The Azerbaijani army launched an anti-terror operation in Khankendi in Karabakh, on September 19.
After 24 hours of the operation, separatist Armenian forces in Khankendi surrendered all their ammunition to the Azerbaijani army, confirming a ceasefire mediated by Russian peacekeepers. Russia’s Ministry of Defense said the ceasefire would be implemented in coordination with Russian peacekeepers in the region.
Uwidata author, historian Mehmet Perinçek made an assessment on the issue.
Internationally recognized Azerbaijani territory
We can begin with the most current issue: Azerbaijan’s operations against separatists in Khankendi. How do you evaluate this situation?
Azerbaijan has every right to conduct such an operation because those lands are Azerbaijan’s ancient territories. This fact is recognized not only by Azerbaijan or Türkiye, but also by the entire world when we look at various international decisions and the official stances of many countries.
Even Armenia recognizes Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory. The Pashinian government had affirmed that these lands belong to Azerbaijan with the trilateral agreement signed on November 9th. Therefore, there should be no problem, either from Armenia’s perspective or from that of any other country in the world, with such an operation.
Pashinian and Western imperialism
Azerbaijan’s operation is not just about ensuring its territorial integrity, but also had positive implications for the Turkic world and all the countries in the region. Why is that?
Firstly, after the trilateral agreement, we had hoped, that the Pashinian government would reintegrate into regional cooperation, learn from their past mistakes and cease their involvement in Western imperialist plans. However, the process did not unfold as we had hoped, and unfortunately, the Pashinian government returned under the control of the West, which had brought him to power through the Velvet Revolution.
The West had lost its instruments and means to intervene in the region following Azerbaijan’s victory in Karabakh. The Minsk Group was dissolved and the Ankara-Baku-Moscow axis gained prominence and gave rise to the “3+3” platform for regional cooperation in the South Caucasus. This process even started drawing Armenia toward regional initiatives. All of this indicated that the West had lost the means to intervene in the region. That is why Western imperialism, particularly the US and France, have endeavored to incite Armenia against Azerbaijan once more. With that, their aim was to instigate a conflict that would provide them with a pretext for intervention in the region.
Joint military exercises with the US
The Pashinian administration has decided to conduct joint military exercises with the US. These exercises are a threat not only to Azerbaijan but also to Russia, Iran and Türkiye. The US is well aware that in the region, it cannot implement its plans without subjugating countries like Türkiye, Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan, which have strong state traditions and significant economies, underground resources and strong militaries. The US is attempting to encircle these countries. In this regard, Armenia plays a crucial role for Washington. And the Pashinian government has resorted to various provocations and incitements once again.
As a result of all these developments, Azerbaijan carried out this operation, effectively thwarting US’ plans. This is beneficial not only for Azerbaijan, Türkiye and the Turkic world, but also for Russia and Iran.
The reestablishment of control over Khankendi and the elimination of separatist forces in the region and the complete restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity would be greeted with joy in Moscow and Tehran. We congratulate Azerbaijan on this operation and believe it will bring peace to the entire region and pave the way for regional integration.
A new era for peace in the region
There have been conflicts in the South Caucasus for many years. Do you think the recent developments will contribute to bringing them to an end?
The victory in the Azerbaijan’s War of Liberation marked the beginning of a new era for the region. Because it was evident that peace in the region was not feasible without a fair resolution of the Karabakh issue and the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Azerbaijan’s most natural right was to reclaim its own lands, and this was bound to happen eventually.
Since Armenia was unwilling to do so voluntarily, it was inevitable that this would happen through armed conflict. Therefore, there was always a risk of armed conflict in the region. Now both Karabakh and the seven regions had been incorporated into Azerbaijani territory. Now, with Khankendi, the groundwork for peace has been established. Favorable conditions have emerged for a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
An opportunity also for Armenia
After this recent operation, there is the possibility of implementing projects such as the Zangezur Corridor, which would facilitate integration of the region in the economy and transportation fields. Such projects are not only in the interest of Azerbaijan and Türkiye, but also have the potential to stimulate the economies of all countries in the region, including Armenia. These could contribute to Armenia overcoming its economic crisis.
