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Russian politician urges Armenia, Azerbaijan to make deal

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  • Russian politician urges Armenia, Azerbaijan to make deal

    Russian politician urges Armenia, Azerbaijan to make deal

    Mediamax news agency, Yerevan
    22 Mar 04

    The Russian president's former special representative for the Nagornyy
    Karabakh settlement has called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to "weed out
    the harmful seeds of propaganda". In an article, headlined "Opium for
    its own people" and published by Mediamax on 22 March, Vladimir
    Kazimirov called on the mediators to help the conflicting parties make
    compromises. Mediamax quoted the envoy as saying that "manipulation of
    public opinion deepens mutual distrust" which hinders the settlement
    of the conflict. The following is the text of the report in English by
    the Armenian news agency Mediamax headlined "Armenia-Azerbaijan:
    Former mediator's view on the sides' propaganda"; subheadings have
    been inserted editorially:

    A month has passed since Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan's brutal
    murder committed by Azerbaijani serviceman Ramil Safarov in Budapest
    on 19 February.

    This crime has not only aroused a new wave of mutual hostility in
    Armenia and Azerbaijan but has also become a motive for discussing the
    role of propaganda in the settlement of the Nagornyy Karabakh

    In this connection, we find it expedient to present in our regular
    Weekly Review excerpts from the article entitled "Opium for its own
    people" by the Russian president's former special representative for
    the Karabakh conflict settlement and deputy chairman of the Russian
    Diplomats' Association Council, Ambassador Vladimir Kazimirov. The
    article was presented to Mediamax by Vladimir Kazimirov personally.

    Weed out harmful seeds of propaganda

    There is a direct link between talks on the settlement of a conflict
    and propaganda around it. The less is the progress in the negotiating
    process, the more the sides need verbal cover-up "to compensate"
    it. But, as a matter of fact, there is a lack not only of progress but
    also of negotiations. Shifts in them would demand from the authorities
    and professional propagandists quite another approach to the public.

    One of the main tasks of the settlement is to prepare the sides'
    public opinion for inevitable mutual compromises. And it is necessary
    to weed out the harmful seeds of propaganda right where they spring
    up: to expose the Azerbaijani propaganda in Azerbaijan and the
    Armenian in Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh. Each side is not at all
    impeccable in this conflict, that is why the parties to the conflict
    must be shown that they should make compromises, suffer some
    inevitable losses in order to achieve a peace agreement.

    The role of the media and international mediators is also of great
    importance here. But for the fear of going "against the current" the
    media could greatly contribute to the settlement [sentence as
    published]. The power of inertia is great, but after destroying false
    theses not every propagandist will dare to again sow the same
    seeds. The mediators can help the sides take a more realistic approach
    to vexed issues, help them get rid of the illusions that their
    propaganda creates and is about to give dividends. A common reader
    should know as well that he is being brainwashed by their authorities
    and their subordinate propagandists. Let us look at some concrete

    Propaganda in Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh

    1. Armenia and Nagornyy Karabakh take great pains to hush up a
    widely-known secret - the Armenian regular army participated in the
    hostilities of 1991-94, and they are still stationed in Nagornyy
    Karabakh and the territories occupied outside it. The result is the
    derivative propaganda cliche, as for instance in the very name of the
    conflict and in the description of Armenia's role in the conflict and
    its settlement.

    2. The name of the conflict has for years been a matter of dispute. In
    purely ethnic sense, the words "Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict" would
    be correct. But this way Baku is trying to turn the conflict into a
    matter between two states - Armenia and Azerbaijan, making Nagornyy
    Karabakh just a subject of controversy, removing the Nagornyy Karabakh
    problem as such and ousting the Karabakh people from the
    talks. International organizations, particularly the UN and the OSCE,
    prefer the most correct and natural name "Nagornyy Karabakh conflict".

    Yerevan and Stepanakert [Xankandi] have been trying recently to rename
    it "Karabakh-Azerbaijan [conflict]", obscuring Armenia's role and
    saying that it is not a party to the conflict but only a guarantor of
    Nagornyy Karabakh's security. The Russian diplomacy tried its best to
    persuade Yerevan not to hide behind Stepanakert's back but to
    recognize itself a party to the conflict. Propaganda tricks cannot
    mislead the mediators and international organizations, they are
    obliged to proceed from the realities of life and not from artificial

    3. Zealously and even obsessively, Armenians call "liberated" the
    Azerbaijani territories occupied by them outside Nagornyy Karabakh. If
    the word "occupied" grates, let us call them seized. These territories
    were captured by Armenian troops during the hostilities of
    1992-94. The occupation was the result of the war, its severe
    logic. However, Armenians alter the term not only because they are
    ashamed to be called occupants. This is a claim to represent these
    territories as originally Armenian, which were earlier annexed to
    Azerbaijan. Even if there is some truth in this, there is no need to
    revive the dispute of old ages in the 21st century, to give the
    impression of the desire to rebuild Greater Armenia, which is often
    used by Azerbaijani propaganda.

