By Rasana Gasimova
Armenia does not want the international community to know about Karabakh’s Azerbaijani community. Yerevan is also against the dialogue between Karabakh’s Azerbaijani and Armenian communities, head of the Azerbaijani community Tural Ganjaliyev told local media.
Touching upon the idea of establishing a dialogue between the two communities, Ganjaliyev said that unfortunately, Armenia does not create conditions for this.
“At least, we could meet on neutral sites such as Georgia and Europe. However, Armenia is against this. It does not want to admit that without Azerbaijanis a resolution of the conflict is impossible. We want to establish a dialogue with the Armenian community, but Armenia avoids meetings,” he said.
Ganjaliyev noted that according to OSCE documents, both communities have equal rights.
“Previously, our community was not so active, while Armenia launched informational propaganda around the Armenian community of Karabakh. In December, I started heading a new board of the [Azerbaijani] community. Over the past year, we have significantly intensified activities in the international direction. This, of course, annoys Armenia, as well as those who serve their interests,” Ganjaliyev said.
Ganjaliyev stressed that the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh is a large association that unites 80,000 people.
“As a public association, we speak on behalf of 80,000 people who want to return their native lands and, at the same time, stand for peaceful coexistence within the borders of Azerbaijan,” he emphasized.
Commenting on allegations by Armenian media that he is not originally from Karabakh, Ganjaliyev said that Karabakh is his ancestral land. He was born in Shusha and lived there until age 12 when the city was occupied by Armenian forces in 1992 and his family was forced to move to Baku.
“My mother’s ancestors are from Shusha. Her roots go back to the family of Panahali Khan [who ruled Karabakh in the XVII century]. My father had a chess school and was a famous person in Shusha,” Ganjaliyev said.
He also touched on the recent resolution introduced to the UN General Assembly by Armenia on designating the World Chess Day and on "culture of peace", saying that Armenia destroyed the chess school in Shusha.
“From an early age I was engaged in music, as well as chess. If it wasn’t for the occupation that changed the lives of all people in Shusha, maybe I would have gone far in this sport. I dreamed of becoming a chess player, but Armenia destroyed all our dreams,” Ganjaliyev said.
Furthermore, Ganajliyev said that his first visit as the head of the community was made to Poland where he visited the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights OSCE.
“Then we went to Los Angeles. This visit was quite symbolic, as the city is considered the capital of the Armenian diaspora. Our visit was a great surprise for Armenians,” Ganjaliyev said.
He said that the community held a number of important meetings in California, including meetings with senior officials of the American Jewish Committee, the Los Angeles Interfaith Council, Jesus Christ Church of Latter-day Saints, Pakistani and Turkish communities, and Orange County Islamic Society, also with Rabbi David Wolpe, close friend of Azerbaijan, and other leaders of the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
“In addition, a special program was organized in one of the largest and most beautiful synagogues in the U.S. – Nessah synagogue. Some 400 people came to the synagogue to meet with us. We demonstrated videos about the Armenian occupation, acts of vandalism in occupied Karabakh. Members of our delegation spoke and shared their memories,” Ganjaliyev noted.
“We also met with reputable representatives of the public, the legislative system, and politicians... Our cooperation with such figures worries Armenia,” he added.
Ganjaliyev said that Armenia tried but failed to interfere with the activities of Karabakh’s Azerbaijani community.
He further spoke about the community’s visit to Belgium during which the representatives of the community met with European officials who had earlier made unauthorized visits to the occupied Azerbaijani lands.
“We told them that there is no state called the Nagorno-Karabakh republic in the world map and it is a dangerous place to visit. It is an occupation zone, a war zone.”
Ganjaliyev also recalled that during his recent visit to Baku, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke about the population, not the “people” of Nagorno-Karabakh, noting that it can be regarded as a message to the Armenia, because the population consists not only of the Armenian, but also the Azerbaijani community.
“It is very important that this message was sent by the Foreign Minister of the country that is a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group. This shows that Armenia will no longer be able to use the concept of ‘the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,’” Ganjaliyev said.
He stressed that Lavrov’s words were the result of Azerbaijan’s strong position, President Ilham Aliyev’s recent speech at the Valdai Forum as well as Aliyev’s statements made at the CIS summit held in Ashgabat.
“Moreover, since early 2019, the OSCE co-chairs made two statements, implying that the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of Nagorno-Karabakh are equal. Thus, Armenia will no longer be able to deceive the international community,” he noted.
“Armenian authorities and the separatist leaders are afraid of establishing a dialogue between Armenians and Azerbaijanis of Karabakh. They are afraid that after talking with us, the Karabakh Armenians will get out of their control and go over to our side. There are rationally minded people in Karabakh who want to co-exist with Azerbaijanis again. After all, they see that the years of occupation have not made their lives better. On the contrary, the borders are closed, the economy has collapsed, the population is fleeing,” he noted.
“I believe that after the resolution of the conflict, Azerbaijanis and Armenians will live in peace and prosperity in Karabakh. I will say even more specifically - Armenians will have to live with us in peace on our land, they simply have no other choice. They must either recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and live in stability and abundance, or leave these lands. There are no other options. There will not be a second Armenian state in our region. The sooner the Armenians realize this, the better for them,” he added.
Ganjaliyev emphasized that a number of different ethnic groups live in peace in Azerbaijan, and Armenians living in Karabakh can become part of this tolerant environment existing in the country. He said that after the voluntary return of the occupied territories to Azerbaijan, the borders will be opened, the economy of the region will rise, important international projects will be implemented, the people of Karabakh will be able to benefit from the international projects implemented by Azerbaijan.
“Peaceful coexistence of the two communities is our primary goal. Despite the fact that we were subjected to aggression and expelled from our land, we live as internally displaced persons and cannot return to our homeland, we are ready to coexist peacefully with the Armenians. How can we forget about how the Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived together in Karabakh before the conflict? In the interests of propaganda, they tell fairy tales about the ‘difficult life’ and ‘oppression’ of Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region are told. But these are all lies,” he stressed.
He recalled that Karabakh was one of the most developed regions in the territory of the Soviet Union, noting that the central authorities of Azerbaijan did everything for the development of Karabakh. Armenians had their own press, schools, and television programs. The Armenian language in Karabakh flourished.
“The citizens of Armenia and the residents of Karabakh do not understand that they are an instrument in the hands of politicians. They are victims of chauvinistic propaganda. Sooner or later, Armenians living in Karabakh should understand that the best way for them is to accept the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. By the way, Quebec once held a referendum on independence, but subsequently realized that the best was to remain a part of Canada,” went on saying.
Ganjaliyev also noted that Azerbaijan is ready to provide Nagorno-Karabakh with the highest degree of self-government.
In December 2018, serious changes took place in the leadership of the Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Not only has the board changed, but also the activities of this structure. The Azerbaijani community has begun actively working with diplomats, politicians, public figures and international organizations.
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