By Armida Barseghyan
War or peace? This eternal question is the present-day concern of Ilham Aliyev, President of the neighboring country Azerbaijan, who is faced with a dilemma between peace talks within the OSCE Minsk Group and his own bellicose statements.
Outside Azerbaijan, Aliyev goes on stating his readiness for a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, whereas inside his country he keeps on surprising the entire world by stating his intention to conquer “historical Azerbaijani lands” – from Karabakh to the “Erivan Khanate.”
“The equipment, arms and ammunition we are purchasing from abroad meet the most modern standards. The cutting-edge air defense units have been purchased. Our army has the most powerful artillery. The precision and extremely destructive missile weaponry, transport helicopters and gunships, combat aircraft and armored vehicles, tanks – all that is the Azerbaijani army’s potential. At present, Azerbaijan’s army is capable of destroying any target in Nagorno-Karabakh. Both we and the Azerbaijani people know it, and the enemy must know it as well,” Aliyev says.
Sabre-rattling is bad form, especially on the part of a president when he opens his mouth. However, Aliyev is hardly watching his mouth in his attempts to divert the Azerbaijani society’s attention from the domestic political problems. His priority is boasting, deceiving, intimidating.
However, he fails to remember two important facts: first, his permanent militant rhetoric is keeping the Armenian army on full alert, the opposite to fear; secondly, this rhetoric makes statesman and politician Ilham Aliyev a marked man. No diplomat would seriously take this double-dealing or believe Aliyev’s claims about his readiness to sign a peace agreement with Armenians – “fascists, enemies, a military junta.”
Rhetoric is a wonderful thing. Neighboring Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili makes the following statements on his country’s conflicts:
“I would like to once again address our Abkhaz and Ossetian brothers. We are children of one land. We are going though one pain and we must move forward to the future together.”
According to him, Georgia’s desire is restoring confidence in relations with Abkhazians and Ossetians after “all of us have carried the heavy burden of the past” and “committed gross blunders.” Official Azerbaijan’s rhetoric, as compared to Georgia’s, sounds barbaric indeed. And it is amid the Armenian president’s repeated statements that “the Azerbaijani people is not the Armenian people’s enemy.” In Azerbaijan, however, threats, statements on war and annihilation of Armenians feature each official speech.
And, abstracting from your being an Armenian, looking at the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from an outsider’s viewpoint and listening to Aliyev’s rhetoric, one would easily understand the Karabakh Armenians, who are unwilling to have anything in common with Azerbaijan. No arguments are needed. They are all in the Azerbaijani president’s official speeches. He never misses a chance to say to Armenians, “I will kill you!”
And when this militant rhetoric is accompanied by Azerbaijan heroizing Ramil Safarov, refusing to withdraw snipers from the Line of Contact and firing on the crash site of the Armenian helicopter, shot down by Azerbaijanis, to prevent access to the crew members’ bodies, you come to realize that any talks about peace with a person like Aliyev are out of the question.
As the saying is “they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Neighboring Azerbaijan’s president is now giving sword stokes on the Karabakh peace process – stroke after stroke. And the higher is his passion the greater is his awareness of the reality, which is sometimes as sharp as a sword and has boomerang effect.