"First, if they listen to what I say, message to Armenians in Armenia that we want to have peace with their state, we don't have territorial claims to Armenia though hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis lived in Armenia before the war were totally ethnically cleansed, and their cultural and religious heritage was totally destroyed. Nevertheless, we don't have any territorial claims," said President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev as he was interviewed by Euronews TV channel, APA reports.
"We think that Azerbaijanis, who were deported forcefully from Armenia, have a right to return when Azerbaijan and Armenia will normalize their relations and establish diplomatic relations. Another message to them is to clearly realize the current geopolitical situation and the balance of forces. For many years, leaders of Armenia were persuading their people that they have the strongest army in the world, that if the war starts they will come to Baku and that Azerbaijan will not fight for its lands, already agreed with occupation. All these narratives were absolutely false and were nothing more than propaganda. So, the war destroyed those narratives and not only that. It also destroyed a lot of ideological columns of the Armenian state. They realized that they lost the war and most probably it was very painful for them psychologically. So now, when we say that we want peace, it's not because we are weak and we are seeking peace. No, they know that we are much stronger. It’s because we want this black page of our history to be turned down. We don't want another war either today or ever in the future.
So for Armenian community, I think they should not oppose peace initiatives of international community. They should understand that if they don't sign peace agreement with Azerbaijan, situation in the future will be unpredictable. Geopolitical situation in the world and in the region is changing as we see very dramatically. And part of their hopes for their security vanished completely. Now they're looking for new security guarantors. Who is ready to have a standoff with Azerbaijan on the battlefield in this area, especially after what we demonstrated during the war and after we increased our defense capability after the war? Is there anyone ready to fight for Armenians against us? I doubt it.
So, also another message, which I already conveyed to the Armenian government is that in this particular situation for them the choice is not the best and the very best. For them the choice is among very bad and acceptable, but acceptable based on common sense, on international law, and on recognizing the rights of Azerbaijanis to live on their own land, which they deprived us for 30 years. And for Armenians in Karabakh, I'd like to remind them that we started contacts with them spontaneously. Actually, it was mainly people-to-people contacts when we started to build a new Lachin road, which passed through several villages where Armenian population live. I was informed that the contacts had been established between our road construction workers and Armenian community, and immediately they became almost friends. If in the first months of the construction, Russian peacekeepers were providing security for both sides, then they just left. There were no Russian peacekeepers and people easily communicated without them. So, it demonstrates that ordinary people, in their majority, don't have this hatred in their hearts.
And Armenians in Karabakh should not follow their so-called leaders. These “leaders” were lying to them all the time - current and previous - before the war, during the war that they were winning. Even when we took control of Shusha, they were telling that Shusha was under their control. They knew it very well. They should not become a hostage of today's clique, which captured power in Karabakh, and whose main objective is to provide their own interest.
Here in Shusha, there are free villas built during the times of occupation. If you're interested, maybe, they can show that to you. And these villas were built for the leaders of Karabakh Armenians. They built it for themselves. The city was totally in ruins. What you see now it's the beginning of our reconstruction process, including this “Qarabag” hotel, the mayor's office, hotels etc. They built three villas in the best part of the city for themselves - those people who today lead this so-called unrecognized republic. So, the Karabakh Armenians should understand that being part of the Azerbaijan society with security guarantees, we understand it, with their rights, including educational, cultural, religious, municipal rights, they will live normal life. They will stop to be a hostage of manipulation. And also, they should understand that situation, which they are in now today, will not change in their favor, if they continue to ignore us, if they continue to behave like we do not exist or live in so-called country, which has “president”, “ministers”, “parliamentarians”. This is all fake. We offer them normal life. I think if they listen to me, they should understand and they know that I mean what I say," said Azerbaijani President.