Staunton, May 15 – The latest incidents on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in which Yerevan has accused Baku of violating Armenian sovereignty and Baku has responded by saying that its troops are simply shifting on what is Azerbaijani territory shows both how far from peace the region still is and even suggests that peaceful coexistence between the two is impossible.
MBK journalist Liza Velyaminova spoke with two journalists about how the peoples of those two countries view the larger picture, Viktoriya Pisarenko of Yerevan and Emil Akhundov of Baku, who offer a more realistic but pessimistic assessment than Moscow media have since Vladimir Putin brokered a ceasefire between the two countries in November 2020.
Pisarenko, a university student, says that all Armenians expected an escalation of the fighting this spring. “Everyone predicted this,” she says. “They said that people had to get through the winter” and then be prepared for a renewal of military actions “at the end of April or the middle of May” (mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/net-vozmozhnosti-mirnogo-sosushhestvovaniya/).
Akhundov for his part says that for the last 30 years, Azerbaijanis have been living “in expectation of new military actions” and so new violence is only to be expected, although he suggests that “the present conflict won’t grow into a full-scale war.” Azerbaijan now is in a position to reintegrate lands that are properly its.
Like Armenians, however, Azerbaijanis remember clearly the losses they suffered last fall and do not want to have any repetition, the Baku journalist continues. Every day, people in Azerbaijan are reminded about those losses and also about Azerbaijan’s victory against the Armenian occupiers.
Pisarenko says that in Armenia too, there are mixed feelings; but she decries the appearance of Internet posts suggesting that “we are so great” that we can go to war again and win. Akhundov for his part adds that “after the war, hatred between Azerbaijanis and Armenians has increased many times over.”
Yerevan is full of tourists now, Pisarenko says; and there is little sense of the war. But she says, her friends and acquaintances “are ready for the worst course of development. We understand what can happen and what we must do in that event.” As a result, “we all will stand shoulder to shoulder with our boys” in uniform.
Akhundov is also inclined to pessimism. “I do not see a possibility for peaceful coexistence,” he says. Talk of open borders and trade is fine, but at the everyday level, “I cannot imagine this after such a quantity of victims among the civilian population has build up.” No one is going to forget that anytime soon.