BAKU: Talks ‘hopeless’ and Azerbaijan ready for war with Armenia:

Baku Today, Azerbaijan
June 23 2006

Talks ‘hopeless’ and Azerbaijan ready for war with Armenia:

23/06/2006 19:23

International mediation over the disputed Nagorno Karabakh enclave
is "hopeless," oil-rich Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said,
vowing to retake it by "peaceful means or by war," in a speech to
the military on Friday.

Aliyev, who’s country fought its neighbour and fellow former Soviet
republic Armenia over control of the majority-Armenian enclave in
Azerbaijani territory from 1988 to 1994, also said he would use oil
revenues to beef up the military.

Oil will bring Azerbaijan 140 billion dollars over the next two
decades, Aliyev said and "there is no doubt we will use this money
to strengthen the army so that it can return our lands at any moment."

The president said international efforts to mediate the conflict were
"hopeless" and Azerbaijan was willing only to negotiate the restoration
of its full control over Karabakh.

Aliyev was speaking at a graduation ceremony of cadets at Azerbaijan’s
highest military academy, named in honor of his father Heydar Aliyev
whom the younger Aliyev succeeded as president in 2003.

Azerbaijan’s first major oil pipeline, which is operated by energy
giant BP and is backed by the United States, goes online on July 13
and will give the landlocked Caspian Sea an important export route
to Western markets.

In his speech, which was followed by a military parade with the
participation of troops, Russian-built helicopters and fighter jets,
Aliyev said "we will restore our territorial integrity by peaceful
means or by war."

Military spending in this predominantly Shiite Muslim country of
eight million has quadrupled to 700 million dollars in 2006 over
the past four years Aliyev said, adding that on Thursday he ordered
servicemen’s wages to be increased by 100 percent.

"We are buying modern armaments," Aliyev said without elaborating,
"our expenses in the military sphere will grow even more," he added.

Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan in the late 1980s, sparking a
six-year conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan that claimed 25,000
lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Despite a 1994 ceasefire, tensions remain high in the mountainous
region — one of the world’s most militarized zones.