Azeri Parliament Speaker Says Not Time for War

BAKU (Armenpress)–An unexpected warning came from Baku against the background of senior official’s insistent threats to resume hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh if the negotiations failed.

At a recent parliamentary session–Parliament Speaker Murtuz Aleskerov condemned his government’s threats of military action–saying that it would be irresponsible to opt for a military settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Aleskerov claimed that Azerbaijan was not ready to go to war now–stating that the enemy had an advantage because of "military bases occupied by a foreign state (Russia) deployed on its territory."

There was a quick and severe backlash to the speakers commen’s from top government officials including President Haydar Aliyev. Baku-based Zerkalo daily published Aliyev’s statemen’s saying that–"if the public wants war–as commander-in-chief–I will take the appropriate steps to appease them." The daily also said that the recent meeting with Armenia’s President Robert Kocharian proved once again that attempts to settle the conflict peacefully yielded no results–thereby justifying the Azeri’s inclination for war.

The daily writes that the idea of holding direct talks between Baku and the Karabakh "separatists," whom the newspaper referred to as "Azeri citizens," was recently put on the agenda. Some opposition figures believe that such a move by Baku might be construed as Azerbaijan’s recognition of Nagorno Karabakh as a party to the conflict.

"However–one should take into account the fact that when the parliamentary leaders of Azerbaijan–Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh signed the Bishkek cease-fire agreement on May 12–1994–initiated by the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly–some Baku analysts noted that by signing the Bishkek protocol Azerbaijan did recognize Nagorno Karabakh as a party to the conflict," the daily says.

"It is interesting to see that international mediators are also calling for a direct dialogue between Baku and Stepanakert. Contacts with the Nagorno Karabakh separatists during negotiations can hardly be avoided," the Azeri daily says.

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