Pashinyan’s Office Calls Aliyev’s Claims ‘Ridiculous’
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev lashed out the international mediators brokering a settlement to the Karabakh conflict, calling the OSCE Minsk Group’s efforts and meetings between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan “meaningless.” Furthermore, Aliyev boasted about the April 2016 War, in what was deemed as an ominous threat by a former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan.
In an interview broadcast on Azerbaijani television Monday, Aliyev took issue with the OSCE Minsk Group’s position that there cannot be a military solution to the Karabakh conflict. He invoked the United Nations charter saying nations have the right to defend themselves.
“Their [the Minsk Group’s] main point is that the problem cannot be solved militarily,” he said. “Who said that? We expect more serious, clear and targeted statements from the mediators.”
“In essence, no negotiations are held right now,” said Aliyev. “The video conferences of the [Armenian and Azerbaijani] foreign ministers are meaningless and are only leaving the impression that the Minsk Group exists.”
“As I have said before, we will not negotiate for the sake of negotiating and we want substantive negotiations without any change in their format. In that case, we will participate in them. Otherwise, I see no need for pointless negotiations,” Aliyev added.
The Azerbaijani president’s comments come a week after a video conference between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Elmar Mammadyarov, attended by the Minsk Group co-chairs.
This was Aliyev’s most brazen attack on the mediators. He said that the OSCE Minsk Group negotiations have not yielded any results.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s spokesperson Mane Gevorgyan responded to Aliyev’s comments about the Karabakh conflict settlement issues saying the matter cannot be unless Azerbaijan recognizes the rights of the people of Artsakh, including the participation of Armenians of Artsakh in the negotiations about their own fate.
“Prime Minister Pashinyan has proposed a clear formula for making the negotiations productive. Any solution to NK conflict should be acceptable for the people of Armenia, people of Artsakh and people of Azerbaijan. This formula is accepted by the international community, but it’s not accepted by Mr. Aliyev, who claims that the settlement must be accepted only by the people of Artsakh,” Gevorgyan said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“And he accuses us of fascism. And why does he regularly claim that the Karabakh issue has a military solution. Our response is the same: if the issue has a military solution, the citizens of Artsakh solved the issue long ago. Mr. Aliyev blames the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs, Armenia and historical justice in the failure of the settlement of the conflict, but he should blame only himself for abandoning the constructive field of the discussions long ago,’’ Gevorgyan wrote.
“There is no change in our position, nor can there be any. That is because our position is the position of justice. Our position is based on both historical justice and the international law… No change in our position is possible. The conflict must be resolved within the territorial integrity of our country,” Aliyev said.
“Justice is on our side,” Aliyev said in Monday’s interview referring to the 2016 April War. “We have shown that we are right both in the international arena and on the battlefield, and let no one forget about the April War.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Richard Kauzlarich in a Twitter post called Aliyev’s remarks about the April War a “very ominous statement.”
“Rather than serious negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, President Aliyev blames/belittles Minsk Group mediation – hints at military option,” added Kauzlarich.
Aliyev’s interview boils down to a ultimatum to the Minsk Group co-chairs: either call Armenia an aggressor or I will deal with it in my own terms.
The Azerbaijani president cited various examples of Armenia’s faults and what he claimed were insufficient reactions by the Minsk Group co-chairing country leaders. Calling Armenia a “fascist” country and a “dictatorship,” Aliyev blamed the “Armenian lobby” for influencing Western governments to what alleged was siding with Armenia.
“The Armenian Prime Minister [Nikol Pashinyan] says that ‘Karabakh is Armenia…’ Why doesn’t the Minsk Group respond to this? Why can’t they say that this statement is in fact destroying the essence of the negotiations that have been shaped by the Minsk Group? Armenia has been seeking to change the format of negotiations for two years now and has stated that Azerbaijan must negotiate with so-called leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh. Has there been a relevant response to this? No! It is answered with abstract words and beating around the bush. But those times are over. We demand clarity,” Aliyev said. The Azerbaijani leader called the inauguration of Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan in Shushi in May a “provocation,” and accusing Armenia of illegally settling people in Artsakh, citing the relocation of some Syrian-Armenians there as an example.
“Over the past few years, we have been urging them [the co-chairs] that a new mission must be sent. During these 10 years, Armenia has brought Armenians from Syria and other places and keeps them there by force. It [Armenia] changes the historical names of our cities and builds churches in the occupied territories,” asserted Aliyev.
Hours before the interview aired on Monday, Azerbaijan’s State Security Service announced the arrest of three senior officials of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on embezzlement charges, reported the Turan news agency, which also called into question whether Mammadyarov will stay in his position.