Azerbaijan Not Lucky with Neighbors, but They Cannot Be Chosen

-What message does Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan send to Azerbaijan and the whole world when they dance Yally, celebrating the occupation day of Shusha?

-The trip of the Prime Minister of Armenia to Shusha on the anniversary of its occupation and participation in the celebration there is a message, aimed more at the internal audience than at the international community. By taking part in the celebration, he took a step in accordance with the local rules. These actions have no influence on the international community. Naturally, these actions very badly affected the feelings of Azerbaijanis, all of this was adequately discussed, and each responded accordingly to his own logic.

- Recently there were rumors about peace talks. However, what we have seen and recent statements deny this. What prevented the peace negotiations?

- Peace negotiations and the preparation of nations for peace is the direction reflected in the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. This was done when Armenia for a long time avoided the process of peace negotiations. Then, as the most optimal option, or simply as the best offer to gain time, was the preparation of nations for peace. Peace talks for both sides were the best chance to gain time. After the April 2016 events, Azerbaijan gained an advantageous position and was interested in continuing the negotiations. Armenia after the April events didn"t really want negotiations. After the arrival, Pashinyan created a chance for negotiations. However, since his actions worry the Karabakh clan, he is also not in a hurry to make a decision on the peace process, although no one stops it.

- Taking part in the EU Eastern Partnership conference on May 13, the President of Azerbaijan and the Prime Minister of Armenia had a short conversation. Then Pashinyan again told reporters that Nagorno-Karabakh should take part in the negotiations as a party. What does Armenia want to achieve with this, and what does it hope for?

- There is nothing strange in this. The Armenian side must uphold the position declared by it to the end. Otherwise, what is the point of emphasizing this issue? Therefore, we should be more interested in the strategy of Armenia to return Nagorno-Karabakh to the negotiating table, and not in the question of its retreat. Pashinyan wants to consolidate his position in Karabakh, therefore he advocates the return of the Karabakh side to the negotiating table.

-By the way, recently, neighboring Georgia has raised the issue of territorial claims against Azerbaijan. The attitude to the question was expressed even at the level of the President of Georgia. In the center of Baku, Georgians raised posters with territorial claims. However, the authorities of Azerbaijan demonstrate silence. What's happening?

-In its time, the issue of border delimitation was discussed with Georgia, and the state commission resolved this issue. Subsequently, the work of the commission was suspended. The demonstrative visit of the President of Georgia to this territory became the basis for our border guards to restrict entry and exit. Until that time, there were no obstacles for priests and tourists to visit Keshikchidag. Without addressing this issue it cannot be calmed down now. The police"s reaction to the Georgian poster on territorial claims should have been adequate. It seemed to me that the poster regarding the territorial claim was distributed to the Internet after the departure of these tourists. If this were not the case, then our police would have actively stopped this action.

-There are those who argue that Georgia has taken such steps at the will of someone. In your opinion, which side is interested in this issue?

-After Georgia signed the Associative Agreement with the EU, the issue of strengthening control of its borders became the problem of the EU. Russia in the Shida Kartli region of Georgia uses the "moving border" tactic, changing the border line. The border delimitation with Russia was not made. Armenia is doing everything it wants in the Akhalkalaki region. There is no delimitation with the border of Azerbaijan. Therefore, the Georgian authorities, in their intention to achieve small successes, are beginning to define their borders with us. Those interested in this are nationalist forces that want to become active in Georgia. They are sometimes criticized by Georgian extremists themselves, advising them not to complicate relations with Azerbaijan.

-What should Azerbaijan do to protect its territory? How should it behave and build relationships with neighbors?

-Azerbaijan, in order to protect its territory, first of all, must create a strong army and develop the border guard service. Without a strong army, the protection and defense of territories is impossible. Without strong border controls, border security is not possible. Azerbaijan is not lucky with its neighbors. All these neighbors are waiting for us to weaken. From this point of view, the country must always be ready for external intervention tactics. At the same time, Azerbaijan should maintain a distance with its neighbors, as well as develop a policy of mutual understanding. It is necessary to develop a sense of unity of the nation. Relations with the international community should deepen. It is also necessary to deepen relations with strong allies. Azerbaijan should protect its information space, food supply and safety rules from the interference of neighboring states.

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