Former US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Matthew Bryza's interview to APA
– How do you evaluate the current military-political situation in connection with the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
– Prime minister Pashinyan seems to have been pressured into walking away from the Madrid principles and all of the points we have negotiated for years – co-chairs and of course the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia. He started taking very provocative steps which all the Azerbaijani viewers know I mean for saying that “Nagorno Karabakh is Armenia”, then he said that we need a totally new approach, then he said that the Madrid principles are no longer valid. Then we had these actions of the so-called president of Nagorno Karabakh taking his office to Shusha and the announcement that the so-called parliament will move to Shusha.
I think probably you know having spent a lot of time with President Aliyev in these discussions in the past probably he came to the conclusion well it what he said actually – a couple of weeks ago on 15th of September that these negotiations are pointless. And that means because Azerbaijan has a duty its government to recover its territory – he has got only one option and that is the use of force. So, I think the military operation – I don't know who started it – nobody may ever know, right? But I know that the two sides have been moving armor and heavy weapons towards the line of contact since the July events. And it seems my assessment of the ongoing operations it seems Azerbaijan has recovered some territory in an unprecedented way including the city of Fuzuli well as villages there as well as high ground that will make it potentially very difficult to bring supplies into Nagorno Karabakh from Armenia. So those seem like pretty serious military gains and the question is what amount of territory to be recover will be sufficient from the perspective of the people of Azerbaijan.
– How do you think, what are main differences between the current military operations compared to the fighting in April 2016?
– This is much. Bigger much larger scale. The unprecedented use of heavy weapons. I think another difference is the unmanned aerial vehicles I have seen video footage and can say that is different.Another difference is that it seems that the Azerbaijani troops will continue the counterattack and seem to have a specific purpose. This military operation is different from the skirmishes, the duration of which is unknown. Of course, in April 2016, the important Lalatapa heights were taken back. But this time, it seems that the operation is aimed at returning a number of territories. Another point I saw on social media was that young Armenians, who said they had no military training, were gathered by the police while walking in the city and sent directly to the front. But they have no military training, no weapons, they look horrified. This gives me reason to say that Armenia is concerned that it does not have enough forces to continue the war. This, of course, is a different situation from the April fighting. The last difference is due to two factors. The first is Turkey's demonstrative support for Azerbaijan, and the other is Russia's neutrality.
– Azerbaijan calls this military operation a coercion of peace. What can you say in this regard?
– I have no idea exactly why it is called that, perhaps because the Azerbaijani people feel that a real internal, long-term military-political peace will never exist in a period when Azerbaijan takes its territories from it or is occupied by someone else. will not be possible. Perhaps in this sense, transactions are called that. I would like to bring to your attention another interesting point that I consider interesting in terms of word usage and word choice. Today, I saw a statement by the US Congress condemning Azerbaijan, initiated by members of the Armenian diaspora in California. In this statement, they called Azerbaijan aggressive, but not illegal. Because the return of their territories is not illegal, but it is confirmed by law - to return the territories.
– How do you think the success on the battlefield will affect Azerbaijan's position if the talks are resumed?
– It is impossible to talk about it at the moment. Because Azerbaijan's success on the battlefield forces Armenia to counterattack. I think that Pashinyan will be weaker if Azerbaijan fully reclaims its territories, and it is unknown whether he will suffer politically. Therefore, the question is how strong is the Armenian army and will Russia intervene and help? My opinion is that it will not. Because Russia, as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, knows that the fighting is taking place on the territory of Azerbaijan. Therefore, Azerbaijan returns and stops, for example, Fizuli and Jabrayil regions - of course, this is not something I know - it is strengthened here, then it will create a dramatic change in the position of Azerbaijan. At the same time, the map of the territories held by Azerbaijan is changing, which gives Azerbaijan a stronger position in the negotiations. I must also say that the discussions will take place again. As Karl von Clausewitz, one of the most famous military and political figures of the 19th century, put it: "War is a continuation of politics by other means." Lenin, on the other hand, argued that politics was a continuation of the war by other means. I think von Clausewitz is right. Therefore, there will be a new political stage, and the military stage is simply a preparation for the next round of talks. This is how diplomacy works. The threat of force is in fact a diplomatic tool.
– Yesterday French President Emmanuel Macron while in his visit to Latvia said that turkey’s warlike rhetoric encourages Azerbaijan to "reconquer" Nagorno Karabakh. How do you assess such a statement from the leader of a co-chair country?
– This statement was shocking. First of all, because, as you mentioned, he is the leader of the country that is the co-chair of the Minsk Group. He must know the legal status. What is legal is that this is the territory of Azerbaijan. Secondly, because he spoke like a successor, like an imperial overlord. It is as if Azerbaijan cannot make its own decisions. It is as if Azerbaijan cannot make a sovereign decision to counterattack and must be encouraged or supported by Turkey. This is indeed arrogance. I don't think that's true. But I am sure that everyone in Azerbaijan is happy with Turkey's support, but you know that Azerbaijan can make its own decisions.
– So you think that Macron made such a statement without knowing the legal basis of the conflict?
– I say that I was shocked by what he said, because he should have known the legal context. Another factor is that he has been fighting President Erdogan for more than a year. As you probably remember, there were talks between President Erdogan and US President Donald Trump in August last year, and Trump did not object to the actions of the Turkish military in northern Syria. At the same time, Macron said that Turkey does not act as a NATO ally. Macron has been attacking Erdogan throughout the wars in Syria and Libya. As we know, in Libya, France openly supports Haftar, while Turkey stands by the UN-recognized legal government. According to Macron's statements, another point that makes me sad is that Turkey is the only western country, the only country that sent its troops to the battlefield in Idlib and fought to stop the Russian and Syrian regimes. Thus, it probably saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians. In this case, drones and so on. used highly integrated military tactics, including For this, NATO should rejoice. In fact, Macron should thank Turkey for saving the lives of these people. Instead, it is attacking Turkey for political reasons, and now these attacks continue against Azerbaijan.
– Mr. Bryza, there are 4 unfulfilled UN resolutions. Why doesn't anyone want to talk about these resolutions today?
– People talk. I am very glad that today I saw the news for the first time on CNN International, the BBC and Al Jazera, and it was said that Nagorno-Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan, they talked about UN resolutions. Of course, it is not enough to just talk about these resolutions, but this is just the beginning. This shows that Azerbaijan is now doing the right thing in its diplomacy, and if it does not allow excessive military action, it can change the traditional one-sided view formed by the Armenian lobby in the West.
– My questions are over. Do you have another word that I did not ask about this issue?
– I pray for everyone. Let these battles end soon. After that, he will return to diplomatic activity. I hope that both sides will show the same wisdom as returning to the "Madrid Principles" and agreements reached in January and July 2009. Because this is the only logical solution. Because all other versions have been tested or not acceptable for either Azerbaijan or Armenia. Prime Minister Pashinyan must return to the "Madrid Principles".