In the aftermath of Azerbaijani FM’s speech
Moscow bureau of Azeri.Today
We, the journalist community, often complain that the journalists of Azerbaijani media outlets accredited in Moscow cannot ask the questions concerning the Azerbaijani people at the press conferences of President of Russia Vladimir Putin or Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It seems easy to ask a question when you have Putin (Lavrov) in front of you in the hall, waiting for journalists’ questions. So why do you, my dear, keep silent? Stand up and ask your question directly. Sometimes the author of these lines imagines himself in the place of those journalists thinking ‘if I were him, I would surely use the opportunity and fire questions at Putin or Lavrov.’
Well, here our outrage seems quite understandable and substantiated. The unclear is another thing, namely, why to discourage our colleagues that managed to ask a question to Putin or Lavrov about the main problem of our state – the occupation of Azerbaijani Karabakh and seven surrounding regions - and accuse them of provocations.
It happened so today – at Lavrov’s press conference, an Azerbaijani journalist, representing one of the local TV channels in Moscow, asked him the following question: what would be Moscow’s stance in case of a launch of a counter-terrorism operation in the occupied lands and cleaning them from occupational forces? Will Moscow close its eyes to this or interfere with Azerbaijan’s internal matter? Some media outlets rushed to accuse the journalist of having provoked Lavrov for a sharp response. Did they expect the Azerbaijani journalist to ask Lavrov about the normalization of Russian-American relations, the matter which is far from being close to us? It has nothing to do with us. The journalist asked a correct question, and Lavrov could have answered more diplomatically since he is a diplomat.
But what did the official, who loves calling journalists ‘jerks’, say in response? According to the Russian Foreign Minister, ‘conduction of any military operation and military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh is not Azerbaijan’s domestic issue.’ It turns out that while recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, in fact, the Russian Foreign Ministry ignores international law and does not consider Baku’s actions in its own territory an internal matter of Azerbaijan. Remember Kremlin simmering with anger when the world community pointed to Russia’s actions in Chechnya. Killing of civilians, cleansing, shelling peaceful settlements in Chechnya. At that time, Moscow was using the rhetoric of ‘fight against terrorism’ and for territorial integrity and recommended the world community not to interfere with Russia’s internal matters. So it turns out that Chechnya is an internal matter of Russia, while Karabakh is not an internal matter of Azerbaijan? Though Azerbaijan was not even going to commit massacres against Karabakh Armenians, but, just the other way round, it offers them the highest status of autonomy. In addition, to speak frankly, Armenians have their state – the Republic of Armenia, while Chechens, Tatars and Bahkirs have no.
But the main thing came later. The ink on Lavrov’s words was not even dry when the prompt and stiff reaction from Azerbaijani FM followed. I admit that such a reaction came for the first time within my knowledge (or for the first time over the past years). In his interview to APA Mamadyarov exposed Lavrov’s twofaced nature, pointing that it is Russia’s destructive stance which hinders the just resolution of the Karabakh conflict: “I am fully confident that if Russia deals with this issue seriously, the status quo will be changed, regional stability will prevail and Armenian armed forces will withdraw from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.”
In fact, foreign experts and analysts have long been mentioning that, but at this particular time Mammadyarov made it clear that Russia does not want the conflict to be settled. It benefits from the frozen conflict and status quo in Karabakh, since such a situation gives Russia a leverage of influence on both Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Let’s be honest: Baku has long hoped that Russia will finally realize the threat posed by the unresolved conflict in Karabakh on its borders. That Russia will be satisfied with the fact that unlike other post-Soviet countries, Azerbaijan pursues the balanced foreign policy, trying not to hurt the feelings of its northern neighbor, that Russia will be satisfied with the fact that Azerbaijan among other states contributes to development of Russian military and industrial complex, making multi-million deals for purchase of Russian arms (which are all the same supplied to Armenia freely or on preferential terms). Unfortunately, Russia is not satisfied and has already shifted to blackmailing Azerbaijan (the statement of now former CSTO chief Bordyuzha about ‘NKR’ before the New Year was a touchstone).
But Lavrov got it wrong. Baku does not accept pressure and blackmail by other countries, if only those possessing nuclear weapon. We can be friends, we can hold mutually profitable trade, we can extend a helping hand to others in difficult times. But we will not allow anyone to speak to us in a language of threats and even so more, will never allow anyone to tear off Azerbaijani lands. And Mammadyarov’s response is an obvious example.
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