The policy conducted by Azerbaijan is the same as the policy of the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide at the beginning of the twentieth century. Yaron Weiss, an Israeli expert on the South Caucasus affairs and a columnist for "Davar", stated this in an interview with the "Orbeli" analytical center.
- Respectable Yaron Weiss, thank You for accepting interview invitation. So, despite the 2 resolutions of the UN Court of Justice, the many calls of the international community, including the member states of the UN Security Council, Azerbaijan has been blocking the Lachin Corridor for about 8 months, keeping Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) under siege. Baku has stopped the flow of natural gas and electricity to Artsakh, and in recent days it has banned even humanitarian cargo transportation. All this has caused a deep humanitarian crisis in Artsakh, and the President of Artsakh has declared the country a disaster zone. According to You, what is the ultimate goal of such a policy conducting by Azerbaijan?
- There is all the evidence that Azerbaijan wants to erase the Armenian presence in Artsakh. I've been saying this for years. Unfortunately, everything that many people warned and feared of is happening right now.
The ethnic cleansing, the rewriting of history, the Armenophobia, this is an Azeri policy that has been going on for years. The policy is the same as the policy of the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide at the beginning of the twentieth century.
That is why it is important to stop the ethnic cleansing while it is happening. The civilized world excels at holding commemorative ceremonies, but excels less at preventing events that are followed by commemorative ceremonies. This is precisely the reason why it is now necessary to increase the explanatory effort and open the eyes of world leaders.
- How do You assess the impact of the crisis in Artsakh and the aggressive actions of Baku on the region at all?
- When a large amount of modern weapons is in the hands of a dictatorship, especially when it comes to a dictatorship ruled by one family with a dubious reputation for violating human rights, the result of this is the destabilization of the region. That is why we are now witnessing the deliberate starvation of the people of Artsakh.
- According to You how what can the international community, as well as Israel, do towards the solution of this catastrophic crisis?
- A few weeks ago, a group of academics, journalists, religious leaders, activists and intellectuals urged the President of Israel (who recently visited Baku) to leverage his excellent connections with the dictator Aliyev to influence him to open the Lachin corridor. Israel is an influential factor in the region. It is most needed that all the friends of Armenia around the world, as well as all lovers of freedom and democracy should take a similar step in their countries.
- I would like to touch on the Armenian-Israeli relations as well, how would you characterize them? It is obvious that there are some gaps in bilateral relations. Will you list them and their reasons?
- The short-sighted Israeli policy sees the improvement of relations between Israel and Azerbaijan as an Israeli interest. It is well known that the government of Azerbaijan considers any Israeli approach to Armenia a step that hurts Azerbaijan. For this reason, Israel is very wary of getting close to Armenia.
We also see this in the Israeli public media, which is influenced by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the private media, which is influenced by those with interests in the industrial sector who refrain from attacking Azerbaijan and refrain from covering the crisis in Artsakh.
In recent weeks, we have been exerting a lot of effort convincing foreign news editors to ensure that there will be coverage of the situation in Artsakh, as is covered in other countries of the world.
Unfortunately, Israel has not yet opened an embassy in Yerevan. This is directly related to the desire not to anger the Aliyev family.
The Embassy of Armenia has been operating in Tel Aviv for three years. It seems that Ambassador Doctor Arman Akopian works tirelessly to develop the relations between Armenia and Israel.
I know that efforts are being made to increase tourism ties between the countries, direct flights between Yerevan and Tel Aviv, relations between academic institutions and of course attempts to connect potential investors.
Dr. Akopian has a big challenge to serve as ambassador to a country that is afraid to over-cultivate ties with Armenia.
- I’m sure You know, that Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited Azerbaijan. As it became clear from the meetings, in Baku, Gallant discussed ways to strengthen strategic cooperation between Azerbaijan and Israel. Gallant also referred to threats from Iran. How do You feel about the Azerbaijani-Israeli strategic cooperation? Does it have more benefits or are the challenges often overlooked?
- The censorship in Israel prevents citizens from information about the nature of relations with Azerbaijan. Officials point out that there is strategic importance in relations with Azerbaijan because it is a Shiite country bordering Iran. It is implied that the tightening of relations is necessary for Israel's national security.
I believe that this official policy is intended to be a smokescreen and legitimize massive arms sales to a country that is considered by most of the Western countries as a dictatorship.
Israel is known for massive arms sales to dictatorships. When Israel sells weapons to dictatorships in Africa or East Asia, the government cannot justify this with national security considerations. because these countries are not in the immediate circle of the threat to Israel. But in the case of Azerbaijan, the government justifies the sale of weapons by national security considerations to avoid public criticism.
We have learned from history that when Israel strengthened its ties with dictatorships such as Iran during the Shah's regime and South Africa during the apartheid, this caused great hostility towards Israel from the citizens of those countries immediately after the change of power. The same will happen in Azerbaijan after a change of government takes place in it or after the oil runs out. Hence, Israel's policy is short-sighted.
(c) 2023, Orbeli Center