On 8 October the Chairman of the National Assembly of Armenia, Ara Babloyan, and First Deputy Chairman of the Committee of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, Konstantin Zatulin, agreed to create a new platform for more direct, informal contacts in state, scientific, cultural and public spheres two countries. The new format was called the Lazarev Club, named after the famous Armenian Lazarevs family in Tsarist Russia. On November 30 – December 1, the first meeting of the Lazarev Club took place in Yerevan, the accents of which caused a negative reaction in Azerbaijan. A historian and publicist Teymur Atayev told about it in his interview with Turan news agency.
-Almost all political circles in Azerbaijan negatively perceived certain statements made at the meeting of the Lazarev Club held in Yerevan. In particular, the official invitation to attend the meeting of the so-called heads of the unrecognized world community “NKR”, voiced by the Club”s initiator, the first deputy head of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, member of the Scientific Council under the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Konstantin Zatulin. The statement of the press service of the country”s MFA, the purpose of this fact, as well as a number of speeches containing “open attacks against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” outlined “causing damage to the existing high level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and Russia.” Do you think it is possible to regard the statements made in the framework of the Lazarev Club as a message to Azerbaijan?
-In general, the position of K. Zatulin is well known. A couple of days after the end of the meeting in Yerevan, the parliamentarian on air of the National Union of Independent States, reconfirmed the plans of the official Baku “to get from America a benevolent position in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement” by putting pressure on “Armenia and other mediators” (his unyielding position”), said that representatives of Azerbaijan in Russia are playing” another card of particularly close and friendly relations.”
However, in October of this year, stating that “my efforts and colleagues are aimed” at preventing “the resumption of war” in Nagorno-Karabakh, “by our opponents” K. Zatulin identified the leaders and those “political circles of Azerbaijan who talk too much about the possibility of war”. After what he proclaimed that this “war, by the way, could end with the collapse of Azerbaijan itself”, since “this is not the stable country that it wants to be.”
Is this a kind of hidden threat?
– You know, such approach to the situation already took place a little more than 20 years ago.
In the spring of 1997, when S. Bergen, the advisor for national security to the US President”s Bill Clinton S. Berger said that one of the Washington”s priorities is the Caspian direction, K. Zatulin (in collaboration with Russian political analyst Andranik Migranyan) published in the Russian “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” an article “CIS: the beginning or end of history. To the change of milestones. It emphasized that in order to “counter” the foreign policy of Azerbaijan should “more effectively use the resources available to Moscow.” First of all, “it is necessary to maintain the military superiority of the Armenian army over the Azerbaijani.” Secondly, “to stimulate the process of unification of the divided Lezghian people, which will immediately create a new situation in the north of Azerbaijan”. Thirdly, “to actualize the problem of Talysh autonomy”. The implementation of the latter points will push the country’s “federalization”, and all “factors in the aggregate should be aimed at creating a situation in which the risk of investment in the extraction and transportation of oil would be unbearably high.” Only “the prospect of destabilization” in Azerbaijan can “block the arrival of big money in the region”, contributing to the prevention of the violation of the “existing equilibrium in this part of the globe”. So there are changes in the position of K. Zatulin.
– However, after all, we hear other statements in the direction of Baku, both from the representatives of the higher authorities of Russia, and from those close to the Kremlin.
-Yes it is. As a final example, the statement of the deputy of the State Duma of Russia, the head of the Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group of Russia and Azerbaijan, Dmitry Savelyev, can be cited. Drawing attention to the calls made within the framework of the Lazarev Club to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as a third party to the conflict and to obtain the right to participate in the negotiations, D. Saveliev proclaimed that Nagorno-Karabakh is not and cannot be a subject of international law, “not any country, even Armenia, does not recognize!”. “It is necessary to return the seven regions around Nagorno-Karabakh under the control of Azerbaijan and ensure the right of the refugees to return to their places of former residence.
Only then it will be possible to determine the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh on the basis of the will of its population,” the parliamentarian concluded.
In general, in this context, there is some parallel with one episode from the history of the Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontation that occurred in 1988. According to Andrei Grachev, spokesman for Mikhail Gorbachev (the period of his presidency in the USSR), when he was last general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, in order to “dissolve the warring parties”, resorted to “their favorite” game of “two”, sending “members of the Politburo Egor Ligachev and Andrei Yakovlev simultaneously to Baku and Yerevan on their own behalf”. We will not be distracted by A. Grachev”s emotional passage about the alleged attempt by M. Gorbachev to separate the parties; we will pay attention to his admission that the “stated” Moscow”s positions “exclude each other.”
Indeed, in Yerevan A. Yakovlev stated that Nagorno-Karabakh is “historically the territory of Armenia”, and in Baku E. Ligachev voiced the impossibility of any revision of the borders within the USSR”. According to the memoirs of Arkady Volsky, who later played a negative role for Azerbaijan, M. Gorbachev admitted: “There is a rally in Stepanakert. People chant: “Lenin- the party – Gorbachev!”, “Stalin – Beria – Ligachev!”. Why? Because Ligachev, they say, wants to give Karabakh to Azerbaijanis, and Yakovlev to Armenians. ” Do you need additional comments here?
– Well, is it possible to call the statements made in the format of the “Lazarev Club” as a kind of signal to both parties?
– It is interesting that in the Armenian society, at this stage, not everyone welcomed the activities of this Club. For example, the observer of the Armenian portal lragir.am, Hakob Badalyan, does not exclude that the Lazarev Club “will become just a patch on the old breach.” In its structure prevail “adherents of one-sided dependence of Armenia, only and convincing the Armenian people that there is no life without Russia.” Modernization of relations between Yerevan and Moscow, the current character of which is detrimental to both countries, A. Badalyan said, is possible only with the realization that Russia is as necessary for Armenia as Armenia is for Russia. Otherwise, the Club will resemble more “a painkiller than a remedy.”
In this aspect Nikol Pashinyan is interesting, who, while staying in St. Petersburg, expressed confidence in the ability of the CSTO to “prevent Azerbaijan”s attempts to solve the Karabakh issue in military way”, voiced the question of how this structure intends to “use this tool?”. “For us, this is a matter of strategic importance,” he concluded; and in this context, an attempt is made, as if initially to impose responsibility on Azerbaijan for possible military actions in the region.