STEPANAKERT (ArmRadio)—The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s statements on Tuesday on provision of autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) are absurd and cannot be taken seriously, Artsakh President Spokesperson David Babayan said in an interview.
“This is a provocative statement. Autonomy means return to the past. How can Artsakh refuse from independence and become a colony, a concentration camp within Azerbaijan?” Babayan said. He deemed the statements “ridiculous” and added that “it’s not a matter of discussion.”
The comments come after Aliyev said in an interview with RIA Novosti that “reasonable compromise on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement is possible,” and suggested that “the region could become an autonomous republic.”
According to Aliyev, there can be no compromise on the “territorial integrity of Azerbaijan,” as Baku would “never agree” to the Nagorno-Karabakh independence. “But there can be compromise on the issues of local self-government… in the future, if we manage to agree, it [Karabakh] may become an autonomous republic,” Aliyev said.
Babayan said “the statement means Azerbaijan is not ready for a comprehensive settlement. He added that Azerbaijan should first think about provision of autonomy to other nations living on its territory – Talyshs, Lezgins and others. “There is no alternative to provision of self-governance to those peoples, because if the pressures continue, new conflicts could emerge,” Babyan noted.
The Spokesman, however, notices a positive dynamic in Aliyev’s statements. “In the past he was speaking exceptionally about the destruction of Karabakh, today he’s speaking about the willingness to provide autonomy. One day he may come to the understanding that Artsakh should be granted independence, while the other nations should get autonomy within Azerbaijan,” he noted.
As for the visit of the OSCE Misnk Group Co-Chairs to Nagorno-Karabakh, Babayan said “they always visit Artsakh during regional visits, provided that the weather conditions are good. There are exceptions, when the visit is aimed at organizing meetings between the Presidents or the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“Thus, we expect the Co-Chairs to visit the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic at the end of the week and we hope the weather will not create any difficulties,” Babayan concluded.
He has labeled Aliyev’s statements on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as “an attempt to turn the truth upside down.”
Speaking to RIA Novosti today, Aliyev said “reasonable compromise on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement is possible,” and suggested that “the region could become an autonomous republic.”
“The statement of the Azerbaijani leader can be judged as yet another unsuccessful attempt to turn the truth upside down and distort the negotiation process,” Artsakh Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Tigran Balayan said in comments to RFE/RL.
“It is clearly enshrined in the statements of the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries Aliyev refers to that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh should be determined by a legally binding expression of will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Balayan reminded.
“It would be better for the leadership of Azerbaijan to cease deluding itself and misleading its own public. A week ago the leader of Azerbaijan publicly confessed the real essence of negotiations, stating that Baku was being urged to recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Balayan stated.