Ilham Aliyev: Karabakh Armenians' safety guaranteed

Ilham Aliyev: Karabakh Armenians' safety guaranteed

The rights and safety of ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh will be fully respected, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview to Nikkei newspaper

The Azerbaijani President said he would not rule out what he termed ‘cultural autonomy’ for ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

He said he is open to a trilateral meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Moscow, but claimed that "counterproductive and provocative statements" by the Armenians render "negotiations senseless."

"With this Armenian government, unfortunately, the prospect for a peaceful settlement is very remote. Counterproductive and provocative statements and actions on behalf of the Armenian leadership make the negotiations senseless. Because the main topic on the negotiation table has always been the liberation of territories of Azerbaijan in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions. When the Armenian prime minister declares that "Karabakh is Armenian," declares that Azerbijan must negotiate with the so-called Nagorno Karabakh authorities, and when he orders a ballistic-missile strike on the peaceful city of Ganja and daily attacks on other cities of Azerbaijan, there is not much room for negotiation. Therefore, we had to prove to the Armenian government that they cannot afford any longer to make aggressive steps without any punishment.," the Azeri leader explained.

"We are punishing them on the ground. We are liberating our territories. Every day almost I announce new cities and villages which have been liberated from the occupation. Armenia is suffering a very bitter defeat on the battlefield. Therefore, of course, they must be more reasonable. The matter of liberation of the territories is happening. We wanted to achieve it through peaceful talks. But due to the Armenian unconstructive position and provocative steps, it was not possible. Therefore, we are now liberating our territories on the battlefield," he said.

Stressing that Azerbaijan will never agree to the holding of a referendum in Nagorno Karabakh, Aliyev said he was not against the introduction of observers and peacekeepers in the region, but that Baku would present its own conditions.

"All territories of Azerbaijan must be liberated," Ilham Aliyev stressed.