The recent speeches of the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia as part of the plenary session of XVI annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club is quite a unique event that will undoubtedly give impetus to the development of bilateral relations, Secretary General of the Russian-Turkish Public Forum, Director General of the Institute for Political Studies, well-known Russian expert Sergei Markov said in an interview with Trend.
Markov was speaking on the sidelines of the international conference “Azerbaijan-Russia-Turkey: Political Dialogue, Economy, Security” taking place in Baku Oct. 8 at the press center of Trend News Agency.
The expert noted that the issues discussed during the working visit by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Russia and at the meetings held with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi city showed a high level of Azerbaijani-Russian relations in the field of strategic partnership, as well as the closeness of interests of the two countries.
“At the Sochi meeting, the president of Azerbaijan faced a specific and important task,” Markov added. “The fact is that the key foreign policy problem for Azerbaijan is the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which includes the need for its settlement, the return of hundreds of thousands of families to their places of residence, as well as the full return of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan proposes to resolve this issue by peaceful means using the resources of the international community. However, the Armenian diaspora has exceptional influence in the international community, namely in the political, informational, media and expert circles.”
“Even there is a kind of informational and expert blockade regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, as a result of which public opinion in many countries of the world has no access to real information about the events related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the expert said.
Markov noted that there are several facts about which the international community isn’t sufficiently informed.
“Firstly, the international community isn’t aware that there is no parity in positions, and international key institutions such as the UN and the OSCE take an absolutely unequivocal position that Nagorno-Karabakh is a part of Azerbaijan, that Armenia should withdraw its troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories, and there is a great number of the UN Security Council resolutions on this matter,” Markov said. “Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev spoke namely about these resolutions. Another very important issue the international community isn’t aware of, either, is that there are actually two problems behind the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
“The first is Nagorno Karabakh itself, and the second is the seven regions adjacent to it,” Markov added. “The international community knows that there was Nagorno Karabakh, where both Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived, that the Armenians expelled the Azerbaijanis, which is unfair, and somehow this problem needs to be resolved. Meanwhile, few people know that in addition to Nagorno Karabakh, there are districts where Azerbaijanis used to live, and these districts are occupied by Armenia. Moreover, the Armenians practically didn’t live there, and all the inhabitants - Azerbaijanis - were expelled from there, who underwent severe ethnic cleansing, and these seven districts hold a much bigger territory than Nagorno Karabakh itself. Armenia keeps these seven districts under occupation in exchange for future recognition of the status of Nagorno Karabakh.”
“This is absolutely barbaric policy of ethnic cleansing in order to keep empty territories for exchange, and the international community isn’t aware of this at all,” the Russian expert said. “Therefore, breaking through the information blockade in this regard was very important for the Azerbaijani president.”
“It was difficult to do this because there were rather big odds among the audience in favor of the Armenian diaspora,” Markov added. “Such influential political experts as Konstantin Zatulin, Andronik Migranyan listened to President Aliyev and the matter rests not only in the Armenians by nationality, but also in the Russians who have been working with the Armenian diaspora for many years and are doing this on a mutually beneficial basis.”
“Of course, they tried to soften and minimize some emphasis made by President Aliyev,” the expert said. “However, President Aliyev’s confident and objective direct speech was able to break the information and expert blockade on this important international platform with great power.”
While speaking about bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the expert stressed that the Russia-Azerbaijan relations today are positive and on an upward trend, based on fraternal relations between the two peoples.
"Over the past few centuries, Azerbaijan and Russia have been connected by common interests," Markov said. In his words, the countries are also connected by personal friendly relations between the leaders of the two countries - Ilham Aliyev and Vladimir Putin.
“The relations between the two countries today are developing in several spheres. If one talks about politics, this implies primarily well-being of the Russian community in Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani community in Russia,” he added.
“Both communities have been integrated into the society of the two countries,” the expert said. “It is known that there is an extensive system of the Russian sector, covering secondary and higher education in the Azerbaijani education system. The Azerbaijani community has also achieved a high social status in Russia and is one of the richest in Russia, although it is quite fragmented. It is not very consolidated politically and it is not very influential. Unfortunately, it is poorly represented in the media.”
“Moreover, Russia's role in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is extremely important in the political sphere of bilateral relations,” Markov said. “The famous Kazan formula was developed upon Moscow’s initiative. The essence of this formula is that an exchange of territories around Nagorno-Karabakh region is proposed in exchange for the deblockade of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.”
“Moreover, cooperation has been established between the delegates of Russia and Azerbaijan in the international organizations, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,” the expert said. “The Russian and Azerbaijani delegations closely support each other at these venues.”
"We successfully cooperate in various fields, including energy, transport communications, in particular, the North South transport corridor project, the military-technical sphere, the field of investments and the supply of Azerbaijani agricultural products to the Russian markets," Markov said.
Further, the expert drew attention to the Azerbaijan-Turkey-Russia trilateral format.
“Bilateral relations within this triangle can be described as excellent,” Markov said. “The relations between Russia and Azerbaijan, as well as between Russia and Turkey are at a high level. But, in a trilateral format, the interaction between the parties is not effective enough. The thorough analysis is required to understand the reason of the existence of this paradox and the way of developing this triangle.”
“The creation of trilateral formats shows that the international community is moving from tough to soft coalitions,” he said. “These triangles are a kind of coalition. Presently, they are considered one of the fashionable formats and I think that Russia, Azerbaijan and Turkey could strengthen their positions in the region and the world by using this modern format.”
The international conference was held as part of the "Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan: the formation of a new regional transport and energy hub" project, being implemented through the support of the Russian Presidential Grants Foundation.
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