Azerbaijan reverses position against Armenia 9 days after "enemy" statement

Armen Hareyan's picture

Just nine days after making hostile remarks against Armenia, neighbor Azerbaijan releases a statement, which could be seen as a reversal and hope that Armenia may revise its decision on Eurovision 2012 participation in Baku.

Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia are tense over the right of self-determination of Nagorno Karabakh, a de facto Republic with Armenian majority that wants to live independent of Azerbaijan. The case is similar to Kosovo and Southern Sudan, which recently gained their independence with international backing.

Last year Azeri representatives won the Eurovision song contest and according to the rules this year the Eurovision 2012 will be held in Baku. Despite tense relations the Armenian side made an official application in line with its policy of supporting people contacts and public diplomacy. The presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia released a joint statement at their latest meeting in Sochi aimed to achive just that: confidence consolidation between the two nations.

Yet, according to media sources, such as BBC and Radio Liberty the Armenian side boycotted its participation in Eurovision because of Azerbaijan's president's anti Armenian remark on March 1 that "the Armenians of the world" are his nation's main enemy. After this remark Armenian withdrew its application and the world media noticed it.

Today, there seems to be a reversal on the Azeri side. Elman Abdullayev, the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, released a statement to News.Az stating "we treat the Armenians normally enough and don’t have towards them ... hostile attitude." continues that "according to the spokesman, Armenians living in Azerbaijan are provided with all conditions and even the Armenian church located in the centre of Baku was restored recently."

Armenian media has picked up the statement has called it a contradiction by Azeri MFA to its president's remark. "Azerbaijan's MFA Contradicts Ilham Aliyev," writes one of the leading onlines newspapers in Armenia

Overall Armenia has a point. You can't participate and sing in a country where the president, according to media reports, calls the entire nation Azerbaijan's "main enemy." Before that statement the Armenians had submitted an application to participate in Baku and it has been widely supported in the country.

Can't stay enemies forever

At this point perhaps it would help the case if Azerbaijan sent extra reassurances that despite disagreement over Karabakh the two nations are not enemies. Azerbaijan is the host country, it can do this and would be a great way to demonstrate a warm Caucasian hospitality. The more Armenian and Azeri artists travel to each other's country the better for building trust and restoring confidence. The public diplomacy will build that base, that support upon which the three sides can strike a deal and reach an agreement on Karabakh. This view was also stated and supported by EU foreign ministers on their Conclusions on South Caucasus. Promoting trade relations, facilitating travel and starting of transformative and approximation work is key to the conflict's final resolution.

Few weeks ago there was a meeting held in Moscow between Armenian, Azeri and Russian intelligentsia representatives. The Editor of one of Armenia's leading newspapers Aravot, Aram Abrahamyan, who participated in that meeting wrote a great editorial titled "Let’s Not Leave It to the Next Generation."

Abrahamyan writes that at the meeting the representatives of the three nations were listening to a poem sited by a leading Russian poet. " I thought that it was interesting, pleasant for Armenians and Azerbaijanis of my generation (certainly, some layer), because we read the Youth magazine in our childhood, the editor of which was Dementyev for many years, because we were citizens of a big country and at the end of the day we speak the language, in which the poet writes. And our children who have grown up in two independent countries obviously meet none of those conditions. Some things unite Azerbaijani intellectual and me and we can talk on the cultural foundation that was laid in our school and college days. If the alienation and enmity between our peoples are retained, I cannot imagine how, on what foundation our children will communicate. That is why I think that it is not right to hand our conflict over to the next generation – everything will be much harder for them."

At the end of the day, how nice would it be if the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev called the president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and said something like - despite everything we would be glad and would love to see the Armenian representative singing in Baku. Now that could be a start of a new chapter between the two nations.

Image source of Azerbaijan's capital Baku: Wikipedia


Submitted by Andre45 (not verified) on
I think in this situation Azerbaijan making an extra gesture would be the right move. A move toward peace building. Then the ball will be in Armenia's court. I can see Armenia's point. If they call you an enemy number 1 it's not easy to go there and sing with a winning spirit. But I agree with the author that this generation should do the utmost to get peace between the two nations. Let Karabakh live alone, let the people in Karabakh decide how they want to live and let Armenia and Azerbaijan build reconciliation.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
No what does it mean" let karabakh people live alone"? karabakh was populated both Azerbaijanis and armenians. who gives this permission to armenians to do whatever they want. Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and must be got back at cost of war even if it will leave a lot of casualties

Submitted by Alex91 (not verified) on
We should also focus on the episode that preceded the official rejection of Armenia to participate at the contest in 2012: the “boycott” by Armenian singers. On February 23rd, a group of Armenian singers (having nothing to do with the contest) said they would boycott the “Eurovision 2012” using the death of an Armenian soldier on the border with Azerbaijan. The statement said a private Albert Adibekyan had been killed by a sniper from the Azerbaijani side. This lie, however, did not last a month. This time the propaganda mechanism has failed from the inside as the singers have been exposed by the Ministry of Defense of their own country reporting Adibekyan to have died not of the Azerbaijani sniper’s hand, but his own comrade. We have got used to such kinds of provocations and fakes by the Armenian side, nonetheless, this time everything seemed most tragicomic. In the whole, non-participation of Armenia at the song contest seems quite logical. It has isolated itself from transport and commercial projects launched in the region, so why not stand aside the cultural life?

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