Situation in the region after the Second Karabakh war
By Shahin Abdullayev
On February 26, President Ilham Aliyev held a press conference for local and foreign media representatives.
The main goal of the press conference, which lasted for more than four hours, was to clarify the position of Azerbaijan on the key issues, particularly on the postwar situation in the region after the Second Karabakh War. Answering the question about the ongoing political developments in Armenia, President Ilham Aliyev said that Baku does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
“There is a complete crisis in Armenia now.
I would not like to comment on their domestic developments.
We never interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs, especially in sensitive moments like this,” President Ilham Aliyev said, adding that “I would not want to go deep into the matter of the situation in Armenia.
Certain political groups in Armenia may misuse what I say.
They should resolve their problems on their own.
But surely, if we take into account that it is a neighbouring country and a war was just over, we cannot stay indifferent to the situation in Armenia.
We are closely following the situation”.
At the same time, President Ilham Aliyev underscored the fact that Armenia’s previous and incumbent governments were responsible for the current political crisis.
“Kocharyan Sargsyan junta dragged Armenia to an abyss and crisis for 20 years.
The country has practically lost all the outlines of independence.
It resembles a colony.
The main reason for this is the occupation policy because the longer they tried to keep our lands under occupation, the more profoundly dependent they became,” the president added.
Whether the political crisis in Armenia would affect the implementation of the November peace deal, President Ilham Aliyev noted that “I am not concerned that any change in Armenia can have an impact on the implementation of the declaration.
First, because it is already an officially signed document.
Second, because there is the Russian president’s signature under it...
Will Armenia ever dare to treat like this the Russian president’s signature? The thing is that there is the Russian president’s signature there and he acts as the guarantor of this document”.
“I believe no matter who comes to power in Armenia, any attempts to hinder the implementation of the 10 November declaration will be very harmful to that country.
I have already mentioned President Putin’s remark that this could be suicide for them. The situation will be much worse than today,” the president added.
Touching upon the issue of creating sustainable peace and security in the region, President Ilham Aliyev noted that the only way to do this is through collaboration, adding that Azerbaijan’s goal is to build back communications in a trilateral way – together with Armenia and Russia, create the Zangazur corridor – a railway which will link Azerbaijan’s main part with its exclave Nakhchivan via the southern part of Armenia – and remove all transport hurdles.
The realization of this plan will help Armenia as well.
President Ilham Aliyev noted that the government has already begun to implement the “smart village” project in three villages of Zangilan district – Aghali 1, Aghali 2 and Ahgali 3 – for 1000 people at the initial stage, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
At the same time, President Ilham pointed out that the return to the cities like Aghdam will take time, but the government has mobilized all its resources and works hard to rebuild those territories as soon as possible. Simultaneously, a new international airport is getting built-in Fuzuli, which is expected to be operational this year.
At the same time, there are plans to build international airports in Lachin and Zangilan as well since Zangilan is expected to become an important logistical centre and transport hub.
Along with the airport, two highways to the city of Shusha are also getting constructed.
One of them named the “Road of Victory” by President Ilham Aliyev, is the route along which Azerbaijan’s Special Forces marched to Shusha – through forests and valleys.
And the other highway will provide direct access from the Fuzuli airport.
Another issue touched upon by President Ilham Aliyev during the press conference was the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine nationalism.
Azerbaijan has spent almost 2 billion manats ($1.16bn) last year to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
A larger part of the money was paid to medical workers and as social allowances.
The quarantine regime was quite effective and with a little over 200,000, Azerbaijan has had a relatively low level of those who have been infected with the coronavirus.
To date, there are just over 2,000 active patients.
Since Azerbaijan managed to establish more than 10 new modular hospitals and also since there has been a positive dynamic between the number of those infected and those recovering in favour of the latter in the last two months, the situation with the coronavirus has been under control from the very beginning of the pandemic.
Azerbaijan has also become the first country in the South Caucasus to start vaccination.
Azerbaijan started vaccination with the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine on 18 January, just a month after vaccination began in Europe.
With 4 million doses contracted, 15,000- 20,000 people are vaccinated every day in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has also joined the COVAX system from the very beginning and should receive other vaccines such as AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech through it.
Since Russian companies are the distributors of the AstraZeneca vaccine in post-Soviet republics, Azerbaijan has also signed relevant documents with the Russian side for the supply of this vaccine to Azerbaijan on the very first day of distribution.
This also applies to the Sputnik vaccine.
On Azerbaijan’s initiative, supported by more than 150 countries, a special session of the UN General Assembly dedicated to COVID-19 was held in December last year. One of the issues raised by Azerbaijan was the fair distribution of vaccines among countries of the world so that there would be no protectionism or nationalism in this issue.
President Ilham Aliyev noted that “despite all the solidarity statements, about the joint struggle against this scourge, we are seeing the exact opposite.
Some countries, for example, have purchased three to four times more vaccines than they need...
Which means that someone will not have enough.
And they don’t even need them,” adding that “they speak out for equality, for human rights, for democracy, but in practice, they infringe on the rights of millions of people, those living in poor countries and unable to afford it.
Even if they could afford it, they would simply have no access to it”.
President Ilham Aliyev also noted that he raised this issue at the special session of the UN General Assembly, and it was actively discussed within the framework of the Non-Aligned Movement as well.
President Ilham Aliyev noted that “in this matter, we are showing integrity both in our national capacity and as a country that currently chairs the second-largest international structure in the world after the UN”.
Shahin Abdullayev is Azerbaijan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia