Interview with Erkin Gadirli

Natig Javadli spoke with Erkin Gadirli, board member of the ReAL Movement and well-known lawyer.

Well-known lawyer, the board member of the ReAL Movement, Erkin Gadirli’s statuses always spark interest in the social media. At times the interest grew into a stir and caused a number of debates on social media pages. In our conversation with Mr. Gadirli we touched upon this and other matters.

Mr. Gadirli, the chairman of the National Council of Democratic Forces, Mr. Jamil Hasanli in his last interview to Meydan TV challenged the similarities between Kosovo and Crimea cases, and stated it was impossible to compare the two. In your Facebook status about the mentioned interview, you on the contrary brought up similarities of those two cases, and blamed the West in letting things go this far. How would you base your arguments?

Since all conflicts are different, there are no similar ones whatsoever. From this point of view, there is a truth in not comparing any two conflicts. Each conflict has its own structure due to its history, number of participants, reasons, motives (religious, ethnic and etc.). My approach was not about inner processes within the conflict, but rather about external influences. Regardless of what we say, Kosovo case is not a precedent, yet it is one in terms of political power. If we put aside the humanitarian aspects of the matter, in any case the harsh truth is that Serbia’s territories were divided as a result of intervention. Note that Serbia fulfilled all the obligations imposed; be it democratic elections, independent judicial system, market economy, or legal reforms. However, Kosovo was still taken away from them.

Are you disregarding the ethnic cleansing against Albanians of Kosovo, and 200,000 refugees forcefully deported from their homes?

These all happened, but on both sides. Serbs suffered, too.

However, without any damage to the Russians in Ukraine, Russia is dividing the country…

With this question, you are redirecting the conversation in a wrong way. That is, the fact is not about who started first, and how many people were killed. It is about intervention into a country’s territories.

However, there are big differences between Russia’s invasion and the West’s external interference.

Yes, there are differences, but the fact remains the same. You intervene into another country’s territories, then either annex those lands to your country or announce them independent.

However, the UN peacemakers took part in the Kosovo case…

Legitimacy of the UN peacemakers is quite doubtful. There are two resolutions of the UN Security Council, and NATO hasn’t been given such a mandate. Generally, there was no possibility of Kosovo’s separation from Serbia.

So, was Russia granted such an authority?

I, by no means, justify Russia’s actions. Moscow is openly violating international laws. However, this gave a pretext to Russia. When it all happened, Kremlin said rightly or wrongly, you have intervened into another country’s territories and forcefully separated them. In any case, when in 2007 Putin was asked about Russia’s stand in the Kosovo case, he replied: “You will see very soon.” In 2008 they attacked Georgia and invaded Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

And the day before Putin called Obama with a plea to stop the bloodshed in the Eastern Ukraine.

Obviously, this was a political blackmail. In other words, this is what their conversation with West looks like. Once again, I am not trying to justify either Russia or West. The question is about the harsh realities.

So who led to this harsh reality – Russia or the West?

This is a completely different issue (sounds like a verdict in a trial), it doesn’t matter. The matter is that the international security structure is about to collapse. However, Helsinki Final Act reinforced the notion of territorial integrity of states and inviolability of borders. Now, we don’t know how they will name it, but that structure has collapsed.

Mentioned structure has already been collapsed when four UN Security Council resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh were violated.

It is a little bit different. The problem is that the attitude towards us and our conflict was different from others. With this in mind, we are perfectly entitled to condemn the International community and the West. Look, they always mention “we recognize the territorial integrity of Georgia, with Abkhazia and South Ossetia being part of it.” Same thing about Moldova. When it comes to us they say “we recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity,” yet never add Nagorno-Karabakh to the statement. In other words, when it comes to Nagorno-Karabakh, the matter is left on the negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Therefore, opposition and the government, the society as a whole have all the rights to condemn the West in the matter. In this sense, disregard of four UN resolutions does not mean the collapse of the structure as a whole, since the territories still belong to us. At least, those seven regions are not questioned by the international community.

Your thoughts shared on social media raise a lot of interest. For instance, your status on the Khojaly anniversary caused a stir, a conflict between liberals and the nationalists. Even the chairperson of ReAL Movement, Ilgar Mammadov protested from the jail. Are you still supporting this idea? And in general, what was the base for that status?

