Polad Bulbuloglu: "Never again will Azerbaijan allow separatist phenom on its territory"
On the night of October 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on the complete cessation of hostilities in Karabakh. Yesterday, the heads of the Russian and Turkish defense ministries, Sergei Shoigu and Hulusi Akar, signed a memorandum on the establishment of a joint center to control the observance of the ceasefire in Azerbaijan. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Azerbaijan to Moscow Polad Bulbul oglu spoke about the peace agreement on Karabakh, the future of the Armenian community and the downed Russian helicopter to RBC.
- Thank you for allowing this interview. Moreover, almost immediately after the signing of the fateful agreement, which, we all hope, will bring sustainable peace to Nagorno-Karabakh. Were you aware of the preparation of this agreement? Was there training through diplomatic channels, or was this the very case when the leaders resolved the issue among themselves directly?
- Of course, the leaders decided the essence and details among themselves, but the technical work was done by both embassies and both foreign ministries. Otherwise, such serious documents are not prepared. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Russian side, personally to Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin for the tremendous work done. This complex conflict, which has lasted more than 30 years, and it is thanks to the authority of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, thanks to the political will of Ilham Aliyev and the Prime Minister of the neighboring country [Armenia Nikol Pashinyan], the document [on the cessation of hostilities] came into being. Now the most important thing is the strict implementation of this document if we want to get long-term and stable peace in the South Caucasus.
- Nevertheless, the feeling of surprise and lightning speed of the appearance of this agreement does not leave. Has Shushi passed under the control of Azerbaijan raised the issue of urgency of the truce bluntly?
- Not only Shusha. The attacks went in several directions. As one of the de facto leaders of this entity [of the unrecognized "NKR"] put it, "there were one or two days left before the capture of Stepanakert and other cities." Therefore, in total, I think (and many military experts have already agreed with this opinion) that the Armenian army suffered a crushing defeat and there was no other way out. If they had not signed this document, the Azerbaijani army would have taken Stepanakert / Khankendi, would have reached Lachin, and this would have closed the issue.
- Did the incident with the downed Russian helicopter play any role in the urgency of the agreement?
- No. I can definitely say no. This is a tragic accident. A commission has been created, it finds out the direct causes of what happened. The Azerbaijani side reacted immediately, an investigation was conducted, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued a statement on this matter, I, as an ambassador, informed Russian organizations that a serious investigation was underway, all necessary measures would be taken. Then our leaders talked among themselves, and now the prosecutor's offices are clarifying the details of the incident. Anything can happen in such an environment. When the exact reasons are found out, then it will be made public. I offer my deepest condolences to the families of the victims and I want to reiterate that the Azerbaijani side is ready to compensate the families and the state for the damage suffered as a result of this incident.
- After war comes peace, and it brings questions of a different nature. What will happen to the residents of those territories that are transferred to Azerbaijan? Are you not afraid of the growth of partisan separatist sentiments in these territories?
- I want to say right away that the goal was never to expel the Armenian population from there. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Heydarovich Aliyev has repeatedly spoken about this. Even during the war, he stressed that we are ready to stop the war at any moment when Armenia recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The question was never raised that we want to expel the civilian population from there. But never again will Azerbaijan allow any separatist phenomena on its territory. This is definitely the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, recognized by the whole world and the Russian Federation, which clearly observes international law and the understanding that this is the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Over the past 40 days, both the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian top leadership have repeatedly announced that this is the territory of Azerbaijan.
It is time for many sofa political scientists who talk about the fate of the world to understand once and for all that this is the territory of Azerbaijan, and in the future it will live according to Azerbaijani laws. Citizens of Armenian nationality who want to coexist normally with Azerbaijanis who will be returned to Nagorno-Karabakh, who want to live and work peacefully, let them stay and live. But if one of them once again takes up arms, they will be treated in the same way as terrorists. How should you treat terrorists? Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin once said this very correctly, we will act as the President of Russia recommended to us.
- You have raised a very sensitive issue. Will peaceful Armenians have to leave these territories? Does the Azerbaijani side guarantee that there will be no "special" attitude towards the Armenians in the future in these territories?
- Whether or not to leave the territory is a personal matter for every person, every citizen. The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Heydarovich Aliyev, has repeatedly pointed out that we are for the two communities to peacefully coexist. Now the issue is not even about the communities. The Armenians who will remain should understand that they will live according to the laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan. If they are morally ready for this, if they agree to this, then let them stay, live, work. Azerbaijan today has much more opportunities for economic development than Armenia. If someone cherishes the dream that they will bury the machine gun and then dug it out sometime, let him put those dreams aside. It will not happen.
