On 10th anniversary of NK truce, leaders pledge possible

On 10th anniversary of Nagorno-Karabakh truce, leaders pledge possible
by AIDA SULTANOVA; Associated Press Writer

Associated Press Worldstream
May 12, 2004 Wednesday

BAKU, Armenia — On the 10th anniversary of the truce that ended
fighting Azeri-Armenian fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh but left its
status in limbo, Azerbaijan’s president on Wednesday pledged support
for peaceful resolution of the dispute, but raised the prospect of
military action.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave within in Azerbaijan,
for the past decade has been under control of an internationally
unrecognized ethnic Armenian government backed by forces who also
occupy parts of Azerbaijan adjoining the enclave.

Because of the dispute over the enclave’s final status, the
Armenia-Azerbaijan border is closed. Failure to resolve the issue is
seen as having discouraged investment in both countries because of
concern that another war over the enclave could erupt.

Armenian and Azerbaijani officials, including the country’s presidents,
have met repeatedly to discuss Nagorno-Karabakh, but with little
visible progress despite a wave of sessions in 2001 that many observers
believed foreshadowed an imminent settlement.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev underlined that Azerbaijan insists
Nagorno-Karabakh remain part of that country and that a resumption
of fighting could not be excluded.

“We are supporters of peaceful resolution of the conflict, but the
Azerbaijani people will not submit to the loss of its territory. If
talks do not give results, we will free our land at any cost,”
Aliev said. “Our army is capable of freeing occupied territory at
any moment.”

Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian, in a statement marking the
cease-fire’s 10th anniversary, said “We will observe the principle
of a peaceful regulation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

Aliev made his statements in a speech at a military institute in
Nakhichevan, an Azerbaijani exclave separated from the rest of the
country by Armenian territory.

“Azerbaijan is in a condition of war, our territorial wholeness is
violated and the army can undertake steps to restore the wholeness,”
he said.