An article headlined “A historic opportunity for sustainable peace” has been published in the Slovenian daily “Delo”.

The article contains an interview with Elchin Amirbayov, the special envoy of the President of Azerbaijan.

In the interview, Elchin Amirbayov first spoke about the high-level development of bilateral relations and political dialogue between Azerbaijan and Slovenia in various fields, the meetings he had held while on a visit to Slovenia, and his proposal to set up an intergovernmental working group for the further development of relations in the future. It was also pointed out that the economic relations between the two countries were not limited to the energy sector alone and had extensive potential. He noted that the relations between Slovenia, an important country of the European Union and a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council since January 1 this year, and Azerbaijan were also well developed within international organizations.

Answering the question about peace negotiations with Armenia, Elchin Amirbayov spoke about the history of the conflict and said that Azerbaijan had given preference to negotiations for decades and explored all diplomatic avenues to settle the conflict peacefully. Although the Azerbaijani side demanded the implementation of the well-known resolutions of the UN Security Council, Armenia turned a blind eye to them and the international community and mediators failed to put pressure on it. After all the diplomatic efforts had been exhausted, it became clear that Armenia did not want to vacate the occupied Azerbaijani territories of its own accord, that the international community ignored the issue, while the mediators believed that their duty was only to maintain the status quo for as long as possible and prevent the flare-up of the conflict.

He pointed out that further Armenian provocations in the direction of legitimizing the occupation resulted in Azerbaijan deciding to exercise its right to self-defense based on international law and liberating the territories of Azerbaijan from the occupation in 2020, forcing Armenia to negotiate a final peace agreement. However, over the past period, the Armenians tried to renew the tactics of evading negotiations and delaying the process. This, in turn, resulted in Azerbaijan regaining full control of its territories in September last year. At present, Azerbaijan has overcome many obstacles to the conclusion of peace, and there is a historic opportunity to bring lasting peace to the region. Although the conflict is over, peace has not yet been achieved. Therefore, the current goal is to convince Armenia to sign a peace treaty, open the borders and start diplomatic relations. Time will tell whether the two countries will ever be friends, but the time has come to live as neighbors.

Referring to the process of negotiations, the Azerbaijani official said that the Armenian government should keep its promises and adapt its national legislation to international law. Although Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said that he respects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan with Karabakh being its integral part, it is still stated in the Armenian constitution that this territory is a part of the Armenian state. At the same time, Armenia must withdraw its army from eight Azerbaijani villages that are still under occupation. Likewise, if Armenia is interested in participating in regional development, communication with the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan should be restored.

Amirbayov pointed out that certain signals were given by the Armenian side after the last round of negotiations in Germany. In particular, they were going to make proposals on all the contentious points, but nothing happened due to the firing on the border in the last six weeks. This suggests that Nikol Pashinyan has decided to artificially delay the negotiations with the support of certain new international security guarantors that have emerged in the geopolitical confrontation. Since it has major countries and international organizations behind it, the Armenian side believes that it can delay the process and so the geopolitical situation in the region can change in its favor. Therefore, Armenia, is also trying to build up its military capabilities.

Among the current topics on the agenda, Elchin Amirbayov also touched upon the meeting of high-level representatives of the US and the European Union with the leadership of Armenia in Brussels on April 5 to “build up the economic sustainability” of Armenia, so to speak. He said that Armenia attempted to convince Baku that this meeting was not directed against Azerbaijan. Elchin Amirbayov noted that there were two problems with this approach. The first is the non-transparency of the process and the fact that the Azerbaijani side was not informed about it until the last minute. On the other hand, it is discrimination. A question may be asked: Why haven’t the same conditions and opportunities been created for Azerbaijan? Our position is that such security and stability initiatives can be promoted by the European Union and the United States only in a regional format and that no discrimination should be allowed.

Talking about the essence of Armenian policy, the Azerbaijani official said that the Armenian strategy had always failed for a simple reason: it has always been based on mythology. The great Armenian myth was that they were invincible heroes. They have important allies who provided them with guarantees that nothing would happen to them in response to their violation of international law. Therefore, there is still a danger of repeating the same mistake now. Now the duty of the Armenian government is to make those seeking revenge understand that the stability and development of Armenia was not elsewhere, but here, in the region and with its close neighbors. We don’t want their territory, we just want them to forget what is on their mind. The geopolitical situation has changed a lot in the last two years, and Azerbaijan, which has a strong ally such as Turkiye, will never allow its territories to be occupied again.

In conclusion, speaking about Azerbaijan’s international political goals, Elchin Amirbayov said, “Our country has never knocked on the doors of any organization because we believe that it is necessary to have a good relationship with everyone, including NATO, with which we have a good relationship. Our view of security is not directly related to membership of any organization. In our opinion, it is best not to join any blocs. We have been at the forefront of this movement for four years and are trying to breathe new life into it. Because we believe that sometimes it is more important to have a large group of countries that are not part of any bloc.”