BAKU: “Time Will Tell” Says Aliyev on Prospects for Karabakh Talks


Turan news agency, Baku
29 Apr 04

Strasbourg, 29 April: During today’s press conference in Strasbourg,
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev did not speak in Azerbaijani. All
journalists, including those from Azerbaijan, were told to ask
questions in English. Nobody explained the reason for such a strange
conduct of Ilham Aliyev.

Asked whether the political prisoners, including participants in the
October events (those arrested for post-election riots in 2003), might
be pardoned in near future, Aliyev said that this issue needs to be
“closed” soon.

As for the participants in the October events, a line has to be drawn
between those who “expressed their will and those who threw stones at
the police”. The trial is not over yet and it would be premature to
count them as political prisoners, Aliyev said.

On possibility of dialogue with the opposition, Aliyev said that he
proposed such a dialogue three times but received no response. “But if
the opposition displays its willingness, then this can be considered,”
he said.

Asked why the president’s press service invites to official events
only the pro-government mass media and journalists, Aliyev said that
it is up to them to decide who to invite and where. “It is impossible
to obtain an invitation to the president’s events by pressure.”

Armenian journalists asked Aliyev whether he will recognize Turkish
Cypriots’ independence as he promised. Aliyev said that Azerbaijan
will be in the first ranks of those countries which will do this when
the issue of recognition arises.

Responding to a question on prospects for settling the Nagornyy
Karabakh conflict, Aliyev said that there are no agreements and “time
will tell” how and from which point the talks will continue.

Asked to comment on the killing of the Armenian officer in Budapest by
Azerbaijani serviceman Ramil Safarov, Aliyev said that this case
should not be turned into a “show”. In 2003 alone, Armenian snipers
killed 20 civilians in Azerbaijan, he said.