TODAY.AZ / Politics

British parliamentarian: Armenia is like a headless chicken who doesn't know where to run

19 March 2010 [12:40] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with Mike Hancock, Member of the British Parliament, member of the PACE Monitoring Committee and Committee on Political Affairs.
Azerbaijan and Turkey say there is a direct link between settlement of the Karabakh conflict and normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations. Do you agree with this approach, or you think that these two issues should be considered separately?

The problem is that these two issues are difficult to separate from each other. This is very, very difficult situation. The U.S. Congress decision on so-called "Armenian genocide" caused a strong anger of Turkey. In my opinion, Americans have done very big mistake, and they will feel sorry about this. I hope that President Obama will be able to use his influence to prevent the ratification of this document.

This caused understandable concern in Turkey, since the U.S. returned to possibility of approval of dubious historical facts.

This is only part of the problem. In my opinion, Armenia is like a headless chicken that runs around in circles. They really do not know where to run. And the more they pull, the less viable is their country. They are more concerned about what happened a hundred years ago. They have evidently lost control over the situation they face today.

Armenia's economy is limited and it is actually mixed with that of Russia. Unemployment reigns in the country amid growing external debt. I believe that the Russian will soon realize the futility of investing money in Armenia in terms of its interest.

The sooner the Armenian side understands that the solution to the Karabakh conflict meets its economic interests (I am not talking about political and historical interest), the sooner it will realize that it is neighbour of a prosperous country that can make it as successful as it is itself.

Those who say that people like the current Armenia President, who personally, by force of arms, participated in the occupation of Azerbaijani lands can't give them back, seem to be right. Does it mean that the progress in the settlement process can be achieved only by changing the Armenian leadership?

In my opinion, it would be very nice if it was possible. But it is better to know the mood of your enemy. Britain is a classic example of this. We had to make friends with our enemies, particularly in Northern Ireland. Today one of the senior officials in Northern Ireland is the man who headed the campaign of terrorism against Britain, killing thousands of people. More people were killed in 30 years than in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The only way to achieve a political solution is to bring these people to your side. Sometimes you have to sit next to your enemies, the people who conducted aggression against you, though it is unpleasant. Britain had done so in many parts of the world: in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, India and other countries. We always had to learn that if you want to solve the problem peacefully, you should be ready to talk even with those who are your worst enemy.
As you know, there is strong Armenian lobby led by notorious Baroness Cox in the British Parliament. Do the activities of such persons influence foreign policy of the UK in regard to the Karabakh problem?

I am pleased to say that not at all. Baroness Cox is a voice in defense of Armenia. I also try to raise voice in defense of Azerbaijan in the British Parliament. And I will continue to do so. The British Parliament hosted an event devoted to the Karabakh events in late February, and I was pleased to see how many members of parliament signed a petition. In Britain, there is a lot of sympathy for the fact that a country is deprived of part of its territory.

The British have special feelings for the people who lost something very precious, including the Azerbaijanis of Armenia, who are unable to return to their homes.

By the way, today UK has more sympathy and respect for Azerbaijan than you think.

So, we conducted a series of events in the Chamber of Commerce. I was pleased to see how many people visited them. We arranged a photo exhibition which was visited by many people, including Baroness Cox. In total, there were nearly 70 people, which is good for the Chamber of Commerce. There were also wide-ranging debates.

Baroness Cox sees the problem from only one angle. This is wrong. I hope that this approach will change soon. The sooner she arrives in Baku, tries to speak and understand the people here, the better she will understand the depth of wounds in their hearts. I think currently she does not realize it in full.

Do not you think that the EU and the United Kingdom could play a more active role in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict?

Yes. I think that your current president is the best that Azerbaijan could have at present. He knows Europe, he is personally acquainted with many European politicians due to his previous activities in PACE. He makes a lot of visits and has an excellent command of English. I myself recently listened to his speech in English in London that lasted about an hour. I felt that he was the right man with whom everyone in Europe would like to work.

This is a person who needs support. Azerbaijan is rich not only in natural resources, but also the culture and mentality of the local population to create a sort of bridge to Europe. I think it would be very foolish on the part of Europe do not pay much attention to South Caucasus and Azerbaijan in particular.

I believe that Europeans need to understand that it is better to work with Azerbaijan than to show a negative attitude towards it. So, I do not like criticism of Azerbaijan, in particular, from the opposition inside the country, which itself avoids the election. I do not know whether they have their political agenda, because it seems that it all consists of one word "No". It does not help the country.

You have a government and it is legal whether someone likes it or not. You have a president with a broad mandate, the president is popular, and is popular because he has no alternative. In my opinion, he tries to do what is best for Azerbaijan.


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