BAKU (Today’s Zaman)—Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister Safar Abiyev told OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen that his country is seriously preparing for war against Armenia to “liberate its territories from occupation.”
“Azerbaijan is seriously preparing to liberate its territories,” Abiyev reportedly told the co-chairs, the defense ministry’s press release said on Friday.
Abiyev defended his comments by referring to the traditional practice of other countries, saying that every country would act similarly in these situations. In the statement Abiyev emphasized the necessity of implementing current international norms and provided examples of situations in which international law was successfully implemented.
Abiyev also criticized the activities of the Minsk Group and said that while diplomatic overtures of the mediators have not produced any results, Azerbaijan has not yet lost its hope in the group.
Ziyafat Asgarov, the deputy speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament, told reporters in December of last year that Azerbaijan reserves the right to liberate its occupied territories. When asked whether war was on the agenda, Asgarov said, “You will see it very soon.”
Novruz Mammadov, the director of the department of foreign relations in the presidential administration of Azerbaijan, told ANS TV channel on Saturday that it is natural for Azerbaijan to intensify its war rhetoric, pointing to the failure of mediators to bring about peace in the conflict.
“The only job of the international community and OSCE Minsk Group is to make Armenia accept the proposals on the table,” Mammadov said.
“It is very natural that Azerbaijan increase its military calls because we have been negotiating for many years already. Because the talks have not produced the outcome we want, the Azerbaijani president [Ilham Aliyev] is highlighting the right of Azerbaijani army to liberate our territories and this is only natural,” Mammadov concluded.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic authorities reacted to Abiyev’s comments, releasing a declaration that the Armenian troops were constantly training to repel any attempt by Azerbaijan to seize the region back, AFP quoted Interfax news agency as saying on Saturday.
The statement said Karabakh forces were ready “if necessary, to ensure that any encroachment by the enemy meets with adequate retaliation.”