Aliyev’s Son Says Foreign Powers Will Not Protect Azerbaijan From Armenian Offense

BAKU–In an interview with an RFE/RL correspondent on April 14–Ilham Aliyev (son of Azeri president)–asked about possible concessions made by the Azerbaijani leadership in Key West during peace talks with Armenian President Kocharian–said that he has no information about any such "concessions" because the talks were confidential. "But I don’t believe Azerbaijan will agree to unilateral concessions," he said. Ilham Aliyev answered a question concerning Azerbaijan’s position on the optimum status for Karabakh. "Azerbaijan is ready to grant the highest degree of autonomy to Karabakh–and even the status equal to Tatarstan’s status within Russia"–Ilham Aliyev noted.

Ilham Aliyev praised Russia’s latest more active role in the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time he expressed his reservations about suggestions that Azerbaijan should host foreign (Western) military bases. According to Ilham Aliyev–"the idea that foreign military bases on Azerbaijani soil will help us to withstand Armenian aggression is erroneous."

It should be noted that the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry began military exercises by the Azerbaijan armed forces on April 9. Vagif Dargakhli–a representative of the Defense Ministry press-service–told RFE/RL in an interview that the military exercises were planned in advance and have no bearing on the recent Karabakh negotiations in Key West. He rejected mass media claims of mobilization and preparations for war. Dargakhli said the military exercises will continue until April 15.

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