When Catalonia tried to declare independence, remember how tough the Spanish authorities and all of Europe acted. And they beat me on the head with truncheons, poisoned me with gas, and poured water on them, and a criminal case was opened. As a result, Catalonia remained part of Spain. You need to understand that separatism is a great evil. If given the opportunity, many countries in Europe will suffer from this. The same Spain, the same Belgium, the same Italy, the same Great Britain. Separatism carries with it a lot of tragedies. These are the so-called deceived dreams.
The Armenian army was defeated, Shusha had been under the control of the Azerbaijani army for three days, and the Armenian propaganda and their singers in Russia shouted that Shusha was still in the hands of Armenia. All the victories of the Azerbaijani army were hushed up. Why did they deceive their population? If they conscientiously informed their population about what is actually happening at the front, then there would not be what is happening in Yerevan now.
- You mentioned living under the law. I will allow myself a remark. But the law, in this case, should be the same for everyone and we apply the same to Azerbaijanis and Armenians in these territories.
- Naturally. The laws are the same for everyone - both for the minister and for the average person. Azerbaijan, like Russia, is a multinational and multi-confessional country. There cannot be one law for the Azerbaijanis, another for the Talysh, the third for the Lezghins, the fourth for the Russians and the fifth for the Armenians. The law of the country is the law for everyone. The law cannot be crossed. This is in all countries of the world. Otherwise, there will simply be no states.
Recently, our very famous journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, the head of the popular website haqqin.az, met with an Armenian woman who has been living in Kurdamir city for all these 30 years. She is under 80 years old. She accepted a journalist, he made very interesting material about her. A single woman has been living in Azerbaijan for 30 years. And the neighbors know that she is Armenian, and the whole city knows that she is Armenian, and the authorities. And no one touched her with a finger! She lives in her house, she has a very neat territory, goes to the store, communicates with neighbors. Here is a vivid example of how an Armenian woman can live today in Azerbaijan.
About 30,000 Armenians live in Azerbaijan today. Nobody touches them, nobody prejudices them, nobody judges them according to any special laws. They live like Azerbaijani citizens.
Negotiations have been going on for 30 years. Of these, excuse the immodesty, for the last 15 years, which I have been the ambassador of Azerbaijan to Russia, they went before my eyes; I was a participant in many negotiations as much as an ambassador can participate in negotiations. I am aware of all the correspondence, I am aware of all the proposals, etc. Everything that is available today, everything has been offered to the Armenian side for 15 years.
- Mr. Ambassador, what will happen to the local authorities that were formed earlier?
- Now in the liberated territories, temporary commandant's offices are being created, which are establishing life, and then there will be local government bodies. Of course, all this infrastructure must be managed, all these territories must be restored. Now the hot phase of the conflict will end, and Azerbaijan will certainly provide the world community with data on the destruction that took place in the occupied territories. Many villages, towns and even cities have been wiped off the face of the earth. All this will need to be restored.
By the way, on the territory of five districts, which, according to the Madrid principles and other documents, were subject to return to Azerbaijan, fortified areas, concrete fences, underground passages, underground bunkers were built. It turns out that the Armenian negotiators and Armenia have been leading everyone by the nose for almost 30 years, including the co-chairs - Russia, France, and America. If they were going to surrender these territories, if the conversation from the first day is about the return of territories, about which there are four UN Security Council resolutions, why was it necessary to build such bunkers? Why did you need to build underground passages? Why was it necessary to build fortified areas so that now, at the cost of the lives of Azerbaijani guys, we heroically conquer them?
- How will self-government bodies be formed? Through democratic elections or through direct appointments?
- It is too early to talk about it. The document signed by our esteemed presidents is, in principle, a roadmap. Everything is indicated there. By the way, there are a lot of questions about the information observatory, which is indicated in the document. There is a lot of speculation around him, various conversations, stuffing, etc. I want to clarify the situation. This center will be on the territory of Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani authorities will determine its location, but under an agreement between Russia and Turkey.
