Our Analytics 11 october — 11:00

Why does Azerbaijan need truce with Armenia? (Main topic)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

Probably, the Azerbaijani people are one of the few in the world who accepted the news of the signing of a humanitarian truce with sadness. All last night, all of Azerbaijan, with bated breath, was looking forward to the end of the negotiations between Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers - Bayramov and Mnatsakanyan. There were too great hopes that the negotiations would break down. Isn't it strange?

And this is not a manifestation of national revanchism. Several generations, exhausted by the endless peacekeeping process, squeezed in the grip of the amorphous Minsk Group, have lost hope for a just peace through negotiations. And the Azerbaijanis are easy to understand. The nerves are too bared and the sense of national dignity is wounded. Quarter-century of fruitless negotiations.

An unprecedented event in recent political history.

Shocking patriotic sentiments reign in Azerbaijan for the first time in a quarter of a century

What's next? A very fragile humanitarian truce, regulated by the new Moscow protocol, could break down at any moment. In the trenches dividing the two countries, soldiers sit, proudly gazing into the eyes of death. For them - the generation of tent cities and endless war - negotiations are a Utopian chance for lasting peace. The hope for just peace was based on an ineradicable belief in a just war. The Bishkek process suffered a fiasco, because two of the three sides - the Armenian one and the mediators - worked to preserve the conflict. And the conservation was expressed in the gradual inculcation of a hopeless situation of neither war nor peace. The status quo, which is perverse for Azerbaijan, could only be broken by a just war. Ilham Aliyev decided to break all plans for the evolutionary and systematic tearing of Karabakh away from Azerbaijan. For this is not the case when a bad peace is better than a good quarrel. There was no bad peace. Since the days of prehistoric Bishkek, there has been an active information and cold political war. And sometimes they gave up their nerves, and there were permanent outbreaks of hostilities.

The humanitarian truce, born after lengthy and painful negotiations at Lavrov's, drew a line under the 'Bishkek era.' Azerbaijan openly outlined its irreconcilable and uncompromising position: a durable, long-term and just peace. The twelve-day merciless and destructive in its scale war became an object lesson for the entire political establishment in Armenia, as well as for the entire Armenian people: Azerbaijan will not accept the loss of its territories. Azerbaijan rejected the frozen conflict model.

Karabakh did not become the second Golan Heights, it is a bleeding wound, historical memory and national expression. Karabakh is the basic value of the entire new Azerbaijani ideology. Therefore, with such ease, with a smile on their face, the Azerbaijanis went to their deaths. There is no more desirable dream for a modern Azerbaijani youth than to die for Karabakh. And the Armenians for the first time realised, that without a just decision, their life would turn into a living hell, just as the fate of future generations in the South Caucasus would hang in the balance. Even the Camp David model of peace in exchange of territories will not work here. At stake here is the fate and life of entire generations in exchange for territory. For 26 long-awaited years, land has become an irrefutable value. The dream was too desirable and unrealisable.

Death for Karabakh is a passionate and desired dream for a young Azerbaijani

For the first time in a quarter century, Azerbaijan began to determine the rules of the game. Dictate its legal and fair conditions, demanding the de-occupation of the captured lands. And this is despite the unprecedented political and diplomatic pressure on Azerbaijan from the whole motley coalition of countries.

Divided into two camps - opponents and supporters of a humanitarian truce - Azerbaijanis are engaged in fierce disputes over the main issue of the national agenda: was it worth stopping? Both have their own truth.

However, Azerbaijan faced the main task: to try to extract diplomatic dividends from military successes. And leave Pashinyan an open door. Where he can return. Refusing to sign an indefinite humanitarian truce, Azerbaijan would lose not only its military superiority, but also arouse mistrust of the world community.