    4. The common quirk of propaganda has become an attempt to present the
    territorial claims to Azerbaijan as punishment for its attempts to
    settle the conflict by force (like the territorial losses of Germany
    and Japan as a result of aggression in the World War II). It is very
    naive to expect that these arguments will be taken into account during
    the settlement and will help gain territories. The real result of such
    propaganda is increased tension and further difficulties in settling
    the conflict.

    Propaganda in Azerbaijan

    1. Everybody is being convinced that 20 per cent of Azerbaijani
    territory have been occupied, that the country has a million
    refugees. But let us make some calculations: the Nagornyy Karabakh
    Autonomous Region occupied about 5 per cent of the Azerbaijani Soviet
    Socialist Republic, but it is not fully under the Armenians'
    control. Outside it, Armenians have occupied only 9 per cent of
    Azerbaijani territory. Thus, even if we take Nagornyy Karabakh into
    account we cannot get 14 per cent (even in round figures, 15 per cent
    and even 10 per cent is closer to the truth than 20 per
    cent). However, Nagornyy Karabakh's "occupation" is not at all

    There are indeed many displaced people, 750,000 to 800,000, because of
    the conflict in Azerbaijan. But in order to be more persuasive, these
    figures are rounded to a million - to all appearances, counting upon
    compassion and sympathy for the victim party in the conflict. But they
    do not understand that by regularly overstating those already
    impressive figures, they undermine confidence and everything happening
    in Baku will be considered as exaggeration.

    2. Baku often insists on the fulfillment of UN Security Council
    resolutions with the aim to liberate the occupied territories. This is
    an important demand of four resolutions, but only one of them
    [sentence as published]. How can one expect others to fulfil
    resolutions, if he did not fulfil them himself? The main demand of all
    the resolutions adopted in the heat of the hostilities in 1993 was a
    cease-fire. And who violated it, not once or twice? We must not forget
    that Azerbaijani leaders either rejected a cease-fire or violated it
    hoping to achieve a turning point in the war. Those who did not stop
    the hostilities are also to blame for the expansion of occupation and
    displacement of civilians. Very few people know the truth about the
    end of 1993 and the beginning of 1994. I know for sure that there were
    chances to achieve a truce earlier, thus reducing losses of all the
    sides. That is why the fuss around the UN Security Council resolutions
    can "persuade" only those who do not have more complete and true
    information, i.e. "own people" inside the country.

    3. Baku insists that international organizations declare Armenia an
    aggressor. Moreover, it intentionally "confuses" occupation with
    aggression though these are not the same thing. (Germany's occupation
    lasted for many years, and was the USSR an aggressor?) The Karabakh
    conflict is a complicated problem, Armenia is its direct participant,
    as well as Azerbaijan and Nagornyy Karabakh. Curiosity would suggest
    searching for precedents: how many countries has the UN Security
    Council accused of aggression? The OSCE and other international bodies
    do not count here at all. There are hardly one or two such
    cases. Sanctions were imposed on Iraq not depending on the percentage
    of Kuwait territories it occupied and the duration of occupation but
    because it assaulted it. The things are more complicated in
    Karabakh. Such distorted propaganda only causes disappointment and an
    inferiority complex inside the country: like, everybody is unfair
    towards us, the Azerbaijanis.

    4. Finding itself in an uncomfortable situation, Baku has practically
    disposed itself to a "cold war" against Armenians. Both economic
    "shock-absorbers" and any contacts with Armenians (even public ones)
    are denied; those who support these contacts are persecuted. In the
    civilized society, someone would be glad to implant something like
    fundamentalism, revanchism and Armenophobia, which prevent the
    elimination of both the reasons and consequences of the conflict.
    There are more and more manifestations of fanaticism and extremism
    even at the level of public organizations.

    5. But the biggest "achievement" of the Azerbaijani propaganda is the
    bluff of military revenge. The threats do not have even a real
    material basis, not to mention legal and moral ones. Azerbaijan has
    assumed commitments to solve disputes peacefully without resorting to
    force and threats to use force when joining the OSCE. When joining the
    Council of Europe, Azerbaijan (like Armenia) assumed an obligation to
    settle the Karabakh conflict peacefully. The truce treaty is of
    unlimited duration. And who has miscounted the consequences of
    resuming hostilities, their outcome for the parties, losses suffered
    by the people, international reaction, etc? Irrational hysteria
    undermines the young state's authority, puts it in a disadvantageous
    and inconvenient position, and when uttered by officials in a position
    that is ridiculous and humiliating for their country.


    The result is doubtless: manipulation of public opinion deepens mutual
    distrust, which has already become the main obstacle on the path of
    settling the Karabakh conflict. In order to move the conflict
    settlement from the deadlock, it is very important to show the
    falseness of these manipulators from every side, their detrimental