Parade (president.az)

At Baku Victory Parade, Aliyev Calls Yerevan, Zangezur, Sevan Historical Azerbaijani Lands, Erdogan Praises Enver Pasha

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BAKU (AP, Reuters, France24, Trend, Daily Sabah, en.president.az, Facebook) – On December 10, Azerbaijan celebrated its military victory over Artsakh and Armenia with a parade in Baku presided over by Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Almost 3,000 troops participated, including Turkish detachments, with Turkish drones on display which only recently had been striking Armenian forces, while flags of the allied countries were borne by helicopters over the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijani tanks and soldiers marched in long lines past the two presidents.

Aliyev’s Territorial Claims to Armenia

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Aliyev in a speech at the start of the parade made a provocative claim to the capital and provinces of Armenia, declaring “Zangazur, Goycha [Sevan] and Iravan [Yerevan] districts are our historical lands. Our people have lived in these lands for centuries, but the Armenian leadership expelled 100,000 Azerbaijanis from their native lands at the time [late 1980s].” He has made such claims to the heart of the Armenian republic repeatedly, starting in 2010, including at the Sixth Congress of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party in February 2018, where he said Azerbaijanis must return to those lands.

Aliyev used severe language about the Armenians, whom he called the “despited enemy,” declaring, “During the war, I said that our iron fist embodies both our unity and strength. That iron fist broke the enemy’s spine and crushed the enemy’s head..After that, if Armenian fascism ever raises its head again, the result will be the same. Again, Azerbaijan’s iron fist will break their back.”

In his own speech, Erdogan declared, “Today, may the souls of Nuri Pasha, Enver Pasha, and the brave soldiers of the Caucasus Islam Army, be happy,” in reference to the Ottoman armies that invaded the Caucasus during World War I. Enver was the Young Turk leader who was Ottoman Minister of War during World War I and the Armenian Genocide. Nuri Pasha, Enver’s brother, led forces which occupied Baku in 1918 and massacred many Armenians.

Press Conference

The two presidents held a press conference after the parade. Erdogan called for the removal of Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister, declaring, “We wish for the Armenian people to rid itself of the burden of leaders who console them with the lies of the past and trap them into poverty. Erdogan also warned that although the Karabakh war ended, “The struggle carried out in the political and military areas will continue from now on many other fronts.”

Presidents Erdogan, left, and Aliyev

However, Erdogan did state that Turkey might open its borders to Armenia. “If Armenia leaves behind its irrational ambitions, it can also be part of our regional alliances one day. We destroyed their [Armenian] army. Yet, then we called on Armenia to cooperate with us,” he said.

He pointed to Aliyev’s proposal to create a six-state grouping for peace in the South Caucasus and said Armenia could join it alongside Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and Georgia, but only “should Yerevan fulfil its responsibilities related to such a platform.” This could lead to opening the Turkish borders. Turkey and Azerbaijan have blockaded Armenia and Artsakh since the 1990s.

Strangely, Erdogan tried to claim that Armenia burnt down its own churches in Karabakh, perhaps in an effort to try to camouflage destruction by Azerbaijani forces. He said, “Armenia burned everything down in Nagorno-Karabakh while leaving the region. They burned down not only the mosques but also the churches. It is hard to understand why.”

Reaction

Mane Gevorgyan, spokesperson to the prime minister of Armenia, responded: ”We strongly condemn the provocative announcements made by the Azerbaijani leader in Baku. Speaking about territorial ambitions against Armenia seriously questions Azerbaijan’s readiness for establishing peace and deliberately puts regional peace and security under risk.” She also condemned the glorification of the ideology of the Young Turks.

Armenian Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan on his Facebook page declared: “These speeches are direct threats aimed at the life and health of the whole Armenian people, Armenia’s civilian population, an explicit terrorism, which are under absolute prohibition stipulated by the international law. The aforementioned speeches also affirm the Azerbaijani genocidal policy applied through methods of ethnic cleansing and terrorism during this war.  The Human Rights Defender of Armenia calls upon the worldwide international community to react and take substantive preventive measures with regards to those issues, which are in breach of fundamental principles of international law and undermine the whole international system human rights and humanitarian protection.”

The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova merely said in a weekly briefing on December 10, referring to the Erdogan and Aliyev speeches noted above, that political statements should not disrupt the cessation of military operations in Nagorno Karabakh.

Azerbaijani and Turkish expansionism did not only cast eyes on Armenia but on Iran as well, leading to a strong reaction from the latter. On December 11, the Iranian government summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Tehran to discuss “meddlesome and unacceptable” portions of Erdogan’s speech. Erdogan reportedly read parts of a poem about how a border tore apart ancient Azerbaijani  lands “by force,” referring to the separation of current Azerbaijani lands from bordering territories in Iran.

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