TODAY.AZ / Politics

President Aliyev says no to 'second Armenian state'

02 June 2006 [09:10] - TODAY.AZ
President Ilham Aliyev has said Azerbaijan will never come to terms with the loss of its lands and with the establishment of the second Armenian state on its territory.

Azerbaijan is the victim of Armenian aggression and has nonetheless made concessions by respecting the ceasefire agreement signed 10 years ago.

In fact, it is Armenia who has occupied Azerbaijani lands and has to vacate them now, Aliyev said in an address at the NATO spring session in Paris on Tuesday. As originally anticipated, Aliyev mainly focused on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The president cited specific facts and documentary evidence to support Azerbaijan's cause and accused Armenia of breaking international legal norms. Aliyev said about 20% of Azerbaijani territory was under Armenian occupation and that the country was home to more than a million refugees and IDPs.

This is a serious problem for Azerbaijan and a threat posed to the entire region. The head of state added that all countries of the world apart from Armenia had recognized Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. He stressed that this should serve as a vector for the conflict settlement.

President Aliyev reiterated that Azerbaijan was interested in a settlement based on the principles of international law. "Azerbaijan demands that Armenia withdraw its troops from the occupied territories," he said, adding that the OSCE fact-finding mission had established the looting and desecration of cultural and historical monuments and cemeteries on the Armenian-occupied territories.

Nagorno Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, has both Azeri and ethnic Armenian population. It was occupied by Armenia in early 1990s, along with seven other Azerbaijani districts, after large-scale hostilities that killed up to 30,000 people and forced over a million Azeris out of their homes. The ceasefire accord was signed in 1994, but peace talks have been fruitless so far and refugees remain stranded.

The Azerbaijani leader also drew comparisons between the rapid economic development in Azerbaijan and the profound recession in Armenia, noting that the gap would be even more abysmal in a matter of three to five years.

Then the floor was opened for a question-and-answer session. The head of the Armenian delegation, Mger Shakhgeldian, said Azerbaijan was continuously saying that it was in favor of a negotiated settlement and asked the president whether Baku was prepared for compromise.

President Aliyev said Azerbaijan had not occupied any country's territories to make any compromises. "It is Armenia which has taken over Azerbaijani lands. The fact that Azerbaijan has maintained a ceasefire for 10 years is the biggest compromise we can make."

This question by the Armenian delegation did not go down well with NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Pierre Lelouche, who enquired why the Armenian president was not attending the session. President Kocharian's presence could set the scene for the continuation of dialogue between the two countries, he said and expressed regret at what he described as timidity on the part of the Armenian leader.



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