BAKU: Aliyev Threatens To Suspend Garabagh Talks


Assa-Irada, Azerbaijan
March 17 2006

Baku, March 16, AssA-Irada
President Ilham Aliyev has reaffirmed official Baku’s intransigent
stance with regard to the long-standing Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict
over Upper (Nagorno) Garabagh.

“If the occupied territories are not freed, Azerbaijan may reconsider
its participation in peace talks with Armenia. If we see that Armenia’s
involvement in the peace process is just an imitation, we will suspend
the talks,” Aliyev told the second congress of World Azerbaijanis in
Baku on Thursday.

Upper Garabagh, which is internationally recognized as part of
Azerbaijan, has both Azerbaijani 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 commander-in-chief said that although the ceasefire was reached
12 years ago, the negotiations carried out so far have been fruitless
due to Yerevan’s inappropriate position.

“We can take part in the talks if we believe in their results. But
how long? This can’t go on forever. The patience of the Azerbaijani
people and authorities is getting exhausted.”

Aliyev reminded that Upper Garabagh is a historic Azerbaijani land
and Armenians came here only in mid-19th century. “They came to the
region as visitors, but afterwards acquired the quantitative majority
and paved the way for separatist sentiments,” he said.

“Official Baku will never accept the occupation of Azerbaijani
territories. The Armenian invading forces must pull out, while
Azerbaijani citizens must return to the land of their forefathers.

Only after this can normal relations be forged between Azerbaijan
and Armenia. And this is the only way to achieve a peace accord,”
the president said.

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