Azerbaijan was, is and will remain an aggressor – Frank Engel
YEREVAN, JULY 24, ARMENPRESS. Former MEP Frank Engel thinks that the Azerbaijani leadership initiated border escalations recently to divert the attention of its citizens from domestic problems. In an interview with ARMENPRESS Engel said that every time Azerbaijani leadership faces domestic problems, they focus the attention of their citizens on the ''Armenian threat'' by attacking either Armenia or Artsakh. Frank Engel also talked about the Azerbaijani threats to strike Armenia's nuclear power plant and Turkey's behavior in the context of the clashes.
-Mr. Engel, on July 12 Azerbaijan carried out aggression in the north-eastern section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. As a result of the clashes that lasted for a few days both sides suffered casualties. How would you comment on the recent days’ actions of Azerbaijan?
-It is sadly not the first time this happens, and one might assume it won’t be the last. It seems that every time something goes awry in Azerbaijan’s internal politics, the attention of the public is diverted to “the Armenian threat” by attacks on the territory of Artsakh or Armenia proper. After decades of rigorous indoctrination of the Azerbaijani public, after decades of school curricula that have brainwashed generations of young people there, it isn’t surprising that this has worked every time until now. The trouble is that the current authorities of Baku may have taken it a step too far this time, as evidenced by the demonstrations and violence of a delirious mob demanding that finally there be all-out war. You can’t play this game forever. Sonner or later, Aliev will become the victim of his own rhetoric. That will of course be an extremely dangerous development for Armenia.
-There have been different opinions about the goals of the actions of Azerbaijan. In your opinion what goal did the Azerbaijani leadership pursue and what task did they try to solve by provoking tension at the border?
-Their goal is to divert attention from internal problems. This time they also sacked the Foreign Minister in the process, I don’t know what is cooking in Azerbaijani power circles right now. But it seems clear to me that the public in Azerbaijan demands that after years of the country shining off internationally, they finally get their share in the riches of the country, which are so far strictly confiscated by the ruling elite. Azerbaijan is facing distribution struggles, and the public is asking itself why the “Armenian problem” is not finally solved, if that is what keeps them poor. They also do no longer accept the sacrifice of officers and soldiers every few months in gratuitous acts. But as I said, the danger is: they will demand more, they want a real war. Aliev doesn’t, that would utterly ruin his wealth and governance system.
-Apart from provoking border tensions, Azerbaijan kept Armenian civilian settlement under artillery fire for a few days which is well documented and the facts have been presented to the international community. How would you comment on the behavior of Azerbaijan of targeting civilians?
-The Baku authorities will not want to risk a death toll like four years ago, when their public was outraged at the massive casualties they suffered for nothing. And as they are allowed to deny their aggressive role internationally, with hardly anyone on the front stage of international politics finally calling them out as the eternal warmonger, they will always claim that the civilian targets were a sad consequence of Armenian attacks. But when a society has been indoctrinated into sheer hatred and bloodthirst for such a long time, they revel in images of helpless victims of their military might. It is sick, but that’s what the whole system of Azerbaijan is. Sick. Only a sick society would cheer at the images of dead Armenian villagers.
-Mr. Engel, the representative of the defense ministry of Azerbaijan threatened to strike Armenia’s nuclear power plant. How would you react to this announcement of Azerbaijan?
-They are obviously desperate for attention. No-one in their right mind would contemplate carrying out such an attack, Azerbaijan itself would suffer dramatic consequences, as would Turkey, and their lands become uninhabitable for centuries. But it also shows again a point I just made: Azerbaijan is a sick system and a sick society, they would no longer be restrained by the most elementary threads of human decency in their anti-Armenian madness. They urgently need to be sanctioned by the international community. But the good thing is: after Baku openly threatened a crime against humanity, every observer of the situation should now understand why Azerbaijan has refused international monitoring of the border between it and Armenia and Artsakh. It should be abundantly clear to everyone that Azerbaijan is the aggressor, has been the aggressor and will remain the aggressor.
-Turkey did not remain indifferent towards the tensions on Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The president, foreign and defense minsters of Turkey made statements in support of Azerbaijan. How would you comment on the behavior of Turkey during those days and what can be the reason for such a behavior by Turkey?
-Oh, Turkey is active on all the wrong fronts right now. With regard to Armenia, the Republic of Cyprus, Greece. Of course it will notionally stand by Azerbaijan no matter what happens, because its supposed patronage of that state is about the only patch of geopolitical relevance which Erdogan has left. Not to mention the total dependence on Azerbaijan for energy, as Turkey would no longer be able to afford anything else than Azerbaijani oil and gas which they get virtually for free. Azerbaijan sort of helps Turkey avoid bankruptcy after the totally erratic policies of Erdogan brought his country to the brink of economic collapse. But only as long as it stands in unconditional support of Baku. The funny thing is that in Azerbaijani-Turkish relations, it is really now Azerbaijan calling the shots.