It’s important to emphasize that the restoration of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity would lead to significant benefits for Armenia and the Armenian people. Armenia faces deep-rooted issues, including economic crises, various social and political challenges. These problems can only be addressed by the Armenian people through good relations with Azerbaijan, Türkiye and Russia. However, if Armenia aligns itself with Western plans and adopts a hostile stance towards Türkiye, Azerbaijan and Russia, it would be the Armenian people who suffer the most. That means we are here talking about a significant opportunity for Armenia as well.
Taking all these factors into consideration, it’s essential to acknowledge that the victory achieved by the Azerbaijani army is not just for its own sake but for the entire regions’ prosperity and economic development.
Anti-Russia propaganda and sentiment in Armenia
What would you say about Russia-Armenia relations in the context of recent developments? Both sides made harsh statements.
The US and Russia have been in a near state of conflict over the Ukraine issue. The US aims to continue its policy of encircling Russia from various sides. Eastern Europe, Ukraine, the Black Sea. And now the US is trying to establish bases in the South Caucasus.
In this context, Armenia holds significant importance for Washington. The US intends to use Armenia not only against Azerbaijan and Türkiye, but also against Russia. We can say that Moscow is clearly aware of that. In particular, the joint exercises with the US and the signing of an international treaty by Armenia that would lead to Putin’s arrest in the case of his visit to that country, has caused significant discomfort in Russia. Moreover, anti-Russia propaganda has intensified in Armenia. There are attacks on Russian soldiers at the bases in Gyumri. There are protests etc. provoked by the West.
I attended the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok from September 10th to 13th. I followed Putin’s speech in the hall. Putin stated the following: “They accuse us of not supporting Armenia or giving Karabakh to Azerbaijan. There is no such thing; it was Prime Minister Pashinian himself who confirmed with his signature that Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory.” Putin’s statement was essentially a green light for Azerbaijan’s anti-terror operation, that is, he indicated that Russia would not try to prevent or take any measures against such an operation.
Türkiye-Russia axis in the South Caucasus
During the 44-day Second Karabakh War, there were claims and criticisms like “Russia is not fulfilling its responsibilities” and “Russia is not defending Armenia.” At that time, Russian officials took a clear and correct stance, stating that the areas where the operations or military conflicts were taking place were not Armenian territories, and therefore, there was no obligation for Russia to get involved or defend Armenia. This attitude has helped Azerbaijan to reclaim its territories.
When we look at both the 44-day Second Karabakh War and this latest operation, it is the Azerbaijani army, the commander-in-chief of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani nation that ensured the victory. Also, the Türkiye-Russia axis, namely the cooperation in the South Caucasus, contributed greatly to Azerbaijan’s victory.
Khankendi was home to a significant Armenian population. There is a lot of news and information that a significant number of them have migrated. How do you see the near future for ordinary people in the region?
With the process of Armenians in Karabakh joining Azerbaijan, regaining their citizenship, integrating into Azerbaijani society and the signing of a peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, along with regional integration processes, conditions are ripening for the return of displaced people to their regions and the positive relations between peoples.
There were thousands of Azerbaijani Turks living in the current territory of Armenia. They were forced to leave their hometowns at various times due to various reasons. Now, we can foresee in a new era of peace, where old memories are starting to fade away and people are looking towards a more peaceful and prosperous future.
Iran, Azerbaijan and Türkiye: a common ground possible?
Another crucial issue in the region is the Zangezur Corridor. There is talk that Iran has some reservations on this issue. Do you think it is possible for Iran to reach a common point with Azerbaijan and Türkiye on this issue?
Now, there is a new reality in the region: Azerbaijan has secured its territorial integrity. As I previously mentioned, this is not only in the interest of Azerbaijan and the Turkic world but also of Iran. Azerbaijan has thwarted the plans of the US in the region. This is the most beneficial outcome for Iran.
The interests of Türkiye, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, and even Armenia converge: to establish peace in the region and prevent the intervention of imperialist powers. The more regional countries collaborate and thwart Western interference and provocations, the better they can pursue their own national interests.
In this regard, strengthening regional initiatives and making the 3+3 platform more functional is necessary. If these steps are taken, there should be no problem that Azerbaijan and Iran cannot resolve at the negotiation table, including the Zangezur issue.
Iran needs to stop being suspicious of Azerbaijan and accept the new reality. Correspondingly, Azerbaijan and Türkiye should work to alleviate any concerns Iran may have and be considerate of Iran’s sensitivities.