Turkey has been a member of the Minsk Group since the first day of its existence. De facto, of course, Turkey will play a role in establishing peace in the South Caucasus. Some Russian political scientists and even politicians perceive this with some horror, try to tune the Russian public, to suggest that Russia has lost. I don’t know who it is for. When serious politicians talk about it, it just becomes ridiculous. Turkey is a partner country of Azerbaijan. This is a fraternal country that has been with us all these years since December 1991, the first to recognize the independence of Azerbaijan. What's so surprising about that? What's so unusual about that? Why should this be presented as some kind of defeat for Russia, a victory for Turkey? Where do these fabrications come from? How many years I have been working, I just cannot understand this.
- Let me ask you a direct question, since you have touched on this delicate topic. Mr. Aliyev announced a joint Russian-Turkish peacekeeping mission. At least that's how it is presented. But there is no such wording in the text of the agreement. Therefore, there are all sorts of discrepancies. Explain in what format and on what basis the Turkish military, if it is military, will be present in Nagorno-Karabakh?
- I am reading you a specific paragraph [of the document]: "In order to increase the effectiveness of control over the implementation of the agreements by the parties to the conflict, a peacekeeping center will be deployed to control the ceasefire." The presidents of Turkey and Russia spoke on this topic just a few days ago, then Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Turkish Defense Minister talked. It will be a Russian-Turkish center, which by technical means will monitor the implementation of the peacekeeping statement by the parties. The conversation is not about the introduction of peacekeepers or Turkish soldiers, the conversation is about technical control.
- That is, there will be some Turkish representatives, but there will be no Turkish contingent on this territory?
- No, this is not necessary.
- Thank you for your direct answer. Let's go back to the world. Economic activity in the territory passing under the control of Azerbaijan, supplying the population and restoring destroyed social facilities and residential homes - is Baku taking over all this?
- Sure. This is our territory. This is the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. And restoration, and supply, and local authorities - all this will be under the control of Baku.
- Will the houses of Azerbaijanis and the houses of Armenians be restored equally?
- Mr. Ambassador, are the agreements reached - is it a truce or is it a status quo for a long time, which suits the leadership of Azerbaijan, removes all claims, and the Karabakh issue no longer exists for Baku?
- This is a solution to the Karabakh issue. And you quite rightly stressed that such a problem does not face Baku anymore. This problem no longer exists, it has been resolved.
- Now we see a video footage of the entry of peacekeepers. How are they taken? How is this mission related? How do you think it will proceed further?
- Russian peacekeepers are being deployed simultaneously with the withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territories. And let the Russian heralds of the Armenian side ask their Armenian friends what the Armenian army is doing on the territory of another state. We have hundreds of confirmations that it is the Armenian side that is fighting. We took a lot of captured weapons there. It is written on the weapon, what part of it is, what year of production, whose production, etc.
The most important thing is that the aggression of Armenia against Azerbaijan has stopped. The end has been set in the occupation of Azerbaijani lands. Everything else will be decided in this vein.
- The agreement instructs the parties to stop at the location in which they are now. Will there be some kind of mutual exchange of territory?
- No. No mutual exchange of territories is envisaged. Moreover, I will ask everyone who writes on this topic to forget the name of Stepanakert, there is no such city on the territory of Azerbaijan. There is a city called Khankendi. Please remember this name.
- Mr. Ambassador, thank you. We wish peace to all our homes.
- I thank your channel and you personally. I would like to note that on November 10, at the SCO meeting, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin very clearly outlined Russia's position on this [Karabakh] issue. But I sometimes wonder why some State Duma deputies from United Russia do not listen to their president's speeches. Or do they not understand what the president is talking about? They make such statements that one wonders how a deputy from a pro-government party can say such nonsense. Today one deputy tried to threaten Azerbaijan with his finger that if even one hair falls from the peacekeeper's head, then Baku will almost be occupied. I want to tell everyone, calm down, the issue is resolved. The issue has been resolved by your president, our president and the prime minister of a neighboring country. Calm down, gentlemen political scientists.
- Everyone, of course, worries about the Russian peacekeepers.
- You can worry, but you have to be objective and say objective things. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my attitude in the speech of Karen Shakhnazarov, who, being an Armenian by nationality (his father was born in Baku, they have Karabakh roots) said: "Come to your senses, Nagorno-Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan and never belonged to Armenia." Look at what is being written about him now, how they pounced on him like a pack of some sort. The man told the truth. And such a reaction to her! Taking this opportunity, I want to thank Karen for his truthfulness, courage, for the fact that he found the strength to say so.