Azeri Opposition Leader Tries to Appeal to Karabakh Armenians

Rustam Ibragimbekov

MOSCOW (RFE/RL)—A prominent filmmaker who is expected to be Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s main challenger in an upcoming presidential election has advocated a radical change of Azerbaijan’s strategy of winning back Nagorno-Karabakh.

In an interview with the Georgian Times daily newspaper, Rustam Ibragimbekov said Baku should avoid antagonizing Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population with threats of military action.

“I am categorically against saber-rattling and declarations that Armenians must be wiped out,” Ibragimbekov said. “You can’t solve conflicts with weapons in the 21st century.”

“If there is a truly democratic situation and no corruption in Azerbaijan … if Armenians, who are clever and pragmatic people, see that living in a Karabakh belonging to Azerbaijan is much better than living in a Karabakh belonging to Armenia, they will live just like they did for centuries,” added the screenwriter who has spent much of his life in Russia.

Ibragimbekov also suggested that the governments of both Azerbaijan and Armenia are interested in the Karabakh status quo. “They pretend to be making attempts at resolving the conflict because it’s a source of uncontrolled profits on both sides. It’s a source of power. It’s an instrument for putting the country in a state of war at any moment.”

“I believe that the problem should be lowered from a narrow circle of individuals to the popular level,” stressed the 74-year-old.

Azerbaijan regularly threatens to forcibly regain control over Karabakh and other Armenian-controlled territories surrounding the disputed enclave. Over the past decade, Aliyev’s government has spent billions of dollars in oil revenues on a massive military buildup which it says will eventually force the Armenians to give up Karabakh.

Ibragimbekov, whose works include the Oscar-winning Russian movie “Burnt by the Sun” and the Soviet classic “White Sun of the Desert,” was chosen by Azerbaijan’s leading opposition groups last month as their single candidate in the election slated for October. The filmmaker has been absent from Azerbaijan for the past several months. He has expressed fears that he will be arrested on charges of tax evasion if he returns to the country.


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  1. Kevork said:

    All these “Azeris” just don’t get it. There is NOTHING to discuss regarding NK!! Armenians everywhere want NOTHING to do with “Azerbaijan”!!

    And it is precisely these “fair minded Azeris” we need to watch closer than the chief barking dog of Baku!

  2. GB said:

    Rustam and Sultan Alioff likes to gain their popularity base on Artsakhi Armenians collaboration, and that will never happen again for another thousand year!! Axerbaijan should focused on their own people and fight against corruption, where some ordinary oil rich Sheikhdom people, still lives below poverty level!!

  3. edward demian said:

    Sure thing Ibragimbekov,
    And if you make the offer sweet enough, maybe Armenia and Georgia will join too. I allays thought that the old Transcaucasian republic idea was an inspired. But what are we going to do about that silly primitive belief system of yours? I would have to be a non sectarian union.

  4. john said:

    how do you leave with the People when killing Armenians will get you a metal by the President of Azerbaijan

  5. bigmoustache said:

    what this man doesn’t realise is that our concerns are not economic but security related. we will NEVER live under Azerbaijan because the Azeris and Turks are a racist, hateful people. today it may be peaceful but 10 years down the line there would be another massacre of Armenians. we will not hand Artsakh to Azerbaijan so they can discriminate Armenians while moving azeris in so the demographics can change. who does this jackass think he is? is he taking us for fools?

  6. GeorgeMardig said:

    Aliyev and his corrupt family will never cooperate to bring democarcy and free elections to Azerbaijan, and the Karabagh problem will not be solved until real Democracy is implemented

  7. Satenik said:

    ” if Armenians, who are clever and pragmatic people”….They are my dear ..they are and that is why, they have quite rightly decided to live in Karabagh belonging to Armenia thank you very much!

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