BAKU (AFP)—Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has said that longstanding talks with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are in their “final phase”, suggesting significant progress in negotiations.
“The negotiating process has seen positive dynamics and I can say that it has already entered its final phase,” Aliyev said Saturday at a summit of Turkic-speaking nations in Azerbaijan, state news agency Azertaj reported.
“The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can only be settled in accordance with the principle of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity…. The conflict is a great problem not only for Azerbaijan, but also for the whole region, and is a major barrier to regional development,” he added.
Aliyev was speaking at the summit of Turkic-Speaking countries, which convened over the weekend in Nakhichevan and was attended by Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
Gul, delivering a speech at the summit, also touched upon the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, once more voicing Ankara’s support for the territorial integrity of neighboring Azerbaijan. Turkey’s efforts for normalization of its relations with Armenia, which have recently gained momentum, display Ankara’s contribution to both regional and global peace, Gul said.
“The time has come for a resolution of all disputes in the Caucasus on the basis of the protection of the territorial integrity of regional countries — particularly the dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia. We especially attach great importance to the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and we believe the occupation of Azerbaijani territory should be ended at once,” he said. “We also believe the time has come for this as well. We hope for a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute through dialogue and diplomacy, and in this way that peace prevails in the entire Caucasus. However, no doubt, the first step for this will be ending the occupation [of Nagorno-Karabakh].”
Gul also had a warning to the Armenian Diaspora.
“Being at a distance from Armenia, Diaspora should not throw obstacles in solutions to the regional problems. I see some countries carry out such policy to preserve national identity. It is not right. Diaspora should assist activities aimed at establishing new cooperation and peace in the Caucasus, if they are concerned about Armenia’s future,” said Gul.