That thought was based on the “rightful anger.” There are war crimes, I am talking about three people here.

How about the courts?

Perfect, let’s bring them to justice.

However, you think we need to poison, kill them….

No, just a moment. Yes, I said let’s kill, even though it is not right. The question is not about the facts, but rather necessity; crimes of this sort can not be left unanswered, no one should see Azerbaijan as weak.

How would you not leave it unanswered? By poisoning, killing or…?

If there is no way to bring them to the court, or international justice. The question is not whether my thoughts are right or wrong. I wrote it, if you didn’t ask, it wouldn’t even be remembered. Once again, my thoughts were based on a rightful anger, not the right solution. However, war crimes should not be left ignored. I still think so. You are mentioning the court, yes, let’s bring them to justice, if we can.

So you justify this position?

After that status I found myself in a very strange situation. Although, foreign diplomats didn’t mention it openly, I was still expected to make an apology. But who should I apologize to? Or maybe take my words back. Should I say, let’s forgive them, they have done it right? What is the solution? I confirm my opinion, yet not making any plans, not preparing in any sense. However, one of these two options had to be realized, and still can, again, one of these two option…

So, you did not change your mind?

This is my personal opinion, once again, these things can not be ignored. In this case, we look like the weak side. Sarkisian openly admitted the Khojaly massacre, and the opinion on Armenians changed gradually. This person openly admitted a crime, and became a president, and the world is officially communicating with him. Whereas, I wrote a personal thought on Facebook, and it now argued as if I committed a crime against humanity. However, I constantly emphasize that this is not the right way of doing things, yet in the war context, war crimes should be left unanswered.

Most of your opinions shared on social media cause a stir. Does it affect ReAL Movement at all?

It does, and the retraction letter by Ilgar Mammadov is an example of it. However, these sort of discussions have never been carried out in ReAL.

You write ReAL’s agendas, if any objections arise from the inside, would you “block” them like you did on Facebook?

I didn’t write the agenda on my own, it was a collective work based on compromise. There are points in the agenda, on which both me and other ReAL members disagree. As per the “blocking” on Facebook, it only happens to the irrelevant, unnecessary rudeness, and frivolous behaviors.

Doesn’t it contradict with democratic ideas?

No, it absolutely doesn’t.

Someone expresses his opinion with irony, or objection. How about the tolerant approach?

Tolerance towards what? Inept comparisons, rudeness, insults?

You consider Zamin Haji and Ali Novruzov’s comments to be insulting and foolish?

Ali Novruzov made a mistake and was inept.

However, by bringing the Munich events he made a point that even Jews were not supporting things done after the ever known Olympic Games.

Ali Novruzov was inept, this is a different case..

How can you justify your claims on ineptness?

I don’t want to publicize what I know about Ali Novruzov, this is a different matter.

However, he considers you to be his teacher.

This matter is now in the past, and the case is closed. Whatever he was writing long before my status was opposed to what I have said. The guy has changed directions, became more humanistic, it is his business. We have no personal issues between us. I blocked him today, when we meet tomorrow we will talk as usual. Facebook blocking has nothing to do with democracy.

How about tolerance?

Tolerance towards what?

Tomorrow when ReAL’s board members challenge you…

They do it anyway. For instance, Ilgar Mammadov in his letter called me irresponsible, and mentioned how strongly he condemns me. I even shared his letter. I don’t even know why you brought this matter up.

I brought it up, because anyone who opposes you on Facebook gets blocked by you, and this raises a lot of questions.

This is not a protest. It is about people who make irrelevant comments, rude jokes, and are inept. This is not a personal matter. You start a topic, this is not a joke. The situation is that if you do not use a smiley face in the status, they won’t understand it is a joke. In other words, it is so bad that you have to use a smiley face, or at least mention that it is a joke.

In this current, unfavorable situation, how do you think ReAL will go through it?

We will have to acknowledge the current state and keep moving forward.

Will you settle with them?


In that case, what will be your dividends?

It will be a long way. Meaning, the benefits will not be seen in near future.

The original interview was published on Meydan TV’s

Azerbaijani version


Ana səhifəNewsInterview with Erkin Gadirli