BAKU: Baku Rubbishes Turkish Website Report


AzerNews Weekly, Azerbaijan
April 27 2006

Azerbaijan will launch an attack on Armenia in the coming days, a
Turkish report has said. Azerbaijani officials have dismissed it as
groundless. Turkish website quoted diplomatic sources as
saying that the Azeri government has made serious preparations for
liberating Upper (Nagorno) Garabagh from occupation and that Baku
has passed a decision to restart hostilities.

Armenia has occupied 20% of Azeri territory in defiance of
international law since the war broke out in the early 1990s which
has claimed thousands of lives and displaced 700,000 of Azeris from
their homes. The report linked the expanding US-Azeri relations to
the military action to be waged in Garabagh, saying that US President
George Bush welcomes the idea of launching military action. The website
also indicated that the operations would affect the oil price. Armenian
Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said the Garabagh conflict could
not be settled through war, which is confirmed by EU representatives.

“Military action by Azerbaijan may become its last mistake,”
he said when commenting on the Turkish site’s report in a news
conference held jointly with Austrian Foreign Ministry Secretary of
State Hans Vinkler. “Azerbaijan may restart war only when all hope
for peace is gone. However, the Azeri leadership can’t make this
decision on its own,” Oskanian said. Oskanian added that Armenia
would closely follow the talks on the Garabagh conflict to be held
during President Ilham Aliyev’s upcoming visit to Washington. Armenian
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian could not help voicing his concerns
over Azerbaijan’s warnings about the resumption of military action
and the country’s growing military expenditure. “We are not afraid
of war but don’t want it to flare up. An agreement [ceasefire] on
ending hostilities was reached in 1994 with Russia’s mediation. Our
troops have already taken preeminent defense positions and we have
been invigorating our positions with engineering facilities over the
past 12 years,” he said. He said the Caucasus is a very small area,
which makes regional countries dependent on each other. “For this
reason, a resumption of military action could bring about negative
consequences for us,” the Armenian defense chief said. Sarkisian
claimed that Azerbaijan’s statements that its military spending
has doubled are nothing but “blackmail”. Former Armenian foreign
minister Alexander Arzumanian said he does not expect any drastic
changes in the conflict resolution. “However, considering Azerbaijan’s
statements made following the two presidents’ meeting in the French
town of Rambouillet, it is not ruled out that this country may resume
military operations.” Azerbaijan threatened to use force to free its
territories from Armenian occupation after the latest unsuccessful
round of talks between the two countries’ leaders. The Azeri Defense
Ministry spokesman, Ilgar Verdiyev, said the report contradicts
reality and peace talks are underway. The Foreign Ministry official,
Tahir Taghizada, declined to comment on such “rubbish” published by
the Turkish site. He said Azerbaijan is still adhering to a peaceful
option to resolve the dispute, but warned that the Azeri people’s
patience was not boundless and the country “won’t negotiate for
the sake of negotiating”. If the talks yield no fruit, Azerbaijan
reserves the right to regain its lands no matter what it takes,
Taghizada said. The outgoing US ambassador to Azerbaijan, Reno Harnish,
said on Friday it was necessary to get rid of the military rhetoric
to resolve the long-standing dispute. “A resumption of hostilities
in the Caucasus could completely destroy the region.” The diplomat
said the negotiations to settle the conflict had intensified over the
past two years. “Tangible results have been achieved in agreeing the
principles of a fair and lasting peace,” Harnish said, adding that
Washington would continue to do its utmost to accomplish the goal.

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