De-occupation of Azerbaijani territories to bring sustainable peace and integration to Caucasus
De-occupation of Azerbaijani territories would promote wider international cooperation and sustainable peace in the region, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev told China's CGTN TV channel (China Global Television Network) in Davos.
When asked whether interconnectivity, infrastructure, a better environment and an alliance of economy with people will help find an opportunity to solve this problem, he expressed confidence that this is one of the most effective ways to liberate Azerbaijani territories, occupied by more than twenty years.
"In the first years of independence, we were subjected to aggression and occupation by Armenia. As a result, more than one million of Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons, 20% of our lands are occupied," Ilham Aliyev said.
The president stressed that Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Azerbaijani territories.
"Therefore, we need to be stronger, more successful and more effective to restore our territorial integrity and return more than 1 million people to their homes. Therefore, a policy of self-reliance, relying on our own resources and reserves leads us to success. Currently, we are raising living standards, we have a good international image. As I have already noted, we have attracted investments in the amount of almost $250 billion. We have invested greatly in military capabilities and created a very successful format of cooperation with our neighbors," the head of state stressed.
He stressed that the country occupying Azerbaijani territories should realize that it could become a party to this cooperation, including energy, oil and gas, transport projects. "All these projects bypass them for one reason: the occupation. If they stop occupation, then, of course, there would be broader international cooperation and sustainable peace in our region," Ilham Aliyev concluded.
Political scientist Orhan Gafarli, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, stressed that now there are positive conditions for Armenia to de-occupy Azerbaijani territories. "The government has changed in Armenia, and the republic's new leader Nikol Pashinyan took a more moderate position on Nagorno-Karabakh than his predecessors Serzh Sargsyan and Robert Kocharyan. In particular, Pashinyan does not refer to Karabakh as 'Artsakh'. In general, his statements show that the new government has a more moderate policy on Nagorno-Karabakh, directed at further cooperation to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict," he said.
The peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to a political scientist, will have a significant impact on economy and life of the Caucasus. "I think that it will be a historic step into a new life. De-occupation of Azerbaijani territories means, in particular, opening of the Turkish border with Armenia, which will ensure its integration into regional economic and energy cooperation," Orhan Gafarli stressed.
Political scientist Gela Vasadze agreed that after the change of power, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is closer than ever to a transition to a practical settlement. "Ilham Aliyev made a very encouraging statement. By many signs, we are on the verge of a possible major breakthrough in relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which is extremely important for the South Caucasus, because most of the borders in our region are closed. Due to these limitations, the region’s potential cannot be fully used, and the presence of hotbeds in the South Caucasus negatively affects the investment attractiveness of all our countries," he noted.
"In this regard, the settlement of the conflict would be a very powerful impetus for the development of the entire macroregion. Achieving peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia could be the first serious political and diplomatic success among the vast number of regional conflicts in the Middle East. And it’s good that the trend which started from the short conversation between Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Aliyev in Dushanbe remains positive. Recently, it was anchored at a meeting of foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Paris, it was followed by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov's statement on Russian expectations of progress in Karabakh, as well as congratulations to Pashinyan from the EU and the U.S. on his appointment as Prime Minister, which noted that everyone expects that Pashinayn to settle the Karabakh conflict," Gela Vasadze recalled.
Head of the Public Foundation 'World of Eurasia' Eduard Poletayev welcomed the fact of informal meeting between Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan in Davos. "It's great that the leaders meet, even if they do it at the sites of third countries. The fact that new formats of interaction are entering the South Caucasus arena is a positive factor. The initiative should come directly from the parties to the conflict here," he stressed.