By Rachel Avraham
Last week, I traveled to Azerbaijan together with former Israeli Communication Minister Ayoob Kara, who visited Agdam, a city in the war-torn Karabakh region and Baku, where the Honorable Kara was one of 22 foreign experts who gave a talk at Ada University as part of a panel titled “Development in the post-conflict period in the South Caucuses.” Other speakers included Hikmet Aliyev, the special advisor of Azerbaijan’s president, Fuad Muradov, the chairman of the State Committee on the Work with the Diaspora, and a number of other Azerbaijani government ministers.
In the tour of Agdam, the Honorable Kara saw the ruins of a city, where 100,000 people used to live in the Soviet period. He saw the ruins of the historic Bread Museum, which used to house a loaf of bread that was preserved by Soviet soldiers dating from the Second World War. All that remains of that museum is a half-destroyed mural. He saw tombs dating from the Karabakh khanate, a world heritage site which were partially destroyed. He saw a mosque, which until recently housed pigs and goats, and was used as an Armenian watch tower. And he saw the remnants of a cemetery, where all of the bones were thrown away, with the tombstones and gold teeth in the graves being sold for use in the Islamic Republic of Iran. And until relatively recently, all of these areas were covered in landmines.
After seeing that, Kara gave an interview to Eurasia Daily, where he declared: “I witnessed terrible destruction. Mined areas are the greatest disaster of our time. During our visit, we stated to the government of Azerbaijan that we could provide technological support to Azerbaijan in the field of mind clearance. Israel has invented a new robotic technology to clear landmines. With the help of these robot machines, any type of mine can be safely removed from various depths of the earth without manual interference. We have informed the Azerbaijani government about this in detail and made our proposals.”
According to him, all of these robots will be able to clear off landmines without the need for landmine maps. For Azerbaijan, this is critical, as officials in the Azerbaijani government claim that only 25% of the landmine maps that Armenia gave them are usable. Presently, there are up to a million mines that were planted in the Karabakh region.
At the conference, Vugar Suleymanov, the chairman of the Mine Action Agency of Azerbaijan, proclaimed: “Azerbaijan is one of the most landmine contaminated countries in the world. Mines are indiscriminate. Since the end of the war, there were 228 landmine incidents, which injured 184 and killed 39.”
However, the Honorable Kara believes a better future is within reach. In the interview, the Honorable Former Minister also related that he would like to support the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Kara proclaimed in his speech: “Azerbaijan has the land of Karabakh. It is legitimate. Armenia has to accept it. Different people have to push to find a solution that the two states can be in a better relationship. Peace is the right way to go. It is not easy. It will not happen tomorrow, but it could happen in the next several years if we work hard on it.”
According to him, “The State of Israel can help with different innovations, technologies that both sides need. For that reason, we can influence. We have the power to do it as we crossed the same thing in different states in the Middle East. Peace can happen if you influence that and convince the other side to support that.”
The Honorable Kara declared that this is what happened with the Abraham Accords, when Israel succeeded to make peace with four different countries: “Step by step, after Trump was elected, this has become a reality and the same thing could happen here. I think that after I visited Shusha last year with Rachel, we understand that you need different things to support the Karabakh area. I can help you to find a solution for everything that is necessary there. I know that there are a lot of people coming from Israel here to help but I think as the former Minister of Communication, Cyber and Satellite, I have the connections needed to help Azerbaijan.”
The respectable former minister called upon the State of Israel to use all of its power in order to help Azerbaijan obtain the conditions needed to make peace with Armenia. He also called upon the foreign experts at the conference to do everything in their power to help Azerbaijan: “Slowly, slowly, the conflict will subside if we work together. If the world says something together, it will be more powerful than just Azerbaijan or Israel saying something.”