By Hagop A. Keuchkarian
Very often, during political discussions in different societies, I have always been asked about the problem between Armenians and Azerbaijanis, most of the time, my answer was short and brief “It’s a conflict over disputed lands which is not solved so far”. This answer seemed unsatisfactory to my interlocutors, and eventually they insisted on asking the same question in different words; why do you, Armenians, have so much animosity against the Azerbaijani people? In my turn, I used to answer, Armenians never had, and we will never have any enemy, yet we will never surrender our right to self-determination and resistance.
Until a while ago, my answers were unchanged, and straight to point, however it seemed that what I thought and expressed was not absolutely realistic.
Recently, the worldwide football community was in the forefront of an unprecedented act. The English Arsenal Team Administration appealed the Azerbaijani regime asking the Aliyev authorities to create a safe atmosphere and to prevent the dangers that threaten the safety of the Armenian football player Henrikh Mkhitaryan during his visit to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, where the final match of the European League will take place on May 29.
The Aliyev regime failed to proved the necessary assurances.
This incident, summed up in few lines, reveals much more than it seems. This Azerbaijani act reflects the underdeveloped Azerbaijani culture, mostly based on intolerance, hatred and vandalism.
First, this unprecedented acts totally contradicts with the UEFA’s objective of “Gathering the humanity around this beautiful game”, and opposes FIFA’s “No to Racism” slogan. In this context, I would like to mention that Arsenal’s appeal itself was enough to indicate the intolerance of the Azerbaijani people and government.
Politically, this may have more than one explanation:
1- The Azerbaijani government not only is against Mkhitaryan’s visit to Baku, but also this regime is afraid of the dangerous consequences that may occur during this visit.
Logically speaking, ensuring the security of the Armenian athlete should not seem to be a difficult task for a sovereign country, however what makes this task almost impossible is the negative perception of the Azerbaijani people.
2- Through this act, Aliyev reconstructed the image of the “Armenian Enemy” in the collective consciousness of the Azerbaijani people.
3- Aliyev totally realizes that the stability of his power is thoroughly interrelated with the continuity of the war on Artsakh borders. In other words, Aliyev’s authority lacks all sources of legitimacy, thus the only way to keep his power is through re-fabricating an artificial enemy.
Yes, my answers were not absolutely realistic; the conflict is much broader than “land”.