ArmInfo. On the margins of the 52nd meeting of the PABSEC General Assembly, held in Yerevan from November 27 to 28, ArmInfo correspondent talked with the Secretary General of the organization representing Azerbaijan, Asaf Hajiyev, about the Karabakh conflict, regional problems and the work of the organization.
Mr. Hajiyev, how do you see the solution of the Karabakh issue? Do you consider the format of the OSCE Minsk Group optimal, or do you see other alternatives?
To be honest, I believe that it is impossible to concentrate attention exclusively on the format of the OSCE Minsk Group. Of course, the Minsk Group has been engaged in this conflict for more than 25 years, but since then the issue has not gotten off the ground. So we must look for alternatives. They come to every country and then state that "this is a matter of two countries." And if this is a matter of two countries, then why do you need us?
Yes, this is a matter of two countries. Tolstoy has good words: "All happy families are the same, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." All conflicts are different, but there must be one principle for the conflict to get off the ground. This principle, in my opinion, should be a principle of territorial integrity. And within the framework of this principle, realize everything you want, even though the right of a nation to self-determination, at least any other right. Because if there is no main principle, this issue will be endlessly discussed. All the time they are talking about compromises, but Azerbaijan has lost 20% of its territories, what other compromise could there be? Lose 20 more?
We have a million refugees. What do we get another million. This issue was discussed as early as 1920, when it was decided that Nagorno-Karabakh should become part of Azerbaijan. After the establishment of Soviet power there was a similar decision of the Caucasus Bureau; in the USSR, Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan. And why should Karabakh leave its composition today? Because Armenians live there? I was recently in the USA and there is a village called "Little Armenia". Now, if the people living there want autonomy to become an independent state, how do you think the US authorities will react to this, will they be given autonomy? We saw similar processes in Canada, Spain, and how did it all end? And why, in those cases, everything must be stopped, but here it is necessary to wait 25 years.
In fact, this is a tragedy of two peoples. After all, so many people died, economic growth retarded, people began to live worse, families lost breadwinners. Do you really think that's good? The OSCE MG Chairs should think about it. But in fact, it does not concern them, and concerns us. We all lost our relatives, many lost our homes, they did not lose them. I'm not talking about who is more, who is less. This is not the case, the death of one person is already a tragedy, and here both countries have suffered very significant casualties. This issue should be resolved within the framework of territorial integrity, it is within this framework that the rights of the Armenian people must be realized. And then, after all, we had lived together for centuries, had problems, were not, why did it suddenly become so? After all, there were many joint marriages, and what should these children do? Now about 30,000 Armenians live in the territory of Azerbaijan, and there is not a single Azerbaijani in the territory of Armenia. I think it is worth resolving the conflict within the framework of the Aland Islands analogy. This is the territory of Finland, but the Swedes live there. They live in their cultural values, but live in Finland, and there are no problems.
How do you think regional conflicts hinder the PABSEC activity?
Yes, of course, conflicts inhibit the work of the PABSEC, there are problems in the region that need to be addressed. Of course, the purpose of the PABSEC is not to resolve conflicts, however, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic several times adopted declarations with which not all countries agreed, but which were nevertheless adopted, emphasizing the importance of solving problems in line with the territorial integrity of countries. It clearly states that territorial integrity is the way to solve problems, because there is the Helsinki Agreement, where 3 principles are laid down - peaceful solution, territorial integrity and the right of peoples to self-determination.
No one in the world is against peaceful solutions to problems. If everyone unconditionally and without any preconditions accepts the principle of the right of a nation to self-determination, then in the world there will be a huge number of small states that will fight each other. "This means the end of the world. However, within the framework of territorial integrity, the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination can be implemented. And there are already such examples in the world, as I mentioned, the Aland Islands.
As you understand, if some countries do not cooperate with each other, then this limits the activities of the PABSEC. For example, in our organization there are 12 countries and 7 conflicts. Take at least yesterday's incident, when the conflict between Russia and Ukraine was condemned, but there are other conflicts as well. There is a problem of Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia. As a result, there is no trade relationship between the two countries. Because the Azerbaijani territories are under occupation, and until the Armenian military leaves these territories, Baku's position is such that cooperation is out of the question. The position of Azerbaijan can be understood as millions of people have left their homes.
Today, there are 65 million refugees in the world, which means that among 110 people there is one refugee. If we take our region Black Sea, then among 60 people 1 refugee. If we take only Azerbaijan, then among 9 people there is 1 refugee. This issue should be the focus of attention of the world community, and should be resolved. After all, historically, we are neighbors, and no one can change this. And the example of the Aland Islands is an excellent example of how, within the framework of territorial values, the right of peoples to self-determination is exercised.
How do you evaluate the work of the PABSEC meeting in Yerevan?
The PABSEC meetings were held at a very high level. I want to note that from year to year the organization improves its work. Over the past few years, the PABSEC has received observer status in one of the largest parliamentary assemblies of the world - in the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, we also received the status of associate member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which includes almost all world parliaments, in addition, we received observer status in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. This suggests that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation is already recognized in the international arena. This gives us the opportunity to participate in work, speak, talk about problems in the region, and how to cooperate. After all, the purpose of our assembly is economic cooperation between countries, and if there is no cooperation between countries, then there can be no dialogue.
On the other hand, the Black Sea region is one of the most important regions of the world, rich in energy resources. After all, it is from our region that oil and gas from the Caspian and Black Seas is delivered to world markets. An example is the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, as well as the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzrum gas pipeline, the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, which will allow to deliver goods from China to Europe not in a month, as it was before, but in a week, has recently been completed. The region is the intersection of the world's transport arteries, such as the Silk Road, the Northern Route, and at the same time it plays the role of a bridge between Europe and Asia.
How do you explain the problem related to the fact that yesterday four delegations (Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine - Ed.) Refused medals with which the Chairman of the National Assembly Ara Babloyan wanted to award them in honor of the 25th anniversary of the PABSEC? There is a point of view that the whole thing was that the meeting was held precisely in Armenia, and there is a subtle political background that slips here?
I heard that in the Armenian press there appeared information that this issue is related to the secretariat. I want to remind you that we have nothing to do with medals and awards. We have no right to award them, nor, moreover, ask to be taken away from someone. This is done by the decree of the chairman of the PABSEC; this has nothing to do with the secretariat.
In the speech of the head of the Azerbaijani delegation, it was said that in this situation there is no political context. I think that when the issue of medals was discussed, it was said there that they are awarded to persons who made a serious contribution to the development of the PABSEC, and not just the heads of delegations, especially since our head was appointed recently. There are, for example, a lot of examples of worthy people, for example, Nikolay Kolomoitsev from the Russian delegation, who has worked in the organization for 20 years. This contribution is not awarded to delegations, but to specific people. For example, during a meeting in Istanbul, at which 9 countries participated in the 14 speakers (12 countries are members of the PABSEC, but in some countries the parliament consists of 2 chambers - Ed.) It was the speakers who were awarded the medals, and here, things were different.