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Aliyev Father And Son, Different Looks At The Conflict

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  • Aliyev Father And Son, Different Looks At The Conflict


    Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, Italy
    March 29 2013

    Giorgio Comai
    29 March 2013

    In recent months, a number of incidents have taken tensions between
    Armenia and Azerbaijan to very high levels. On the Azeri side,
    the rhetoric is more and more explicitly anti-Armenian and warlike,
    as clearly exemplified by the Safarov case and the story of writer
    Akram Aylisli. Yet, things have not always been such.

    As reminded by Arzu Geybullayeva in a recent article, Heydar Aliyev,
    father of current president Ilham, used to welcome Armenian journalists
    with overall benevolent words. Here is an excerpt of a speech by
    Heydar Aliyev, pronounced in the presence of Armenian and Georgian
    journalists on July 1st, 1999:

    Unfortunately, the conflict that took place in 1988 in the period of
    Soviet Union caused difficulties and relations between Armenia and
    Azerbaijan that have never existed before in the history. If we look at
    the history we can see that there were conflicts between Armenians and
    Azerbaijanis on different levels. They caused victims and bloodshed,
    however, later on this conflict was solved and the peaceful situation
    was restored. For example, let`s take the event of 1905 or 1918, some
    years later the relationships were resumed, people became friends and
    the bad was forgotten. That is clear and natural. People don`t want
    bad things, they want good ones. This is not the case of only Armenia
    and Azerbaijan. Let`s recall how many countries were engaged in the
    World War II and how severe was the war between Russia, the Soviet
    Union and Germany. And now look how perfect relationships they have
    now. One can say the same words about many European countries that
    have been fighting for many decades. All this was left in the past,
    now they have friendly relationships, the European Union was even
    established in Europe, they keep integrating and approaching.


    We adhere the peaceful settlement of the conflict. I think that
    we will find the way of settlement of the conflict and it will
    be in conformity with interests of both Armenia and Azerbaijan. I
    don`t think that Armenia and Azerbaijan will always be in conflict
    situation. I don`t think so. Because the history proves that it is not
    possible. [...] However, not only Azerbaijan suffered losses, Armenia
    had losses as well, there are handicapped people in Armenia too.

    Therefore, it is necessary to establish the atmosphere of trust in
    order to go towards peace and settle the conflict peacefully.

    Heydar Aliyev continued by stating that the journalists of the two
    countries could have a particularly important role in this process,
    and saluted the encounter that had taken place on that occasion.

    I quote now an excerpt from a recent speech by President Ilham
    Aliyev, son of Heydar, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary
    of the founding of the Azeri ruling party, the New Azerbaijan Party
    (extended passages of the speech were posted in a series of tweets
    on the Azeri president's Twitter channel).

    The main focus of our foreign policy is the resolution of the
    Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We will continue
    our efforts. I want to reiterate that our position is very firm, it
    is based on international law, history, justice and on our growing
    strength. We are conducting talks and at the same time building up
    our military strength.

    The gap between Armenia and Azerbaijan is already very large and keeps
    expanding day by day. Azerbaijan grows stronger and more powerful by
    the year, while Armenia weakens and declines every year. Evidence of
    this is the mass exodus of people from Armenia to other countries.

    We will continue our efforts to isolate Armenia. This policy is
    working. We see its results. We will continue to expose Armenia's
    aggressive policy in all international organizations. The number of
    our friends in the world is growing. A growing number of countries
    want to cooperate with us. We have started to invest in various areas
    in foreign countries. This is a new process. We will step it up. Thus,
    our political and economic relations with all countries of the world
    will become even stronger in the future. Three countries have already
    officially recognized the Khojaly genocide as an act of genocide. This
    process has already begun and will be continued. We must ensure that
    as many countries as possible recognize Khojaly as an act of genocide.

    So from a medium- and long-term perspective, the restoration of
    Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is beyond doubt. Neither we nor the
    mediators involved in the matter have any doubts about that. That is
    why we believe that international mediators have been more active in
    addressing the issue lately. Everyone knows that the growing political,
    economic and military power of Azerbaijan will lead to a complete
    resolution of the issue in favor of Azerbaijan.

    I want to reiterate that we are involved in negotiations. But along
    with that, we take all other steps and are ready for all the other
    options. I repeat that Azerbaijan has strong legal, historical and
    political grounds. I have no doubt that Azerbaijan will restore its
    territorial integrity. The solution to this problem is possible on the
    basis of these principles. [...] There are such forces - pro-Armenian,
    anti-Azerbaijani and Islamophobic forces which can't come to terms
    with our success and development. [...]

    Our main enemy is the Armenian lobby. I have often talked about it, I
    want to say it again without fearing anyone - our enemy is the Armenian
    lobby. Because Armenia as a country is of no value. It is actually a
    colony, an outpost run from abroad, a territory artificially created
    on ancient Azerbaijani lands.

    Aliyev does not hide the fact that Azerbaijan is strengthening its
    military power and trying to isolate Armenia, which he calls "a country
    of no value", suggesting also that the territory of contemporary
    Armenia is historically Azeri - a theme that Aliyev has brought up
    also in a speech a few days ago: "the Armenian state was established
    on lands that are historically Azeri. The Khanate of Yerevan, Zangezur,
    and Geycha [Sevan] - these lands are all historically ours".

    No sign of the need for a reconciliation process, of an agreement
    that satisfies both countries, of the inevitability of peace and
    friendship between two neighbouring peoples that characterized the
    speech of Aliyev father in 1999.

    I quoted two excerpts from public speeches by Ilham and Heydar Aliyev,
    separated by over 10 years. These are individual speeches in different
    contexts that, as meaningful as they may be, certainly cannot reflect
    the complexity of the Aliyevs' approach towards the Armenian-Azeri
    conflict under their presidencies.

    They do, however, signal that something has changed. The rhetoric
    of Aliyev father seems remarkably conciliatory and pacific compared
    to his son's. Between father and son, with regard to the approach to
    the issue of Nagorno Karabakh, something really has changed.