ISA QAMBAR: AZERBAIJAN'S MEMBERSHIP OF NATO DOES NOT MEAN AN IMMEDIATE RETURN OF OUR OCCUPIED LANDS
By Ilya Faynzilberq

Day.az
Oct 3 2008
Azerbaijan

A Day.az interview with leader of Musavat Party Isa Qambar.

[Correspondent] Isa bay [mode of address], the Parliamentary
Assembly of the Council of Europe has voted against stripping the
Russian delegation of its voting rights in the CE despite the fact
that the whole world witnessed Russia's military aggression against
Georgia and the recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and
Abkhazia, which are integral parts of universally recognized Georgian
territories. How would you explain such a position of PACE, and does
this stance not encourage the Kremlin aggressive policy?

The West has to abandon "post cold war" policy

[Qambar] The PACE resolution is the continuation of Europe's "post
cold war" policy with regard to Russia; the USA and leading European
states still hope very much that it will embark on the course of
democratization. Although, this hope has collapsed long ago and the
obvious reality is that Russia's positioning in the capacity of a state
roughly violating democratic values and openly pursuing an aggressive,
neo-imperial policy; European countries continue to believe that the
way to kindness goes only through magnanimity but not via rigidity. In
my view, this is an erroneous way which will not be successful and
will not accelerate the democratic processes in Russia and will not
be conducive to the establishment of the worldwide stability.

[Correspondent] Why is Europe taking such a wrong step, openly playing
to Russia by violating the principle of territorial integrity of the
state by recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia?

[Qambar] To all appearances, Europe has chosen a way of the least
resistance. In my view, this is an erroneous way and it would be
good for Europe to make every effort, first of all, to make Russia
to relinquish its aggressive policy with regard to the neighbouring
countries. Moreover, this position of Europe contradicts the interests
of Georgia which became a victim of the Russian aggression and
democratization processes though pledges to be backed by both the
USA and European countries.

The way of the least resistance chosen by Europe will not lead to a
resolution of the existing problems, on the contrary, will aggravate
them. I am convinced that Europe has to realize the importance of the
moment and embark on the course of considering issues of democracy,
stability and security worldwide in general context. In other words,
Europe should realize that without coercing Russia to exact adherence
to international norms, it would be impossible to establish stability
and security worldwide as a whole and in the South Caucasus region
in particular.

Therefore, I consider that PACE should have demanded honouring of
all commitments assumed by all members of this organization and took
a more critical position with regard to Russia.

[Correspondent] Well, how should Azerbaijan build relations with
PACE, Europe as a whole, after it "has chosen the least resistance"
and undecided about applying sanctions against Russia which openly
violates the principle of territorial integrity of states?

[Qambar] US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently reiterated
her old thesis that over the last 60 years, the USA sacrificed freedom
in the Middle East to the stability having neither this nor that at
the end. I would like very much that this thesis be transformed from
a spick-and-span phrase to the foundation of the US real policy and
the free world. Naturally, Azerbaijan is interested in building
relations with all countries and Russia based on equal rights,
mutually beneficial relations and respect.

Nevertheless, one should not forget that a considerable part of
the Azerbaijani territories has been occupied by Armenia and the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict has not been so far resolved. Our
country is facing a need for a choice of the further ways of strategic
development. And in my view, Azerbaijan should make its choice towards
integration into Europe.

[Correspondent] Nevertheless, Georgia and Ukraine have long been
knocking at the doors of NATO and have not so far become fully-fledged
members of the North Atlantic alliance. Who guarantees that Azerbaijan
would be accepted to the ranks of the full members of NATO if official
Baku abandons its balanced foreign policy and states unambiguously
its desire to join the alliance?

NATO membership does not mean immediate return of lands

[Qambar] Naturally, even if today official Baku states about its
aspiration for a full membership of NATO, this does not mean that we
shall get up as a member of this organization tomorrow. There exists
a whole series of procedures which Azerbaijan should proceed in order
to join NATO.

Moreover, let us be straight open, our country does not meet standards
of this organization both in the sphere of the military building and
in democratization. Azerbaijan also needs to resolve a host of other
problems to get to the genuine market economy.

Here we should also underline that as of lately, a high-ranking
Russian politician said that even if Georgia were a member of NATO,
Russia would treat Georgia similarly as it did before eyes of the world
community. This shows that if countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and
Azerbaijan join NATO, they should get firm security guarantees from
the North Atlantic alliance in case of a military aggression against
them by Russia.

[Correspondent] Will Azerbaijan's membership of NATO be a guarantee
for the return of the occupied by Armenia 20 per cent of our lands?

[Qambar] Azerbaijan's membership of NATO does not mean an immediate
return of the occupied territories of our country. Nevertheless, a
resolution of this issue will become real if all three countries of our
region become members of the same security system by sharing the whole
system of values of NATO. So far we witness that Georgia is openly
stating about its desire for a full membership of NATO. Armenia is
satisfied with a "title of an outpost" of Russia in the Caucasus, and
Azerbaijan hopes to take advantage of a so-called mutually-distanced
and balanced foreign policy. Under such conditions, the prospect of
establishing stability and peace in the South Caucasus and the return
of the occupied Azerbaijani lands seem to me very vague.