BAKU: Aliyev Says No To ‘Second Armenian State’


AzerNews Weekly, Azerbaijan
June 1 2006

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 Upper (Nagorno) Garabagh 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. Upper Garabagh, 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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