Ilham Aliyev: Karabakh war could have stopped a month ago
Azerbaijan seeks to settle the Nagorno Karabakh conflict - restore its territorial integrity, return one million refugees and internally displaced persons to their homelands, and provide peace and stability in the region, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said in the interview with the Spanish EFE news agency, stressing that Baku has always been ready to stop the war.
"Our position have been already many times declared during this almost 40 days. On many occasions, I said that our task is to restore the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, return one million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons to their homelands, to the territories where they lived for centuries. And after that, to provide peaceful co-existence between Azerbaijani and Armenian community in that area. Our position is based on the common sense, on humanitarian grounds and is supported by international community," he said in the first place.
"Armenia, when they talk about compromise they do not say anything concrete. They talk only about self-determination. But self-determination is not a compromise on their side. They should be more accurate in their position because it is very ambiguous now. Therefore, we demanded the time-table for withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories. And we demanded it from the very first day of the clashes. So, if Armenia listened to us, and behaved in a reasonable way, today we wouldn’t have had the situation which we are now facing," Ilham Aliyev stressed.
"The war would have stopped maybe a month ago. Therefore, compromise from Armenian side should be very precise. And the time-table for withdrawal from part of Aghdam district which is still under occupation and from Kalbajar and Lachin should be presented to us. And Armenian prime minister should personally declare that. Not only do they give us the time-table, but they also do not say that they will liberate those territories. During all this time, since 27 September, never Armenian military-political leadership said anything about liberation of territories. In this case, they actually show disrespect to Minsk Group co-chairs, who elaborated these principles providing return of seven territories and they actually lead to more escalation," the Azerbaijani president noted.
"We don’t want to continue military operations. I said many times and can repeat today, if Armenian prime minister, personally him, the person who is responsible for this bloodshed makes such a statement, we are ready to stop immediately. I am a person who keeps his words, and we will do it. But he doesn’t say. He wants to win time, he wants to have the ceasefire in order to get some more military assistance. He wants to use this ceasefire in order to launch new attacks on Azerbaijan, and to regain back the territories which we liberated. That’s what he is after," the Azerbaijani leader explained.
"I had many meetings with him during the last two years. But all of them were absolutely useless and senseless. Except the first meetings where he promised me that if Azerbaijan gives him a time after the so-called revolution, he will make his homework, he will strengthen his position politically in Armenia. Then, he will be willing to work constructively in order to implement the basic principles. That was what he told me in the early months of his leadership in Armenia," he said.
"But after a year, he said completely different things. He said that there will be no centimeter of land to be returned to Azerbaijan. He said 'Karabakh is Armenia'. He said that Azerbaijan has to negotiate with the so-called 'authorities of this quasi entity Nagorno-Karabakh'. So, he did everything to destroy negotiation process. Therefore, at this point, I don’t see any sense meeting with him. Our foreign ministers met recently in Geneva. And I think, this is the proper format now for the communications," Ilham Aliyev said.
"They launched ballistic missiles from Armenian territory to Ganja, and it is proved. Though Armenian prime minister said it was not them, but it is ridiculous. Because ballistic missile launch is being monitored by the satellites. Everybody knows from where it was launched and what was the goal of that missile. It was deliberately hitting the civilian compounds in Ganja, two times. They hit Barda two times with very destructive “Smerch” missiles. 21 persons were killed and 70 wounded only by one attack. There have been many attacks. They attacked a funeral ceremony in Tartar. That is absolutely beyond any norms of human behavior. When people were burying the person who died they hit the cemetery and four people were killed. And the cluster bombs which they used have been verified by international media and NGOs," the Azerbaijani president noted.
"I said many times to all the countries, ‘stay away from this conflict’. It is our business, it’s our battle for territorial integrity. And there should be no attempts to internationalize the conflict. But Armenia did everything to do it. And the letter which Armenian prime minister sent to Russian president, not only demonstrates that they already admit their defeat, that we beat them on the battlefield, it also shows that they want to internationalize the conflict. They want to drag Russia into a direct participation on the ground, which is absolutely unacceptable. As far as I know, it was rejected by Russia and Russian foreign minister issued a statement about that," the Azerbaijani leader recalled.
"Iranian position was also articulated. Probably you heard about Iranian plan for the settlement, which provides territorial integrity of countries. And recently, the Iranian religious leader made a statement that Armenia should liberate internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan. So, this is a reaction of two neighbors. Position of Turkey is well-known. It always stands for international law and UN Security Council resolutions. Georgia, on many occasions before, also supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. This is a position of our neighbors. So, Armenia is in isolation. So, they want to internationalize the conflict. They want to exploit some fake news and some fake news from the history, in order to get support. But the best way for Armenia to act now is to admit their defeat, admit our victory and make a commitment that they will liberate the remaining part of the territories," Ilham Aliyev concluded.