If the topic of territories is of interest to Azerbaijan, then Artsakh also has territories under Azerbaijani control: Ashot Ghoulyan
06 August 2018

The interview of the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Artsakh to Mr. Ghoulyan, what effect did the protests organized by MP Hayk Khanumyan have or can have on the public and domestic political life in Artsakh?

Ashot Ghoulyan: What has been undertaken at previous protests shows that only a small part of Artsakh society is interested in the ideas put forward by Hayk Khanumyan, and not only by him. We can say that the social active groups unite around themselves only their friends and relatives. I think one can blame Artsakh authorities for anything, but not for inadequate response to the situation.  The economic development of the country, the solution of social issues, lack of justice, human resource issues – these are issues around which some members of our society may find flaws. But no political electorate follows these assemblies. In my opinion, Hayk Khanumyan has the greatest advantage over social active groups as being an MP he has opportunity to raise such topics in the National Assembly. But, unfortunately, there was not a single legislative initiative, not a single proposal. Indeed, it’s up to him to decide. I would just like to note that in this sense Khanumyan had an advantage that could be used to raise any topic from the podium of the parliament, organize hearings, discussions. I would like to ask you to comment on the incident related to the destruction of the gravestone of Azerbaijani national hero Allahverdy Baghirov.

Ashot Ghoulyan: I think the reaction of our society is a little belated. The topic should have been discussed not during the process or its aftermath but before the placement of gravestone.  We speak about transparency but a significant part of our society is not aware how this idea was born or who is the author. If representatives of the opposition raise the issue of openness of the government, I think they should understand that it should concern not only the authorities but all responsible public figures. The fact that this happens in the current political realities, when Azerbaijan does not even hide its militarist claims, it may acquire a completely different meaning and interpretation. And this is not about tolerance. I think no one has a reason to express discontent with tolerance in the Artsakh society. Moreover, it is rather an adequate response at the moment, which the society in Artsakh shows, realizing that in such a situation we are talking perhaps about excessive tolerance. I have serious doubts that the participants in the process related to the installation of tombstone initially imagined that society could react in this way and that there would be such consequences. How do you feel about the statements made by public and political figures about the territorial concessions and the creation of an artificial “Armenian-Karabakhi” discourse.

Ashot Ghoulyan: All we know that once or twice a year such conversations occur. I’m sure they are conditioned by the lack of proper awareness about Artsakh people’s mood towards political, public and especially security issues. For us, this is not the land that can be given or not, but the territory that defends Artsakh from the first attacks. They were not on our military agenda. All these operations were planned and carried out only because Azerbaijan, after numerous failures, resumed military aggression against the Artsakh Republic. The party that violated the cease-fire and provoked the war is Azerbaijan, and every time we were forced to neutralize the firing points - that's the whole reality. In these territories, working with the soil, khachkars (cross-stone) can often be found. We have not appropriated anything illegally; we have not gone beyond the borders of our historical homeland. Only the people of the Republic of Artsakh can determine the line to which they can compromise, seeing the corresponding readiness from the opposite side.  By saying "compromise," do you mean territorial?

Ashot Ghoulyan: Today, Azerbaijan’s main interest in the negotiations is the topic of territories. The topic of territories cannot be completely and finally closed, since Artsakh Republic also has lost territories. If Azerbaijan is interested in making the topic of territories a material for constructive discussions, it must understand that this can only be discussed in the context of the occupation of Artsakh territories by Azerbaijan. Otherwise, the topic does not interest us at all.