At one time, the signing of the Bishkek Protocol against the backdrop of a rapid counteroffensive by the Azerbaijani Army in the southern direction caused equally fierce disputes. However, the arguments of the authorities and politicians who assumed the responsibility of signing a non-binding ceasefire protocol have stood the test of time itself. The main argument of the authorities proceeded from the understanding that the formal protocol does not impose special obligations on Azerbaijan to comply with the ceasefire regime. At least twice, the Azerbaijani Army has resorted to large-scale hostilities. That is, in terms of its significance, the Bishkek Protocol was a much more politically responsible and weighty legal document signed by the heads of parliaments and defence ministers of the belligerent countries. The new protocol is just a humanitarian action agreed by the foreign ministers. A gentlemen's agreement non-binding for defence departments and governments. No more than that.

In terms of its significance, the 'Moscow Protocol' is inferior even to the formal 'Bishkek Agreement'

Plus, the troops are still face to face. There is no barrier. Rejected is the ghostly idea of bringing in peacekeepers or blue helmets. War can break out at any moment. But ... taking advantage of its natural right of strength, Azerbaijan generously gave Yerevan a path for diplomatic manoeuvre. Return to the sought-after settlement model adopted by all Pashinyan's predecessors - the 'Madrid principles,' which imply a phased solution to the conflict. First - the withdrawal of troops from the occupied territories, then - the determination of the status of the mountainous part of Karabakh. Azerbaijan insists on the transition to the substantive part of the negotiations. Armenia should present to Azerbaijan and the Minsk Group co-chairs a concrete plan and a clear timetable for the withdrawal of the occupation forces.

What will happen if prudence fails Armenia again, and it does not agree to withdraw its troops from the occupied Azerbaijani cities and regions? The answer is obvious - war will break out. In a matter of days, Armenia has suffered billions of dollars in losses - the impoverished country will have to restore the military-civilian infrastructure in the whole region. That is, in a matter of days, Azerbaijan returned Armenia to its original position. To 1994. All 26 years of active construction and revival of the disputed territory have gone down the drain. Now they have to look for money again and build. And what will happen if a war breaks out in Karabakh again, or rather wars? Again destruction and darkness?! To build and create so that in an instant everything collapses again?!

Moreover, as a result of the twelve-day war, Azerbaijan dispelled the stereotype about the so-called line of contact of troops in Karabakh. The conventional 'demarcation line' has been destroyed. On the battlefields, a new balance of forces emerged. We must understand and accept the new situation. And this is a very difficult psychological test for Armenia.

Finally, as a result of a successful military operation, the Azerbaijani Army deployed not only in areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh, but also began to liberate important strategic heights and settlements in the mountainous part itself. Talish and Madagiz are the keys to Agdere (Mardakert), and the busy Hadrut is the door to the centre of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Hadrut is the door to Nagorno-Karabakh opened by Azerbaijani soldiers

During the first Karabakh war, there was a byword: whoever controls Hadrut, controls the whole of Karabakh. This mountainous region is too strategic in nature, opening the way to Khankendi and Shusha, as well as providing absolute superiority over the lowland Karabakh.

For all these significant losses and military failures, Pashinyan will have to answer to the protest Armenian society, which has yet to rethink the recent September collapse. Memories are still fresh of how the offensive defeat in the April war turned into internal cataclysms and political roar for ex-President Serzh Sargsyan. Several thousand hectares of land and one Lele-tepe predetermined the fate of Serzh Sargsyan, provoking a military revolt of Sasna Tsrer.

Pashinyan will have to answer. Before his own people!

And now is the loss of two districts, the Murovdag ridge - the road to Kelbajar, strategic positions in Agdere (Mardakert), villages in the Fuzuli district... Not to mention the multibillion-dollar damage inflicted on the economy and the military-industrial complex of Armenia. Critical voices are already being heard in Armenia that Pashinyan's predecessors managed to restrain Azerbaijan, but the irresponsible and adventurous rhetoric of an inexperienced politician, picked up by crowds from the street, turned into colossal losses for the country. And this is still the beginning, because in moments of danger the Armenian society is inclined to consolidate against an external enemy, not exaggerating internal strife and contradictions.

And the humanitarian truce provides a brilliant chance for Pashinyan's opponents to tell the Armenian people about all the vicissitudes and scale of losses and failures during the 12 days of the war...

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