Lala Shovkat: “I do not believe that Turkish parliament will pass an issue contradicting Azerbaijan’s interests” – INTERVIEW

Lala Shovkat: “I do not believe that Turkish parliament will pass an issue contradicting Azerbaijan’s interests” –<font color=red> INTERVIEW  </font>
# 03 September 2009 08:57 (UTC +04:00)
Leader of National Unity Movement and Azerbaijan Liberal Party Lala Shovkat interviewed by APA

-How do you assess the protocols envisaging normalization of Armenia-Turkey relations and opening of the borders?

-At first sight, these two protocols are connected with the establishment of diplomatic relations. According to them, the borders will open two months after the protocols come into force. This is undesirable for Azerbaijan. Diplomatic relations may be restored, but the problem of borders is important for Azerbaijan. Due to the occupation of Azerbaijani territories Turkey closed its borders with Armenia. All these years Turkey stated that the border will reopen after the lands are released. Unfortunately now none of these two protocols contain an issue concerning Nagorno Karabakh. Of course, this issue is very fearful for Azerbaijan. Six weeks have been allotted to sign the protocols, after that they should be discussed in the parliament. So, there is time, on the other hand I do not believe that Turkey will do something that contradicts Azerbaijan’s interests. Recep Tayyip Erdogan firmly said in Azerbaijani parliament in May that the closure of the border with Armenia is connected with the occupation of Azerbaijani territories and the border will not reopen unless Karabakh problem is solved. Moreover, Turkish Foreign Ministry also made a similar statement. These issues are not covered in the protocols. I understand that Turkey is under pressure. Conditions have been laid down that in order to enter the European Union the relations should be normalized. But still I do not believe that Turkey will take any steps contradicting Azerbaijan’s interests. On the other hand, I believe that these issues will be agreed with Azerbaijani authorities, at least Azerbaijani authorities will be informed before making such decisions.

-What do you think about the reports that Turkey is forced to reopen the borders with Armenia?

-There is no obligation. I do not believe that a country may force a big state like Turkey to do something. Turkey is a big and powerful state. So, I do not want to think that Turkey does this under the influence. But Turkey has a strategic aim to enter the European Union, it is trying to achieve it step-by-step.

-Do you think there will be necessary protests in Turkey and Azerbaijan against these protocols?

-I think there should be protests. But the protocols will likely be discussed in the parliament. The main problem will be solved there. I do not believe that Turkish parliament will pass an issue contradicting Azerbaijan’s interests, though the position of the ruling party is strong enough in the parliament.

-The negotiations on the settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict and Madrid principles have raised serious concern. Do you think Azerbaijan will agree to these principles?

-The most negative feature of Madrid principles is that they envisage referendum. If there is a referendum in these principles, it means the loss of Karabakh. We understand it very well. In the diplomatic language we may say, write it differently. I do not believe that Azerbaijani President will sign the Madrid principles. That’s why I do not think that the problem will be solved soon, I think it will last long.

- How do you evaluate an initiative of the political parties to hold protest actions against these principles?

- There is no opportunity to hold protest actions. Our activity was restricted all around. We have no opportunity to hold meetings, we have no offices and our regional organizations are also without headquarters. Today the parties are in very bad situation. We can say that the protest actions were banned. Today we can not even to rent a hall to hold conferences. It would be no correct to say that we can hold strong actions under these circumstances. But we can attempt. The government has to think that the activity of political parties is necessary in this moment that the world has to see that there is a society able to protest. It is very important issue. There should be a public opinion about Karabakh, but the public community has no opportunity. It is damaging the government because the world community takes into consideration opinions both government an society. The government creates difficulties for itself by restricting of the parties’ activity. It is strategically wrong policy.

- What do you think about the proposal of Movement for Karabakh and Republic to establish electoral bloc before the municipal elections later this year?

- I support this proposal and I think that it will be solved positively. It will be better if the opposition goes to elections as a united bloc. There is no final decision on that, but I hope it will be.

- Will the movement nominate enough candidates?

- Sure. The movement has enough candidates. The main issue is a fair concurrence during the elections. If the election is held as previous ones, it means we are going to a farce. I decided to go to the elections because I intended to check two factors. First, did the government leave previous traditions and is it interested in the democratic local elections? Second, it is necessary to make people hopeful and to revive the society.

- When will the Liberal party hold its next congress?

- We made several attempts to rent a hall, but failed. The owners told us that they couldn’t give their halls to the opposition. We have only venue problem. But we will find the place sooner or later.

- Do you think to develop cooperation inside the opposition after the municipal elections?

- I would like to see this cooperation sustainable.

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