Among the many problems, the current situation with the unliberated (where the separatists operate) and liberated territories are the leading problems of Azerbaijan and are closely interrelated. The situation in the unliberated territories and around them is even more difficult, because the complete solution of the problem depends not only on us.
Although the meetings in Sochi and Brussels late last year gave rise to high hopes that passive negotiations on the normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia would move into an active phase within a year, since the beginning of the year, attempts have been made to gradually return to the pre-war scenario.
The events in Kazakhstan completely violated the usual slowdown, stagnation and lull in the political and social processes going on in the world at the beginning of the new year, and we have become witnesses of the attention of the world to the events taking place in this country.
As the situation in Kazakhstan stabilizes, everyone is gradually forced to return to their problems, including Azerbaijan and Armenia. Despite the fact that the events in Kazakhstan did not completely subside, there were regular provocations on the border with Armenia, and, unfortunately, again we had victims. It can be said that the Kremlin demonstrated an active position earlier than the parties to the conflict.
Last week, on January 14, at a traditional briefing at the Russian Foreign Ministry, answering a question in connection with Karabakh, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russia's goals. This issue reflects both the old position and possible new situations. The old position is that the head of Russian diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, once again returned to the delimitation of borders and stated that the demarcation of borders has nothing to do with the Karabakh problem. In other words, the Kremlin once again made it clear to the parties that your border dispute has nothing to do with Russia's presence in Karabakh and that the final status of Karabakh has not yet been resolved. This is a subject of discussion in the future and Russia will remain in Karabakh for an indefinite period. We must not forget that although the agreement of November 10 indicates a maximum for this - 2030, the line in Russian policy known from other sources of conflicts in the post-Soviet space is the extension of the deadlines and the direction of them (conflicts - ed.) in a completely different direction.
Russia also infiltrated Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the status of a peacekeeper. In 2008, Russia recognized the separatist regimes as states and actually occupied the territory of Georgia. There are many concerns about the implementation of such a scenario in Karabakh. Russia's actions in Karabakh from the moment of its appearance there have by no means served the peace. All her actions, from the construction of a church in Khojaly, the installation of famous busts, to the admission of representatives of other countries across the border without the permission of Azerbaijan, are aimed at stimulating the separatist regime. By the way, on January 20, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, stated that the entry of foreign citizens into Azerbaijan through the Lachin corridor is the exclusive right of Russia.
Lavrov's statements about Armenia's new position on demarcation were not long in coming, and no matter how contradictory it may seem, it became clear that defeated Armenia put forward a condition for us. Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan said that the army should withdraw from the border, take control of the border troops, and then begin work on delimitation and demarcation. In addition, referring to the status of Karabakh, he voiced the condition that "there can be no restrictions on the issue of status." The thesis about the need to resume the activities of the Minsk Group and other proposals that contradict the position of Azerbaijan were repeated again. There is no doubt that the setting of conditions by the defeated state is due not only to its will.
The picture is clear. Armenia and Russia are trying to delay the demarcation of the border and the full settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Armenia is interested in the fact that the geopolitical reality in the region will one day change in its favor, while Russia is interested in preventing a complete settlement of the conflict in order to maintain its influence and ability to exert pressure in the South Caucasus. What steps should Azerbaijan take in this case?
We know where our internationally recognized borders are. Without accepting the conditions of Armenia and without waiting for the creation of a bilateral commission, we must create a continuous border strip on our borders, creating border engineering structures in accordance with the most modern standards. We must start negotiations with the establishment of specific terms for the evacuation of the occupied enclave villages in the direction of the Gazakh region.
Today, the recognition by the enemy of our borders and territorial integrity, the signing of a peace agreement by him is unrealistic and one cannot hope for this.
We must demand, in accordance with the agreement of November 10, the withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from the territory of Azerbaijan to the last man. As mentioned above, the second problem is related to the return to the liberated lands. What happened in the past 14 months after the war shows that the return of our IDPs to their homes in the former Nagorno-Karabakh region does not look like a light at the end of the tunnel, but like a dream.
Today, there is no clear idea in society about returning not only to the former Nagorno-Karabakh, but also to the liberated lands. The question - "Will you return after the liberation of the lands?" - disgusts the internally displaced persons. But in recent days, this feeling has been aggravated even more by the conditions of bus routes that will carry people to Shusha and Aghdam. Absurdly aside, the "citizen may travel once a year" condition means that residents of those places should not expect to be able to resettle in their homelands in the near future. Moreover, enemy propaganda is using this situation to their advantage, to strengthen the separatist regime.
The real and natural causes are known; clearance of territories, the creation of vital facilities - electricity, water, heating, road infrastructure, difficulties in allocating funds for these works, etc. All of the above works take time, but if the problem of return as a whole is solved only by the state, then it will last several decades. If the creation of infrastructure and demining is the task of the state, then the maximum forces and capabilities of the inhabitants of these places should be involved in the settlement process, of course, under the control of the state. And, as the return to the liberated lands drags on, the number of those wishing to resettle will actually decrease. Today, people who spent their adolescence and youth in those places are on average 45-55 years old. A small part of them are elderly people, and they have a stronger desire to return. And, since this category of people is naturally declining, the number of people returning to these places will also decrease. Such a situation for people living in hope is a life tragedy.
In 2022, Azerbaijan faces the most serious diplomatic, military and economic challenges, both in terms of unliberated lands and state borders, and in terms of liberated territories.