himself, who, at the end of the Pashinyan-Blinken-Aliyev meeting, said that it was necessary to establish a checkpoint.
"If we talk about the delimitation of the border, checkpoints should be installed both at both ends of the Zangezur corridor and on the border between Lachin and Armenia."
However, in the trilateral statement of the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan dated November 9, 2020, there is not a word about anything like this.
But it is noted: "The Lachin corridor (5 km wide), which will provide a link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia and will not affect the city of Shusha, remains under the control of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation."
In this regard, a more prosaic question arises: what are the Azerbaijani military and pseudo-ecologists doing there for more than 70 days?
Moreover, today the International Court of Justice took interim measures against Azerbaijan, obliging it to provide all the means at its disposal to ensure the transportation of people and goods in two directions along the Lachin corridor.
At the same time, the same court rejected Azerbaijan's claims against Armenia.
Another incident is that for more than 3 years, Ilham Aliyev has been trying to convince the world that "there is no Karabakh,""there is no Karabakh problem."
At various venues, the President of Azerbaijan pushes the thesis that he started the 2020 war against Nagorno-Karabakh "in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions"!
However, four UN Security Council resolutions demanded that Azerbaijan cease hostilities, but Azerbaijan itself continued the war. In addition, it is not entirely clear how the UN Security Council resolutions relate to periodic attacks on the sovereign territories of Armenia after 2020 and the blockade of the Lachin corridor.
And what about the statement of November 9, 2020? It mentions "Nagorno-Karabakh" as many as four times?!
It is noteworthy that the moderator of the panel discussion in Azerbaijan was accused of bias: "Aliyev said that there is no such thing as "Nagorno-Karabakh" and asked to respect the sovereignty and laws of Azerbaijan.
Pashinyan replied that Aliyev himself signed a document on November 9/10, which refers to "Nagorno-Karabakh". The moderator did not give the floor to Aliyev, but moved on to questions from the audience, and soon the broadcast was completely interrupted."
Today, when Pashinyan spoke about democracy and freedom of speech in the Munich security conference, 2 Azerbaijani television channels cut the live broadcast.Sitting in front of a dictator and giving him a lesson in democracy is just awesome😀
Thank you Mr.@NikolPashinyan 👏 pic.twitter.com/0P1wZyDrsc
— manaf jalilzade (@JalilzadeManaf) February 18, 2023
And the OSCE Minsk Group exists, no matter how Ilham Aliyev denies it and no matter how sad it may sound for those who want to bury it.
"The OSCE Minsk Group has not been dissolved yet, it exists, it does not work together, that is, the three Co-Chairs do not work together, but for us, as co-chairs of the Minsk Group, our mission always exists, which means to continue working on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue," said Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Armenia Anne Louillot.
Ilham Aliyev and his arithmetic...
Another strange statement by the President of Azerbaijan concerned the religious aspect, or rather the mosques in Nagorno-Karabakh.
"Armenians destroyed 67 mosques in Artsakh," Aliyev said in Munich.
But in November 2015, at the opening of the XII session of the ISESCO General Conference, he claimed that "Armenians destroyed 10 mosques."
Aliyev counted 10 mosques during a performance at the opening of the XII session of the GC of Isesko
And in Munich he said that 65 and 18 only in #Shushi.
— Ararat Petrosyan (@araratpetrosian) February 20, 2023
Advisor to the State Minister of Artsakh Artak Beglaryan notes that the official documents of the Soviet-Azerbaijani government indicated that only 17 mosques were located in the territories under the control of Artsakh.
"We deliberately did not destroy a single mosque, even the Shusha Mosque was restored and, like the churches, preserved as much as we could," he said.
But mosques, churches, synagogues were destroyed by thousands during the Soviet era. Including Azerbaijan and including when Ilham Aliyev's father, Heydar Aliyev, was the head of the Azerbaijan SSR.
Another thing is that Aliyev Jr. is trying to give the Azerbaijani-Artsakh conflict a religious character and turn Muslim countries against the Armenian people. However, he did not particularly succeed in this, because his arguments are not supported by accurate factual evidence.
Democracy is like a nightmare
In conclusion, it should be noted that in addition to all this, the segment of Nikol Pashinyan's speech about democracy was a heavy blow for Ilham Aliyev. As soon as the Armenian Prime Minister started talking about democratic and open elections, Azerbaijan's state TV interrupted the broadcast from Munich, turning on a political talk show.
I wonder what Aliyev was more afraid of - that Azerbaijanis would find out that there are democratic elections in the world, or that the Armenian leader was calmly talking about this topic?
In this context, the phrase with which the host of the Azerbaijani talk show began his program is even more remarkable: "There was nothing new on the panel this year."
By Editor-in-Chief “Respublica Armenia” newspaper Ararat Petrosyan.