After the April war, Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting in Vienna was representational. This is what ANM board member Hovhannes Igityan thinks. “Aravot” talked to him about the Sargsyan-Aliyev meeting organized in Vienna under the initiative of the US and the current developments on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Mr. Igityan noted that we appeared in the core attention of the world quite late. However, he considers that the beginning of any negotiations may be positive. “It’s good that everyone is eventually talking about the monitoring. We do not know what positive things it will give to the sides, but the fact that the mechanism will be established and even if it is declared that Azerbaijan was the first that violated, we can consider it positive, – he says, adding, – It is clear that there are no punitive mechanisms and will not be, in other words, Azerbaijan will not be punished in the future, another thing that it will have diplomatic losses in the future, but it seems that Azerbaijan is not concerned about these diplomatic losses. In my opinion, Azerbaijan is not connecting the issue with the negotiations. Azerbaijan used and is using the negotiations for being armed, to solve the problem in a military way.”
Mr. Igityan does not want to focus too much on the initiative of the American side, he only indicates that the more specific statements have always been with the American co-chairs, “The US was viewing the issue comprehensively and was always emphasizing the principle of self-determination as a principle of the negotiation process. I am interested in this. Now, how it is going to be, it is secondary because unfortunately everybody knows that it is an issue within the interests of Russia. It looks like the Americans are also trying to withdraw and not to interfere in tough manners. Both Azerbaijan and other players use this fact that it is Russia’s interest here. Also, there are untrue rumors that allegedly Azerbaijan represents the interests of the West, and Armenia is a part of Russia and advances Russia’s interests in this region. In fact, it is not true, if we look at the statements by Russian officials, starting from Rogozin and ending with Lavrov and others, we will see that all of them are more pro-Azerbaijani than pro-Armenian,” – says Mr. Igityan.
Returning to the Vienna meeting, our interlocutor notes that this time we moved forward by the Azerbaijani formula. “What does this mean? This means that the Azerbaijani statements have not changed. Azerbaijan announces that it is not against the negotiation process, but look, Azerbaijan itself announces in advance about its expectations of the negotiation process and demandingly says that if the things did not turn the way it wants, it will wage again as it is armed and it power is enough to get what it desires. But what does Azerbaijan say? They are guided by a very primitive formula. They say, we were living in peace, Armenia attacked us, occupied 20 percent of the territory and now, it exists there in a military way, and they even emphasize that there is no peaceful population there. They even point out that the maximum concession by their side would be giving a status of independence to Nagorno-Karabakh. Even when Azeris speak about the status, they say that this status will be included in their staff, – says Mr. Igityan, contrasting the stance of the political elite of Armenia in the negotiations, – Armenia, represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, says something obscure that we are ready to negotiate, we are for peace, are talking about the principle of self-determination, and talking about the principle of self-determination, they make it consistent with the principle of Azerbaijan, and it turns out allegedly we are not against for the determination of the status. There is no side that would clearly determine that Nagorno-Karabakh has self-determined.”
The returning of the Nagorno-Karabakh to the negotiation table is one of the most important issues of today that the Armenian side should solve. Mr. Igityan says on this, “I thought that Armenia should also have a tough stance, while Nagorno-Karabakh should have talked about the concessions because by saying concessions we understand we need to give something for the security and independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. This can be done only by Karabakh. We have indirectly recognized the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh in the face of the results of the referendum, and we must say that we do not see the security system of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence other than its independence recognition. Nagorno-Karabakh can make some concessions from the clash of positions of Armenia and Azerbaijan.” ANM board member notices that something has been changed today. The war showed that Azerbaijan eventually connects the solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with a military factor in all cases, “Today, it is also the time for the parties, I mean NKR and Armenia, to review, reconfirm or clarify their positions given the Azerbaijan’s posture.” Mr. Igityan stays away from the idea of counting the territories, he says that he does not want to become one of the targets of demagogic statements who allegedly are drawing a map sitting in cafés. He views this problem in another context, “Which is number one problem for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the processes around it? It is for the civilian population to live there in safe and security. Generally, if there is no peaceful population there, there is no sense to keep the land as a land. I have once said that Azerbaijanis are fighting for grazing lands while we are fighting for the right to dwell. Now, they are talking about the land, I do not want to speak about it. There is a big problem: after this four-day war, at least in our village of Talish, it is impossible to live, also in Mataghis village, in Martakert people are concerned about their security and want to take their children out of the village. If the security is disturbed in these territories, then these territories should be raised in this way, – says Mr. Igityan and notes that after the war these territories were not spoken about at all.” Azerbaijanis are saying, this is our land, whether we have advanced several hundred meters into our lands or not, it is up to us, while we are saying, two hundred meters to this side or that side, it is not a problem, we have 800 000 of these territories and so on. But I am not raising a problem. The matter is about a few hundred people who today are facing with the danger of abandoning their lands, and raising this question was very important and quite appropriate in Europe where there is the problem of refugees and displaced persons, and every instance will understand us,” – says our interlocutor. He has not yet perceived which audience were the words of the president of the country about the loss of territories addressed, “Under this situation, Nagorno-Karabakh voice is very important to me. Unfortunately, Nagorno-Karabakh did not and had no opportunity to present its opinion in Vienna, which had weakened its position. No official of Armenia has ever tried to present the snapshots of Nagorno-Karabakh and opinions about the solution of Nagorno-Karabakh …… Serzh Sargsyan used to say that this ceasefire will save dozens of lives. Who was saying that it is not important, but after the end of the large-scale war, every day someone dies, and if it should be continued like this, an alleged cease-fire and people die, it will mean that this issue has not yet been resolved.”
At this point, Hovhannes Igityan gives importance to our security system. He notes that in the meantime we have never talked about it, “It should be made clear how our state visualize its security system, how it sees its relationship with key players and international organization on the international platform, whether Armenia continues to believe that the accession to the EaEU is the security issue of Artsakh, which the Republican Party, starting from Serzh Sargsyan until the last Republican, were trying to convince us for two years, – says Mr. Igityan, – Certainly, we have never relied our hope on Russia, certainly Turkey has not relied it hope on NATO, he associates its hope with its army, the same for the Israel and in any country, but any system gives an additional security to your strategy. During the recent years, Armenia, especially after the accession to the EaEU and the Customs Union, voices a hope completely on Russians.”