Is Turkey back-pedalling on its bellicose statements about all sorts of support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? Can the Republic of Artsakh directly appeal to Russia for help bypassing Armenia? According to the administration of Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has no right to exist. How was Azerbaijan formed? Does Azerbaijan have the right to forcibly assimilate other peoples? Pravda.Ru asked these and other questions to Arsen Melik-Shakhnazarov, adviser to the Foreign Minister of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
"Against the backdrop of the current confrontation and the degree of armament, further military actions threaten to bring trouble for all the peoples of the region. Why is the current armed conflict so dangerous?"
"The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may get other countries involved. Turkey has already involved itself in it at its own will, judging from the recent statements from Turkish politicians. For example, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu immediately stated that Turkey sides with Azerbaijan both in the field of negotiations and on the battlefield."
"The Turks later said, though, that they are not there in terms of military presence, they meant moral support for Azerbaijan, but if Baku asks for help, they will be glad to provide it."
"This is common diplomacy."
"Or maybe Turkey was a little scared of the international reaction?"
"I don't think they were that scared. Turkey fears only real action and backpedal only in case of political-diplomatic and near-military, let's say, counteraction.
"We have seen all that in Syria, in Libya. The same is happening in relation to Cyprus and Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Armed clashes did not happen only in places, where the Turks had to deal with fierce opposition. Thus, their expansion in Syria was stopped, but at the same time, they fight in Libya."
"The government of your republic [Nagorno-Karabakh], as it appears does not want to turn to Putin to ask to intervene. Why do you have to wait for Armenia to decide to make such a move? Why don't Nagorno-Karabakh ask Russia to send Russian advisers or observers for a start?"
"This is a question for the leadership of the Artsakh Republic. There are no direct relations between Russia and Artsakh. Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan stated at once that he did not see any prospects for bringing peacekeepers into the conflict region."
"Pashinyan also said that Armenia needs to rebuild relations with Russia. What did he mean?"
"I don't know, this is a question for representatives of the Armenian leadership."
"Nevertheless, do you think that one can talk about a union state with Russia, including with the participation of Nagorno-Karabakh? What do you think about this initiative to create a new union state from post-Soviet countries?"
"They only talk about it in the press, but I have never heard anything like that either from Russian President Putin, or from any other Russian top official. It is always better to have good allies nearby, rather than a state structure made from artificially involved entities. In my personal opinion, the relations that exist between Russia and Armenia from the point of view of military-political partnership and strategic alliance are close to being as positive as they can be. They are not perfect, of course, but nothing is perfect in life."
"One can have an argument about that. We can say that about the relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan - they are close to being as positive as they can be at all levels - diplomatic, military, practical, financial ..."
"During the time of the collapse of the USSR, Heydar Aliyev Sr. used to say that Turkey and Azerbaijan were one nation, but two states. This is not entirely true, but there is a grain of truth in this. Azerbaijan was born with the help of Turkish bayonets in 1918, and the name for this quasi-republic was ripped off from the neighboring Iranian province, south of Araks.
"Denikin wrote very well in "Sketches of Russian Troubles" that everything in the Azerbaijan Republic was artificial, starting with the name that was taken from the neighboring Persian province. The point of all that was to create such a republic, kill and expel Christians from there, make it a branch of Turkey, and then make a crusade against the real Azerbaijan, which belonged to Iran throughout its life, and unite those territories under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire.
"Now they are trying to breathe another life into this pan-Turkic project again. Such technique had been used many times in our recent history. For example, Joseph Stalin, before attacking Finland, had established the sixteenth allied Karelo-Finnish Republic.
"Nobody says that Azerbaijan now has no right to exist. Yet, when an international republic is created, different peoples have to be represented and have their identity preserved, but all residents of Azerbaijan are now considered Azerbaijanis.
"Before 1937, there was no concept of "Azeri national" at all - they were referred to as the "Turks." The 1936 census of the population in the AzerbaijanSoviet Socialist Republic, which was subsequently recognised null and void, stated the following peoples: Turks, Russians, Armenians, Lezgins, Avars ... And now everyone, save for Russians and Armenians, who have their own states, are called Azerbaijanis ... Lezgins, Talysh and other peoples that wanted to preserve their identity were simply told that they were becoming Azerbaijanis. They had to adopt a new national identity, a new language and so on. This is forcible assimilation following the Turkishization in Turkey."