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Russia does not recognize Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh – comments from Baku

Comments on Putin’s speech at Valdai

Answering a question from the representative of Armenia at the Valdai Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin transparently hinted that the Russian version of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict resolution does not mean recognition of Azerbaijan‘s sovereignty over the part of Karabakh where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed. Putin‘s statements caused some discussion in the expert community of Azerbaijan.

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Answering a question from the representative of Armenia, Putin repeated the well-known theory that Russia once proposed a phased resolution plan, but Armenia refused “and now it has what it has.”

Putin also made an important clarification: “Let Armenia itself decide with whom to resolve the conflict – with the West or Russia.” According to him, the Western version assumes that Karabakh will remain part of Azerbaijan.

“Putin has targeted Pashinyan”

According to political observer Shahin Jafarli, it is clear from Putin’s speech that there is a certain “Washington version” of the peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia proposed by the United States and supported by the European Union:

“Putin said that the “Washington option” implies Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh.

In his words, resentment is clearly felt. It is clear that Russia will not support the peace treaty proposed by the West. If we translate Putin’s words into a language understandable to everyone, he told the Armenians literally the following: “If you agree to the Azerbaijani government in Karabakh, then this is your business. Don’t expect anything else from Moscow.”

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Shahin Jafarli notes that according to Russia’s position, Karabakh has some “special qualities” that should be reflected in the peace treaty:

“Putin targeted Pashinyan, saying that Russia takes into account the interests of Azerbaijan, but will pay attention to the proposals of its ally Armenia. He conveys the message to the Armenian people that if there is a peace option that does not satisfy your interests, Pashinyan will be the culprit, Russia was ready to support you.”

The expert said that now the Armenian opposition, based on the words of Putin, will put pressure on Pashinyan in order to avoid signing a peace treaty in which Armenia recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders and renounces territorial claims. Putin’s speech creates hope among Armenians that there is an alternative to this option: “This, of course, will complicate Pashinyan’s life.”

“Undoubtedly, even in the “Washington version” there are articles that take into account the rights and security of the Armenian population of Karabakh; there cannot be a peace treaty without this. The status of autonomy is unacceptable for Azerbaijan, but Baku can agree to a model of self-government at the level of local authorities, and temporary international guarantees for the security of the Armenian population of Karabakh,” Jafarli added.

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“Putin is concerned about the possibility of signing a peace treaty”

Gubad Ibadoglu, chairman of the opposition Democracy and Prosperity Party, said that “seven conclusions can be drawn from Putin’s speech at the Valdai Forum:

  • Washington recognizes Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over Karabakh;
  • Putin expresses concern about the possibility of acceptance of Washington’s plan by Armenia, and the signing of a peace treaty between the parties;
  • Putin is preparing for a new provocation in which Armenia will be blamed;
  • Putin demands that Armenia make a choice, and if this choice does not meet the imperial interests of Russia, he warns Pashinyan that he will again raise the Armenian opposition to power in Yerevan;
  • Putin threatens Azerbaijan with Russia retaining control over Karabakh;
  • Putin does not take into account the opinion of either the people or the authorities of Azerbaijan;
  • Putin declares that he will support the choice of the Armenian people.”

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“I’m sure we have a plan”

Former Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofig Zulfugarov also shared his opinion on Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Valdai Forum:

“Why is he interested in this in the first place? He simply made public what was happening in the Minsk Group “secretly”.

For the management of the conflict by external players, and therefore for the management of Armenia and Azerbaijan through conflict, two topics are fundamentally important:

  • moderation-management of the negotiation process;
  • moderation-management of “peacekeeping forces”.

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After November 10, 2020, both of these topics were dominated by Russia, along with a serious role for Turkey. This did not suit the West and Armenia very much.

Now the situation has partially changed. The West, systematically, through political influence, has ensured that it returned to the negotiation process and continues to “push” the topic of its participation in the “peacekeeping forces.” True, while having achieved its actual presence parallel with Russia on the conditional border from Armenia. It should be assumed that both the West and Russia will try to create a format and participate in negotiations between the Azerbaijani authorities and “local Armenians”.

Now about the “differences” in the positions of the West and the Russian Federation on the topic of status. These differences do not exist; as the 25-year practice of the Minsk Group has shown, they are meaningless, because it is impossible to achieve a result that would satisfy everyone … then these declared positions will easily change.

And the last thing … there is a very high probability that a weakening Russia will simply leave Karabakh, possibly giving way to its partner de facto — Turkey. But if the West gets into Karabakh, then it will be for a long time, because the Macrons and Pelosis do not inspire optimism …

In general, the Minsk Group is trying to revive itself and return piece by piece.

All that I have written is what our “sworn” mediator friends intend to do. But we also have, I’m sure, our own plan … “

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“Azerbaijan must demand the withdrawal of Russian troops”

A leader of the Republican Alternative opposition party, Natik Jafarli, likened Vladimir Putin’s speech at the Valdai Forum to “grandmothers’ gossip on a bench in front of the door.”

According to the politician, Putin made it clear to Armenians that Russia has not yet made its final decision on Karabakh:

“Now the Azerbaijani side is obliged to send a note to the Russian Foreign Ministry, and demand officially with a signature that Karabakh be recognized as the territory of Azerbaijan. Otherwise, demand the withdrawal of “peacekeepers” from Khankendi [Armenians call this city Stepanakert – JAMnews] within 72 hours.

Putin is raising the stakes, and therefore it is already necessary to engage. In the near future an agreement should be signed with Turkey on the establishment of several military training centers in Azerbaijan. You don’t have to call them “bases”.

In fact, Putin announced the existence of two plans, and according to the Russian plan, the Karabakh issue is frozen. The situation is getting worse, and we must be ready for a diplomatic or military solution to this problem.”