BAKU—Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev used his speech on his country’s independence day on Tuesday to threaten Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh saying “the fate of this country [Armenia] will be very dark,” if Armenia does not withdraw “from the occupied territories.”
“We will allocate funds for strengthening our military capabilities as much as we need to and further purchase the most modern weapons,” added Aliyev unequivocally asserting that “Nagorno-Karabakh will never be granted any legal status.”
“As long as the lands are under occupation, the war is considered unfinished. I repeatedly said that the war is going on. The first phase of the war ended. If Armenia doesn’t want the second phase to start, then it should make correct conclusions and withdraw from the occupied lands by itself. Only then it can be on the map as an independent Armenian state,” added Aliyev.
Aliyev also reiterated his assertions that Armenia was country occupying “historic Azerbaijan territory,” stopping short of repeating his earlier statements that Azerbaijan will liberate Yerevan.
Reaction from Stepanakert and Yerevan was swift.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s presidential spokesperson David Babayan told Public Radio of Armenia that Aliyev’s statements discredit himself and Azerbaijan adding that refusing to recognize that there are two Armenian states in the region was futile.
“That train has left the station,” said Babayan.
The presidential spokesperson also outlined that on the same night as Aliyev’s speech, the ceasefire violations by Azerbaijan’s forces on the Karabakh-Azerbaijan border resulted in the deaths of one Armenia and two Azerbaijani soldiers.
“These actions only destabilize the situation, causing harm to the negotiation process. Such attacks are usually organized on holidays or before the visits of the Co-Chairs. They pursue the aim of gaining dividends and diverting the attention of the people from domestic problems,” added Babayan.
Speaking to Armenpress, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan warned that “Consequences of this bellicose policy are well known and another adventure of that kind would have disastrous consequences for Azerbaijan in the first instance.”
“Baku has laid the ground for the escalation of military conflict between Azerbaijan and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, not its resolution,” Kocharyan told Armenpress.
“Baku laid the groundwork for its genocidal policy, which was expressed through the mass killing of the Armenian population on the territory of Azerbaijan, the ground for ethnic cleansing in and around Nagorno Karabakh, unleashing a large-scale military aggression against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic,” added Kocharyan.
The Deputy Foreign Minister the only positive step taken by Azerbaijan to resolve the conflict was a meeting in 1993 between then Azerbaijani president Haydar Aliyev, Ilham’s father, and the leader of the Nagrono-Karabakh Republic in Moscow, which led the groundwork for the 1994 ceasefire agreement.
“The current President of Azerbaijan does not understand that by recognizing the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic—at least as a party to the talks–Azerbaijan (and Ilham Aliyev’s father) contributed to the only real progress in the negotiation process,” explained Kocharyan.
“The current President of Azerbaijan not only torpedoes the process of resolution of the Karabakh conflict with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group, but also lays the groundwork for a new military conflict by laying claims on Armenian lands,” said Kocharyan.
He added that Azerbaijan’s policy serves only one purpose—to preserve the authoritarian and corrupt regime by futile attempts to unite the Azerbaijani society around dissemination of hatred toward Armenians.
Kocharyan added that the Azerbaijani leadership fails to understand that “the power of the state is in the love for its own people, not the hatred toward neighboring countries.”
Aliyev Calls For Regime Change In Armenia
Despite mounting criticism by Western governments, and watchdogs for his government’s dismal human rights record, Aliyev used his independence day speech to urge Armenians to topple their “dictatorial” government, calling it an essential step for establishing peace.
“As long as Armenia is led by a criminal, corrupt and dictatorial regime the situation in Armenia will continue to deteriorate,” Aliyev said in a speech according to RFE/RL.
“Therefore, if the Armenian people want to live in peace with neighbors they must first of all get rid of their criminal, blood-thirsty and illegal regime and send it to the annals of history,” added Aliyev.