Azerbaijani President: “We can not afford the conflict to be in such a frozen situation for another 15 years”

Azerbaijani President: “We can not afford the conflict to be in such a frozen situation for another 15 years”
# 06 February 2010 19:01 (UTC +04:00)
President Aliyev welcome to Euronews and thank you for welcoming us here. Nagorno Karabakh, first of all. How do you evaluate the chances of a peaceful resolution to the conflict?

We have hopes about that because the process which has continued for many years must lead to a peaceful resolution. But of course it will depend on the willingness of Armenia to comply to international law norms, to withdraw the troops from the international recognized territories of Azerbaijan, and then peace will be established.

So you’re rather optimistic, if I understand correctly.

I can tell you that the proposals of the mediators are based on restoration of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, (they) are based on the withdrawal of Armenian troops from all the occupied territories, beyond the administrative borders of Nagorno Karabakh, the return of internally displaced Azerbaijanis (IDPs) to that land and opening of all communications.

You’ve been quoted as saying that if the Armenian side does not withdraw its troops from the seven occupied territories of Azerbaijan and return this land, then Azerbaijan would take those provinces back through a military offensive. Do you maintain this position?

This is a fundamental right of Azerbaijan, as I mentioned before, given to us by international organizations, including the United Nations. We can not afford the conflict to be in such a frozen situation for another 15 years.

It has already been frozen for 16 years…

Of course, so there should be an end to that. We want to put an end to that by peaceful means, and we are working on that, but at the same time, our patience also has limits. I hope that what has been agreed basically before and what we are planning to agree during 2010 will put an end to conflict and peace will come to the Caucusus.

Nagorno Karabakh’s final status. Is there room for any concessions in this respect?

Azerbaijan will never agree to independence of Nagorno Karabakh, or to any kind of mechanisms or procedures which will eventually lead to secession. Interim status for Nagorno Karabakh can be one of the solutions. We live together. Armenians live here, Azerbaijanis lived in Armenia, so there was no problem in the past. So reconciliation must happen and after that, people, of course, will communicate and we will see what could be the final status of Nagorno Karabakh.

Even though it’s premature to anticipate a deal between Turkey and Armenia, how do you perceive the impact of the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation on the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict? Is it an opportunity or a threat?

We are concerned that if that happens regardless of any progress on Nagorno Karabakh, Nagorno Karabakh’s prospects for a peaceful settlement will be very weak. And what then? To our minds, it will lead only to more difficulties in the region. Therefore, I think that now it’s maybe a unique opportunity, when we have already the Turkish-Armenian process in progress, and at the same time we came to the final stage of the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, to combine the energy of those two processes so that no country in the region could consider itself abandoned, could consider that its national interests are ignored. Because if that happens, then tensions are unavoidable.
Touching biased critical attacks sometimes Azerbaijan faces, the head of state said they were unjustified in the international media, in so-called international human rights groups. These attempts to present Azerbaijan as undemocratic are absolutely unacceptable. We understand that as Azerbaijan’s importance is growing, the attemps to influence Azerbaijan are growing from various parts of the world. But as reports say, the people of Azerbaijan are living better and better. During the crisis year of 2009, our economy grew 9.3%, industry 8.6%, inflation 1.5%. Hard currency reserves are 20.4 billion dollars.

At the end of his interview, President Ilham Aliyev underlined that democratic process in Azerbaijan is very active and if somebody wants to use this factor in order to achieve something, Azerbaijan will not allow it!

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