“Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev put an end to this issue once and for all”
Chairman of Committee for work with CIS countries of the Russian State Duma (lower chamber of parliament) Leonid Kalashnikov’s interview with ONA’s Moscow correspondent.
- Leonid Ivanovich, how do you assess signing of trilateral statement regarding Nagorno Garabagh by leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia? Do you think this statement put an end to solution of Garabagh problem once and for all?
- I have already been saying this for many years. But many people didn’t like this. I said co-chairs of OSCE Minsk Group don’t have the power to solve Garabagh conflict. The member countries of the triumvirate – the US and France have never been interested in solution of this conflict. This conflict was a rivalry ground for them. But Russia approached this conflict differently because it is a neighbor region. Therefore I have always said this conflict should be solved jointly by three countries – Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Fortunately, this took place in the same way. But very unfortunately, this occurred in the way of war. Because Azerbaijan didn’t already have patience to withstand. Indeed, how much should Azerbaijan endure? The negotiations were conducted, they agreed, but then new leadership came in Armenia, provocative steps were committed. Demonstration of provocative position by Armenia on international political arenas finally led to war. The Azerbaijani government couldn’t reconcile itself endlessly to loss of its territories and problem of one million refugees. The result is obvious. Finally, the trilateral agreement took place. Openly speaking, this document solved a number of problems of Nagorno Garabagh conflict, but not all of them. In fact, a part of things written in the present statement also found its reflection in Bishkek protocol signed in 1994. The returning of the surrounding regions, the deployment of peacekeepers, the elimination of blockade, etc. were also present in that protocol. But those were the times when Russia’s minister of foreign affairs Andrey Kozirev assigned solution of this conflict to Minsk Group in order to be friends with the West - America and France. It became clear now that this was done in vain. It became clear that the activity of Minsk Group finally resulted in bumping into deadlock. And now the knot has been untied. It is true that the path hasn’t been traveled till the end yet. But the main thing is that this is a right path. I watched the last interview of president of Russia Vladimir Putin. In that interview, Putin mainly paid attention to acceptance of the trilateral agreement in Armenia. Look how respectfully the Russian president talked in his speech about position of Azerbaijan, position of president Ilham Aliyev. Putin didn’t need to calm down the Azerbaijani people. Because, indeed the Azerbaijani people took back their territories and everybody confesses this. But Putin said in his interview that he agreed with Ilham Aliyev, while Pashinyan spoke against this. Ilham Aliyev has never made even one step back from the reached agreements so far. The Azerbaijani president has always been in favor of negotiations, peace.
You know, we witnessed speeches of a number of people in Russia during these two months. We also saw articles of those people in press. Those people attempted to involve Russia as a party into this hot conflict. I let all these remain on their conscience. All of us saw this together. I have always said the responsible politicians can’t ever voice this. Russia has good relations with both of its neighbors. Therefore it was unacceptable to call on Russia to support one of the parties to the conflict. Vladimir Putin and Ilham Aliyev being two responsible great politicians put and end to this issue once and for all.
“Nobody will be able to achieve changing of trilateral statement regarding Garabagh”
- After the trilateral agreement, Armenia’s prime minister Nikol Pashinyan voiced statement saying “Recognition of independence of Nagorno Garabagh is also a priority issue from now on”. We observe attempts by Armenia to re-consider trilateral statement. How do you think, does the well-known statement of Pashinyan pose risk to realization of the document which Russia acts as a guarantor of?
- You know, now politicians make speech depending on certain interests, condition. This has always been and will remain the same. They make speck in accordance with interests of domestic audience. It is clear that this statement meets interest of domestic audience. As for the attempts to change trilateral statement, nobody will be able to achieve this. I know a number of forces attempt to change this statement. As Putin himself also said, the Armenian side refused to sign this agreement on October 19-20. But this has already happened. This is a reality today. It was also difficult for the Azerbaijani side to sign Bishkek protocol in 1994. But the Azerbaijani side approached this responsibly. Heydar Aliyev came to power, then Ilham Aliyev, years passed by, the country became stronger and solved its main problem.
“Russian expert should act from position of not one of parties to conflict, but that of Russia”
- Leonid Ivanovich, today, one of the mostly discussed topics in Azerbaijan is also the conduction of dirty campaign against Azerbaijan on political talk-shows broadcasted by Russia’s TV channels. You are one of those speakers on those talk-shows who can be counted on fingers and who defend Azerbaijan’s righteous position. If I may say so, your position coincides with Azerbaijan’s righteous position.
- Every politician, every expert should put himself in place of representatives of those nations. Not in the place of one of the nations being a party to the conflict. This is the first point. The second point is … If you are a Russian politician, expert, then you should act from Russia’s position. Why on earth you should act from position of anybody, any country? In all cases, you should be fair. May be my membership in the Communist party helps me to be fair. Irrespective of who says whatever to me, who insults me, I have my own position. This is firstly Russia’s position. This is fair position and our positions coincide because Azerbaijan’s position is also fair. I know well what history means, what the Soviet Union means. Today, the political reality is different. Today, the independent countries should be respected. Putin directly stressed in his interview that Azerbaijan is an independent and sovereign country. It independently makes decision on everything. Every leader thins and should think about his own people. I have always said this, but people are miffed at me. Why on earth should Russia think about Armenia? These two countries wage war with each other for certain reasons. The Azerbaijani side fights for the sake of justice, for its own territories. The opposite side also thinks in the same way. And now comer and stand in place of Russia. I also said in my speeches at political debates on TV channels. Why on earth do you think that Russia should fight in this war on anybody’s side? Why on earth do you want to involve Russia in this war? On the contrary, we should help our neighbors. We should help so that an end would be put to this dispute. Otherwise this conflict will continue for another 100 years. The US and France are not interested in solution of this conflict. They were interested in prolongation of the conflict, Russia’s direct involvement in the war. And this wasn’t in Russia’s interest. I think today’s solution is the most logical, right way of solution.
“Lobby has a great impact to Russian press”
-In your opinion, does not anti-Azerbaijani propaganda in Russian media, TV channels inflict blow on Azerbaijani-Russia bilateral friendly relations?
-You know, I have also talked about this issue with Azerbaijani President Mr. Ilham Aliyev. Press has always been biased and political. No matter how much they say that they are independent it is not so. Today there is no independent press. When it comes to state channels I assure you that they do not work only with directives of Kremlin. I am communist, I am in opposition, I often attend debates in state channels. I assure you the instruction, task to conduct propaganda against Azerbaijan has not given by the state of Russia. It should be noted that lobby has a great impact to Russian press.
-You chair the committee which is responsible for the relations with CIS countries in Russian Parliament. Does the committee plan to take any measures in order to suspend anti-Azerbaijani propaganda in local mass media?
-We have discussed this issue a lot, we have adopted statements. You ask me about anti propaganda. But it is press. The mass media exists with their own some rules.