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Ukrainian crisis and the new status of Crimea can’t not to make Azerbaijan concerned where many problems remains unresolved for decades. About current situation in Azerbaijan HayZinvor correspondent interviewed Lecturer at the Yerevan State University Faculty’s of Oriental Studies Dept. of Iranian Studies Vardan Voskanyan.

– How does the Ukrainian political crisis influent to the political situation in Azerbaijan?

– Reaction of the Azerbaijani newspress and political circles is an evidence of the fact that Baku is seriously concerned about the policy of the Russian Federation in the context of the current crisis in Ulraine, being afraid that, in their own terms, the next “victim” can be Azerbaijan. In analysis published in the Azeri press sometimes even obvious panic has been seen: for example, a strong response of Armenian army in the north-eastern sector of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to continuous ceasefire violations by the adversary some media in Baku was qualified as allegedly preparing for a Russian invasion from the north – with the help of its ally Armenia.

Aliyev’s regime is also concerned about one more case of domination of the right of nations for self-determination in the process related to the Crimea.

Despite the fact that, according to experts on international law, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) independence cause in many respects more flawless than reunion of Crimea with Russia, and in this respect we are in much more favorable situation, but, nevertheless, any process in the world came to success as a result of realization of the right of self-determination is regarded as one more argument in favor of the Artsakh independence and its further reunion with Mother Armenia. And this is what leads to the next, but useless nerve-wracking of atmosphere in Azerbaijan, which is an hysterical one.

The third factor that strongly disturbs the current regime in Baku is that the West, under current tension in Russian-European relations, could consider Azeri oil as an alternative to the Russian gas that can directly lead to a conflict of political and economic interests, resulting in turn, as they think in Baku, in Moscow’s immediate response – it certainly will apply all available means to create tensions inside this Trans-Caucasian country having poor statehood tradition.

– In your opinion, what are the internal challenges of Azerbaijan, and what kind of processes we can see in the near future?

– It’s not a secret that inside Azerbaijan serious problems connected to the implementation of the elementary rights of indigenous peoples living there – Talyshs, Tats (Caucasian Persians), Lezghins, Avars, Ingiloys, Ghinalughs, Budukhs, Rutuls and others exist.

Especially if to take into account that in the recent times not only Talyshs, Lezghins and Avars who have “traditionally” been known for their requirements, but also Caucasian Persians have raised their concerns who have undergone process of assimilation, and who also had the misfortune in the early 20th century to participate in the creation of an artificial “state” named “Azerbaijan” – in the person of the first Chairman of the Majlis (Parliament) of the so-called People’s Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed with the help of the Turkish askiars (soldiers) Muhammad Amin Rasul-zade and other political figures.

Today, some 100 years later, they raise their voice in defense of their violated –for many decades – national rights, declaring the desire and determination to establish a “Persian Republic of Shirvan ” in the areas of the Republic of Azerbaijan inhabited by Tats.

In the recent years, unprecedented growth of the Talysh national liberation movement has been registered as well, and today the most of the Talysh politicians who mere a year or two ago have been setting just the task of an autonomy only, speaks exclusively about the fair demand of restoration of the independent statehood of Talyshstan.

In case of such a development one more unpleasant “surprise” appears for Baku: it is obvious that many indigenous peoples do not believe false propaganda by Aliev’s regime aimed at presenting Armenians as “monsters”; they have started to consider instance of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) as a “contagious” one – in a good sense, not only not considering the Armenians as their enemies, but also trying to establish contacts with them, often (if not always) expecting from the Armenian people and Armenia at least moral support to their struggle.

– Once more drawing parallels between Ukraine and Azerbaijan, can we say that the “ghost of federalization” is raising before Baku?

– In the context of the events in Ukraine, to the above-mentioned, of course, you can add an extra-fear for official Baku – increased use of the “federalization” term, and the prospect of a possible application of this principle in case of multi-ethnic countries.

Interestingly, the proposal of federalization of Azerbaijan,- as strange as it may seem, – has been coming not from Russia, but from Europe. The matter is that the West seems to realize a real danger of islamization of Azerbaijan – due to unprecedented growth of such movements in the country and widespread involvement of the Azerbaijani islamists in the Middle East terrorist groups.

Probably, actions of some Western social and political circles – with use of European bodies’ stages aimed at federalization of Azerbaijan through ethnic-territorial autonomy and intensified since the beginning of this year should be considered in such a context.

As an example of the above-mentioned could serve a forum on the establishment of peace in the South Caucasus held in Brussels in February last year in the European Parliament, where, along with other issues related to Azerbaijan, the possibility of federalization of the country was raised as well.

It is difficult to predict exactly how the process in this direction will develop, but one thing is clear – the refusal of federalization by the Azerbaijani authorities that could significantly mitigate existing very serious ethnic and religious problems, ultimately, may lead to the termination of the existence of the state, – as an independent political and administrative-territorial unit, and the further emerging of national state entities – Talyshstan, Lezghistan, Avarstan and Persian Republic of Shirvan on the territories inhabited by those indigenous peoples, and for such a development there exist, if not all, but many important prerequisites.

– How the rating of Azerbaijan in the region and its relations with the neighbors are changing? What is the current state of Iran-Azerbaijan relations?

– Despite sounding – especially in the recent times – official assurances that Iran-Azerbaijan relations are o.k., it is not possible to overcome the atmosphere of mutual suspicion, which exists primarily due to, I would say – permanent “secret hostile” policy pursued by Baku towards Iran.

For example, a very eloquent fact is that Azerbaijan is the only neighbor of Iran, on the border of which recorded exacerbation at the state level periodically, – Azeris are closing checkpoints, etc.

In short, in relations between the two countries there are so many unresolved issues – ranging from territorial claims from Azerbaijan to Iranian Province Atropatena,-with use of the false propaganda thesis about the alleged “split of Azerbaijani nation as a result of the Persian chauvinistic pressure ” to an uncovered misappropriation of the millenia-old and the richest Iranian cultural heritage and the status of the Caspian Sea, that somebody has to be an absolutely groundless and an incorrigible optimist to think that all these problems can be solved easily and in the short term.

Interviewed by Lieutenant BAGRAT MOVSESSYAN

Category: #16 (1034) 1.05.2014 – 7.05.2014, News, Spotlight, Region