Polad Bulbuloglu: "If Karabakh conflict won't be resolved in a peaceful way, we'll go with military"
On the night of April 2nd, all cross-border positions of Azerbaijan were subjected to heavy fire from large-caliber weapons, mortars, grenade launchers and artillery units. In addition, a number of settlements near the contact line of troops, densely populated by civilians, were attacked. 'Dozhd' TV channel asked the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu what exactly happened in Karabakh yesterday, and whether or not a war between the two countries will start.
- What exactly happened last night in Nagorno-Karabakh?
- It's not about what happened that night, or what will happen another night. The fact is during that this, conflict, civilians and military personnel of both sides are endlessly dying, even in a more or less calm time. This conflict should have been stopped long ago. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has stressed many times in his speeches that Azerbaijan is a supporter of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but if this conflict won't be settled, then we will use force to liberate our lands from occupation. 21% of Azerbaijani territory is under occupation. What country, what nation can put up with that? To resolve the conflict, it is necessary to remove the root cause. And the root cause is in the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory, and it is an internationally recognized fact. There are four UN Security Council resolutions, there is a decision of the General Conference of the United Nations, there are documents of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, PACE and so on, which clearly require Armenia to withdraw its occupying forces. After all, we are talking not about Nagorno-Karabakh itself, but about five districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh. We must face the truth, Azerbaijan has proposed liberating these five districts and beginning peace talks on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh for a long time.
No one is going to drive out the Armenians who live there. I am from Karabakh. The conversation is about the fact that Azerbaijanis should return to their homes, and both communities have to find a common language and learn to live together. But as long as the occupation corps are standing on Azerbaijani lands, this will continue, no one hides it, until the last Armenian soldier will leave Azerbaijani territory. We have stated this many times at all levels. Mr. President stated, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated, I, as the Ambassador, have repeatedly stated. But we are not heard. And when we are not heard, events like the ones that took place last night occur. Because it is necessary to resolve the conflict. Expressing concern is very good. We appreciate such care for us. But it is necessary to resolve the conflict. There was a trilateral meeting in Sochi, we reached certain agreements, but none of that happened in real life. That is why such conflicts are continuing. A child died recently, civilians died recently. How long can this go on? What country will endure, when more than 20% of its territory is occupied?
- Is fighting in this area still continuing?
- I'm not in Azerbaijan right now, I'm talking to you by Skype from the beautiful ancient Russian city of Saratov, and I heard this news here, in the morning. So I know what you know from official sources. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry announced its losses, the losses of the opposite side. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu intervened, but it won't resolve this issue. It is necessary to resolve the conflict, and in order to resolve it, it is necessary to withdraw troops from the five districts belonging to Karabakh. Until that happens, armed clashes will continue.
- Mr. Ambassador, is there any kind of interaction with Russia or with the United States right now? Europe has already spoken on this subject.
- There is the OSCE Minsk Group, they have been travelling to Armenia, Azerbaijan and conducting these negotiations for 14 years already. But if you pat on the head all the time and say: "Well, it's okay guys, you will agree somehow!" there will never be peace. It is necessary to declare clearly, definitely, from the standpoint of international law, who owns this land and who occupied whose land, demand to get the hell out of it from the occupiers, then the long-awaited peace will begin.
- And who should the initiator be?
- As soon as Azerbaijan appeals to some international organizations, they tell us: "No! There is the Minsk Group. Let it decide!" But it does not resolve this issue, it does not offer a real way out of this situation.
- Can you assume that this conflict may develop into full-scale hostilities?
- As long as the occupation corps are on the territory of Azerbaijan, no one can guarantee anything to anyone. We raise this issue at all international platforms, at the PACE and in the Council of Europe. This is the international right of any State and, therefore, as long as such a thing exists, no one can guarantee anything. This was repeatedly stated by our President, it is on the negotiating table, there are the so-called 'Madrid principles' – everything is superficial. You just have to take a map and see who is on whose territory.
The Collective Security Treaty Organization intervenes, the CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha says that he is concerned. He often visits Yerevan, so he should explain to his colleagues what must be done to avoid war.
- Are the Azerbaijani authorities currently planning to start active military actions?
- I can't speak for the authorities of Azerbaijan. I can speak as a citizen of Azerbaijan, as an Ambassador of my country to Russia – we are fully committed to a peaceful settlement of the conflict, but it can't last forever. I'm 71 years old, I'm from Karabakh, why should I be deprived of the opportunity to go to my homeland? Just because someone wants it? Azerbaijan has the strength and the capabilities. If the conflict won't be resolved peacefully, we will resolve it through military means, and in order to avoid war it is necessary to exert pressure on Armenia, so that it withdraws its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, and then resolve the problem of cohabitation of Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh through peace talks. Cohabitation. The formula is very simple. It is not necessary to graduate from an academy and receive diplomas to understand it.