We would like you to comment on an article published in Foreign Policy magazine, which claims that Azerbaijan has allowed Israel to use its airfields. The article also alleges that even if Azerbaijan does not allow Israel to take off from its airfields, it will do its planes to land there after making strikes on Iran. How well-founded are these claims?
These claims are groundless. These are reports fabricated by certain forces with the view of causing confrontation between Azerbaijan and Iran. Azerbaijan pursues a fully independent military and security policy. Since 1993, Azerbaijan has been pursuing a neutral policy determined by the national leader, Heydar Aliyev, in accordance with the military geopolitical and geostrategic balance in the region. Azerbaijan does not support the policy of NATO, the Collective Security Treaty Organization founded by Russia, or other states of the region regarding the deployment of military bases, military units in Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus as a whole.
Azerbaijan thinks that the countries of the South Caucasus should not be involved in any military bloc and that the South Caucasus should not be an area of confrontation for military blocs. There should be an atmosphere of partnership and cooperation in the South Caucasus. The South Caucasus, including Azerbaijan, should be an area of partnership and cooperation with foreign countries only in terms of the economy.
Amnesty International has launched a campaign on Twitter about the Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan. What can you say about it?
We regret it. By politicizing the Eurovision Song Contest, a prestigious European cultural institutions, some international organizations, including Amnesty International, and anti-Azerbaijan forces in some countries are trying to put pressure on Azerbaijan to achieve their goals against Azerbaijan, which they have been unable to realize so far.
In politicizing the Eurovision contest, they first of all show disrespect for the European Broadcasting Union and attempt to overshadow this influential European event. On the other hand, of course, this is disrespect for the singers, who will take part in the contest. The singers are unaware of political processes and this issue doesn’t concern them. Those forces intend to use them to implement their own mechanisms of political pressure. Rather than bringing credit to those organizations, including Amnesty International, this politicizes them and shows that they are pursuing a deliberate, subjective policy.
What is your view of the participation of Armenian parliamentarians in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly’s 2nd session in Baku?
Azerbaijan is a member of the international community, of the OSCE, the Council of Europe, UN and Organization of Islamic Cooperation. It also works with other international organizations and institutions, for example, cooperation with NATO. Azerbaijan is sometimes forced to meet Armenia at various events. We don’t avoid this, because we think that regardless of venue, security and the free movement of participants in events must be ensured. Azerbaijan meets its commitments and ensures the security of everyone.
The security of Armenian parliamentarians has been ensured both during their recent and previous visits. But unfortunately, the Armenian delegation shows a non-constructiveness in their speeches. A speech by one of the Armenian parliamentarians and their thoughts about the occupation of Azerbaijani territories showed that Armenia still rejects the norms of international law and UN resolutions.
You expressed some thoughts about dialogue between government and opposition in a statement for the press. Igbal Agazade of the Umid (Hope) Party said he was ready to welcome Ali Hasanov to his headquarters at 12.00 on 5 April 5. What is your view of this invitation?
I have neither the time nor the desire to go to anyone’s headquarters. Why should I? My call doesn’t mean that one person should go to someone else's headquarters for a meeting. My statement means that the government of Azerbaijan is ready to listen to the desires and proposals of Azerbaijani citizens, of the organizations, political parties, which represent them, to hold constructive discussions, accept and realize their rational ideas, assure them that it is impossible to use irrational ideas. I express the will of the state, the will of President Ilham Aliyev’s team. It doesn’t mean that anyone has to go anywhere for a meeting. I am a government official, my duty is to establish relations between socio- political circles and the president of Azerbaijan and to inform the president about their wishes and desires, as well as to inform them about the president’s policy.
Ali Karimli, chairman of the Azerbaijan People's Front Party sees the arrest of his brother-in-law, an employee of Texnikabank, as pressure against himself. How do you assess this?
The legal process is continuing. As the work of the law-enforcement bodies, the court’s decision, the question of arrest and subsequent trials have not yet been completed, my comments could be assessed as pressure on the legal process. I can say only that hundreds of incidents of this kind occur in Azerbaijan, there are tens, hundreds of detainees. Each of them must be assessed individually. Politicizing these issues and linking them to politics doesn't reflect well on anyone.