Elchibey Says Russia Has No Influence in Azerbaijan

MOSCOW (Interfax)–Leader of the opposition Popular Front of Azerbaijan–ex-president Abulfaz Elchibey says that Russia has no influence in Azerbaijan.

However–he said–regarding the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict–that its settlement entirely depends on Russia’s position.

"We can come to terms with Armenia as Armenia wants to restore peace and good relations with Azerbaijan. But Russia does not give us such an opportunity. Moscow needs instability in Georgia–Armenia and Azerbaijan to justify its military presence in the region," he said in an interview with Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta–published on Wednesday.

He said once again that he opposes the continuing presence of foreign troops in Azerbaijan. He noted–however–that in order to counterbalance the military threat posed by "Armenia–Iran and Russia," Azerbaijan may allow NATO to set up bases on its territory.

According to Elchibey–if free presidential elections are held in Azerbaijan he will take part in them–and win.

He announced that if he becomes president–he will pay more attention to finding a settlement of the Karabakh problem and strengthening the Azerbaijani armed forces. He said in this connection that a military settlement of this conflict is not ruled out.

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