On September 27, Armenian armed forces launched the provocative attacks targeting the positions of Azerbaijan armed forces and the civilian settlements at the line of contact. In response to Armenian aggression, on the same day Azerbaijan armed forces started to launch large-scale counter-offensive military operations along the entire line of front. According to reliable information by the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani military units have managed to liberate a number of areas from Armenian occupation and destroyed the military positions of Armenian armed forces. While the Azerbaijan army is carrying out successful military operations in the occupied Karabakh, Armenian side continuing brutal acts shelling the innocent civilians and properties.
Eurasia Diary portal conducted an interview with Ümit Nazmi Hazır, a Turkish analyst on Eurasian studies regarding the current developments around the new Karabakh war. Ümit Nazmi is Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
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– As a result of Armenian aggression, there are a number of casualties among the local population, and one of them is that the family of five, including two children, was victim of Armenian shelling of their home. Firstly, what can you tell about Armenian aggression against Azerbaijani civilians?
Unlike other clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia, at this time civilians unfortunately have also lost their lives. As long as Karabakh problem is not solved, Armenian aggression would continue. Furthermore, Armenians also suffer from this war, since numerous Armenian families do not want to send their children to Karabakh.
– What do you think that Azerbaijan has the right to liberate its territories from Armenian occupation through military means?
According to international law and the UN charter, Azerbaijan has right to use military means in order to take back its territories from the Armenian occupation. Moreover, the peace talks and the efforts of the Minks Group have not brought any solution for the Karabakh problem for almost 30 years. Hence, Azerbaijan is not hopeful that the Karabakh problem can be solved by peaceful ways.
– Do you think that the Turkish military strategy Azerbaijan has mastered plays a significant role in the successful military operations conducted by our country in the occupied territory of Karabakh?
Turkey’s military cooperation with Azerbaijan definitely contributes to Azerbaijan’s military power. However, I would like to underline that Turkey is not involved in this war. According to the Armenian propaganda, “Turkish F-16 downed an Armenian fighter plane.” However, this is definitely not true.
– Nowadays we see that Russia has left Armenia alone in the new Karabakh war with Azerbaijan. Please tell us, what is the main reason for that?
As far as I am concerned, there are two reasons of Russia’s attitude. Firstly, as a result of the Armenian velvet revolution in the spring of 2018, Pashinyan rose to power as the Prime Minister. He has not appeared to intend to make a fundamental change in Armenia’s foreign policy, because it is virtually impossible. However, he has aspirations to build up close relations with the West. Russia considers Pashinyan as an unreliable leader. Russia has not directly expressed his support for Armenia yet, because Russia might expect Pashinyan to lose prestige and power through the Karabakh war. It could enable Russia to have more power over the Pashinyan’s government. Likewise, Russia became silent and did not attempt to save Lukashenko in the protests of Belarusians as Russia expected him losing his power in Belarus and being in need of Russia.
For another reason, to bear in mind, while on the one hand Russia is Armenia’s strategic ally, on the other hand Russia and Azerbaijan are linked by strategic partnership relationship. In this respect, both Azerbaijan and Armenia buy weapons from Russia. Hence, Russia does not want to lose both sides and maintains its rhetoric to be a mediator between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
– How do you think that the end of Karabakh war with the victory of Azerbaijan armed forces could reverse the current developments in the South Caucasus? Do you think that Russia and Turkey could become powerful actors in determining the future of that region, as like Syria and Libya?
Due to being at a crossroad between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the Caucasus is a crucial region where Turks, Russians and Persians historically competed in terms of geopolitical competition. The Caucasus is a bridge for Turkey to stretch over the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. According to Turkish perspective, Armenia was established and used in order to cut links between Turkey and Azerbaijan as well as between Turkey and Central Asian Turkic states. In case Karabakh returns to Azerbaijan, the status quo in the Caucasus would considerably change. Moreover, it would open ways for Turkey and Azerbaijan to establish relations with Armenia. Azerbaijan and Armenia will no longer seek arms race. Therefore, the solution of the Karabakh problem would also open new ways for Armenia. As long as Karabakh remains under the occupation of Armenia, Armenia does not have any chance to establish relations with its two neighbours (Azerbaijan and Turkey) and would remain an isolated and problematic country as well as dependent country on Russia.
The Karabakh problem is more than a regional issue of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Karabakh issue is very important for the Caucasus and Eurasia. This issue has potential to effect and spark new developments in Northern Caucasus and Iran. For instance, many Azerbaijani Turks in Iran currently are taking protests and showing their support for Azerbaijan. Hence, the Karabak problem is directly related to the stability of the region.
“Some countries, especially France, want to pit Turkey against Russia through the Karabakh problem, since France considers Turkey as a rival and wants to reduce the effect of Turkey on Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean. However, Turkey and Russia would not want to have a crisis due to the Karabakh issue. Besides, they can negotiate and find common ground, even though they are in different positions in the cases of Libya and Syria.
Interviewed by Yunis Abdullayev