"Armenians living in Karabakh will have neither special status nor independence" - Ilham Aliyev
Aliyev on construction of alternative road
In an interview with Azerbaijani state television, President Ilham Aliyev said that schedule and route of the new alternative road to the Lachin corridor had been agreed upon with Russia, and that Armenia was aware of this. He also added that during construction of the road, Azerbaijani builders and the local Armenian population were contact without the intervention of Russian peacekeepers.
“Armenians living in Karabakh will have no status, no independence, no special privileges. Both for the citizens of Azerbaijan and for them,” Aliyev said, commenting on the status of the part of Karabakh where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily stationed.
- Anti-Russian sentiment in Georgia stronger than after 2008 war, but why? Opinion
- “In case of pressure on Armenia, Iran will intervene”: opinion
- “Azerbaijan insists on fulfillment of fourth paragraph of tripartite statement” – Azerbaijani Foreign Minister
Ilham Aliyev gave an interview to state television AzTV during his visit to the town of Basgal in the Ismayilli region of Azerbaijan.
On agreeing to a date for the construction of an alternative road to the Lachin corridor
According to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the tripartite statement of November 10, 2020 “clearly states that a new road will be built, and its planning and approval shall be ensured within three years.”
“We built this road in just one year. Its length is 32 kilometers. Prior to that, immediately after the second Karabakh war we began negotiations with Russia regarding the path of this road. That is, this road did not appear by itself. We agreed on it.
“There were several possible routes, but in the end we chose this one. The Ministry of Defense of Russia agreed with us on this route and approved it. If it were otherwise, how could we build a road on territory under the temporary control of Russia,” Aliyev said.
He also commented on Armenia disputing the legality of the construction of an alternative road:
“If someone is trying to accuse us of doing something illegal or taking some kind of unilateral step, this is absolutely not true. We can prove it at any level.
“You can send a request to the official bodies of Russia and view all the documents on how this road was built, all the approvals. This route has been approved.
“Of course, we were not obliged to coordinate with Armenia, because this does not concern Armenia in any way. It’s just that Armenia was notified at which point there would be an exit to the Armenian border, and they, for their part, had to build a new road there. But unfortunately they didn’t. Why? To drag out time. There is no other reason.”
Azerbaijan agrees to build 4km section of road in Armenia
In his interview, Aliyev also touched upon the issue of building a part of the alternative road located in Armenia.
“When we started building a new Lachin road, we turned to Armenia through the Russians – I assumed that they would resort to such tricks – and suggested building a road on their territory. There are only 8-9 kilometers. They refused. They said no, we’ll build it ourselves. And when did they start doing it?
“Moreover, it is impossible to call this the beginning, because they are only now conducting a feasibility study. Then we sent an official notice to Russia. We sent notice that we are completing this road on August 5 and ask to move the posts of the peacekeeping contingent from the old road to the new one.
“When we sent them this letter, Armenia probably also got acquainted with it, and a day after that, Armenia said that we supposedly want to start the economic justification of this road and build it by the end of 2023. This is manipulation. A completely frivolous and inadequate step.
“We said that in this case, on August 5, we would enter the Lachin corridor, create posts and see how you move. After that a commotion began, and the Armenians living in Karabakh asked for more time, until the end of August. And we agreed to this – August 25, September 1, there isn’t much difference.
“At the same time, the Armenians living in Karabakh turned to us with a request that we also build a dirt road 4 kilometers long to a point that will be connected to the Armenian border. We agreed to this as well,” the President of Azerbaijan said.
On the resettlement of residents of the city of Lachin and nearby towns
According to Aliyev, people illegally settled in the city of Lachin and nearby towns should withdraw:
“Their presence there is essentially a war crime because it is contrary to the rules of the Geneva Convention. The occupying country cannot carry out illegal settlement on occupied lands. This is a war crime.
“Perhaps the Armenians living there, who came from Syria, Lebanon, do not know this, but the leadership of Armenia is well aware of it. We get messages from the area that they will not leave. I hope they do not test our patience again. Let them leave of their own free will. Where they go, we don’t care.”
Displaced inhabitants who left the Lachin region in the early 1990s during the first Karabakh war will soon return to their homes, the President of Azerbaijan announced.
“We must return to Lachin, to Zabuh, to Sus. I instructed the State Committee for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons to contact the residents of the city of Lachin, the towns of Sus and Zabukh, and we will soon return them to their homes,” he said.
On the rights of Armenians living in Karabakh
“Armenians living in Karabakh are our citizens. The sooner they understand this, and this process is already underway, the better it will be for all of us,” Aliyev stressed.
“In the process of normalization taking place today between Armenia and Azerbaijan, there is no topic of Karabakh. There were such attempts, but I never agreed with it. What does Armenia have to do with this? This is our internal business.
“Today there is no talk of any status at the negotiating table at all. What is this about? The rights and security of the Armenians living in Karabakh. And I said yes, their rights and security will be ensured by the Azerbaijani state, and I always do what I say.”
About contact between Azerbaijanis and Armenians in Karabakh
Aliyev gave an example of the neighborly attitude of Azerbaijanis and Armenians living in Karabakh during the construction of the new road:
“We saw this during the construction of the new Lachin road. When we had just started building the road, Russian peacekeepers as it were protected our builders from the local population, or they from us, our builders. I don’t know who was guarded from whom, in any case they were there.
“Some time later they left, and for the last six or seven months there was not a single Russian peacekeeper along the road at all, there was no need for it. Our builders were in contact with the local Armenians living there in the villages, some of whom even helped, thanked us for building such a high-quality road.
“So there is already contact, and this is very important, I also welcome this. People-to-people contact will serve long-term peace.”
“Armenians living in Karabakh will have neither status nor independence”
The President of Azerbaijan once again raised the issue of the status of the part of Karabakh where the Armenian population lives.
“Armenians living in Karabakh need to take the right step, to understand that their future is only through integration into Azerbaijani society. It’s impossible otherwise. We live in the real world. Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan from the economic, geographical and transport points of view, an integral part from the point of view of history and international law.
“If someone in Karabakh again, for the sake of some kind of populism or, as they say, out of fear, talks about some kind of status, independence, then you should know that he is first the enemy of the Armenian people, because the Armenians living in Karabakh will have no special status, no independence, no special privileges. Both for the citizens of Azerbaijan and for them. Their rights will be protected in the same way as the rights of the citizens of Azerbaijan, as well as the rights of the peoples living in Azerbaijan. This is the only way,” he said.
Aliyev on the construction of an alternative road