Adil Bagirov: Separatists do not benefit much from this ‘aid’

Tue 10 Feb 2015 08:14 GMT | 12:14 Local Time

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Oxu.Az interviews co-founder and member of the US Azeris Network Directors’ Board and Karabakh Foundation (United States) Adil Bagirov.

In its budget bill for the 2016 fiscal year the US administration proposes not only to reduce economic aid to Armenia and Azerbaijan but also envisages no aid to Nagorno Karabakh. Is this because of financial economy amid crisis or is there any policy in this resolution? And is it possible that the Karabakh separatists will get no economic support of the United States?

n fact, the US administration has never requested funds for the direct aid to the Armenian-occupied Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Moreover, as I have already said, in the time when R.Morningstar was a special adviser to the president and US Secretary of State for assistance to the former USSR states in 1997-1998, he successfully blocked and reduced direct aid to Armenians in the occupied Azerbaijani lands of the Karabakh region, which the members of the Armenian cocas of the US Congress had tried to get from the US budget since 1997 (1998 fiscal year).  

Therefore, Obama, Bush or Clinton never requested money for the Armenian-occupied Nagorno Karabakh. The Armenian lobby scoops this direct aid via their pals in the Congress. They are going to do the same this year through their friends in the respective subcommittees for assignations in the Senate and the House of Representatives of the US Congress.

I have to note again that the absolute majority of the Congress members get shocked when they hear it. But as the efforts of both official Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani diaspora in the US do not have such an influence on the Congress, every year since 1998 fiscal year, the direct aid is ensured by a number of the congressmen and senators, despite the Administration’s will. As the saying goes, ‘he who makes the money makes the rules’.

Certainly, this is a very disappointing and outraging fact which must be struggled with and protested. Here it is possible to note that the US Azeris Network has been struggling actively with these (and other) negative phenomena since 2008. Thousands of letters were sent to the Congress members, tens of USAN articles published, even radio and TV programs organized by the USAN members.

Not to mention the numerous meetings with the Congress members and numerous testimonies at the hearings in the US Congress (USAN has been doing so in written since 2008 and in 2013 it was done ‘in live’ for the Azerbaijani diaspora.

We have repeatedly been close to victory but in the end a more numerous Armenian diaspora, with its millions of financial resources, managed to attain the inclusion of aid (though not $5-20m, as they tried to, but $2m – thus Azerbaijan’s efforts were partially successful).

Well, the powers are not equal-USAN is a fully goodwill organization with a net structure where nobody gets salary or bonuses and just defends the just position of the Azerbaijani people, doing this even better than any other NGO or professional lobbyists and even manage to deal a blow on the Armenian lobby (no Armenian lobbyist, consultant, diplomat or journalist is able to do anything against USAN members one-on-one. They win just for their numerical superiority and millions of dollars).

Meanwhile, the two biggest Armenian lobby organizations-direct rivals of USAN, as US media say-each have 6 millions of dollars in official yearly budget. This amount is bigger not only than the microscopic budget of the USAN but also the budgets of the lobbyist companies, hired by the government and individuals in Azerbaijan. Therefore, the situation has not changed yet.

By the way, of those couple of millions of assistance from the US Congress, which go illegally to the occupied region of Azerbaijan, up to 50% is consumed by the US organizations for some administrative costs. The rest is used for demining the occupied lands (which, in fact, is good for Azerbaijani army), or for modified seeds (that should rather be avoided than planted) or for vaccination of the Armenian population.

Considering the fact that vaccination is rather common among US children than elsewhere in the world and this has many side effects in weak organisms, Armenians have no much benefit from such ‘aid’.

Baku has recently stated that Washington need to rejects double standards in relation to separatism in Azerbaijan and Ukraine and instead of supporting the military junta in Karabakh it should impose sanctions on all those responsible for the occupation of the fifth part of Azerbaijan. Is there a hope that these statements will have any effect?

There are such bills and resolutions in the US Congress, but I think no changes should be expected until early 2017.
In fairness it must be said that Baku should do much more in international policy. Huge money is spent on ‘image-making’ projects that give little benefit. Even 10% of these funds would suffice to change the situation not only in the United States but also in the world. Though money would not suffice – people, at least, should know their case.

The matter is about what Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis are doing to fight implications of the occupation? Who can say that ‘sufficient’ things are done, or that they do ‘as much as Armenians do’?

By the way, as I have repeatedly stated during my interviews, March 31 and Khojaly were for the first time recognized on the official level of states on the initiative of the US Azeris Network.

Also, it was in the United States when the precedent occurred in the world jurisprudence – in 2004-2005 Armenian serviceman, lieutenant Vigen Patatanyan was charged for, I quote, ‘A crime against humanity’ against Azerbaijani citizens in the Karabakh region of the country. After it, he was blacklisted and deported as a foreign citizen.

Also, in 1999 Armenian ethnic, Andreasyan was forced to admit that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan. It has already been years that the Department of State recognizes in written that Armenia violates the CFE Treaty and ‘keeps its army and armored technique illegally in the territory of Azerbaijan without the latter’s consent’. The United States did it on their own initiatives, without any lobbying by Azerbaijan or Azerbaijani organizations.

The decision of Azerbaijan supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine to oppose sanctions against the Russian delegation, drew sharp criticism from the Ukrainian Ambassador to the Republic. What can you say about this?

The respected Ambassador is manifestly unfair in his criticism, and he has likely already realized it. He certainly said it in warm blood, in a fit of emotion. You know, the Azerbaijanis (though, not ambassadors but, anyway) talked too much emotional and talk until now, with a heavy heart, about the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
I do not understand what Ukraine was striving for while expelling Russia from PACE. PACE is a toothless structure, and many at the top of the Russian Federation for sure even rejoice that they no longer have to listen to the MPs of this ineffective organization.

The Former US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Matthew Bryza has recently urged the US not to sacrifice the strategic interests of Washington in cooperation with Baku for cycling on individual human rights. This statement was consonant with the words expressed at a recent conference in Washington, DC, organized by The Washington Times newspaper. What could you answer in this regard to those who share another opinion, voiced by American expert Wayne Mary who said: ‘The strategic importance of Azerbaijan to the United States is declining, and official Baku has shown little interest in strengthening relations with Washington?"

 oth experts are right. It is obvious that the strategic importance of Azerbaijan for Obama's administration has slightly decreased. However, not as much as some in the United States would like it to. It decreased not only due to objective reasons (withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, a slight improvement in relations with Iran, and the reduced factor of Azerbaijani oil and gas), but also for subjective reasons (neither Obama nor Biden nor Kerry had ever been close to neither Azerbaijan, nor to the Turkic world in general).

This is likely to change in early 2017, when the White House will have the new owner, for whom the strategic importance of Azerbaijan would seem higher, and emotional significance of Armenia would be low.




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