Ilham Aliyev: "Azerbaijanis are not the enemy of the Armenian people"
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev gave an interview to Turkish television channel HaberTürk, in which he discussed the negotiation progress, the prospects of the OSCE Minsk Group and Turkey’s participation, and the fate of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The main points of the interview, presented here in translation by JAMnews.
• “The Azerbaijani army carried out a successful operation along the entire front and liberated several cities and villages. The operation to liberate them from the occupation continues successfully”.
• “The reason for this treacherous attack by Armenia [meaning the missile attack on the city of Ganja on the night of October 11—JAMnews] is that they are trying to expand the geography of this conflict in order to involve the Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which they are members”.
• “But I said that our revenge will be on the battlefield. We never take any action against civilians, all of our targets are military, and we eliminate them with precise, targeted fire”.
• “Our goal is to return the citizens of Azerbaijan to all the occupied lands. The ceasefire will make it possible to move this issue from a military to a political plane. I said that if Armenia does not behave properly, it will regret it—and I was right”.
• “The statement [on the armistice] said that the negotiations are being restored on the basis of the basic—that is, the Madrid—principles, which secure the return of the occupied lands to Azerbaijan. And they will be held between Armenia and Azerbaijan”.
• “The schedule [for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh—JAMnews] should be acceptable to us, and it cannot be a long-term process. We have waited thirty years. Our patience has run out”.
• “The whole world recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the co-chairing countries of the Minsk Group recognize our territorial integrity”.
• “I do not believe that any country will recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. All attempts by Armenia are intended only for a domestic audience”.
• “Our position is based on historical justice, international law and best practices around the world. During the first stage, the Armenian armed forces will be withdrawn from the occupied regions. This has long been established within the Minsk Group—five regions, then two regions, then from Nagorno-Karabakh itself, from Shushi, Khankendi [Stepanakert]. The citizens of Azerbaijan are returning to those areas, and negotiations on the future of Nagorno-Karabakh continue. But with new conditions”.
• “Azerbaijan is a multinational state. Thousands of Armenians live in Azerbaijan, primarily in Baku. Therefore, the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh should not worry. After we free them from the regime of this criminal junta, they will live in better, more reliable and secure conditions, and their well-being will increase, because currently in the area, poverty runs rampant”.
• “We will invest [in Nagorno-Karabakh—JAMnews], we will implement social programs there”.
• “More than 300,000 Azerbaijanis and about 200,000 Armenians live in Georgia. In some villages they live together, in the same village. There are no problems between them. They live like normal neighbors in Russia, in Ukraine, and in other countries. Why can’t we do that here?”
• “This is my appeal to the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh today. Let them know that the Azerbaijani people are not their enemy. The Azerbaijani people just want to live in the land of their ancestors. They have the right to do so. Let both of us live together. But banishing us so that they can live there is unfair. We can never agree to this”.
• “Sending peacekeepers to the region should take place on the basis of the consent of both countries, both Armenia and Azerbaijan. But we are talking about the territory of sovereign Azerbaijan. Without our permission, no country can send its peacekeepers here”.
• “The Minsk Group [facilitator of the negotiation process in the Karabakh conflict] was established in 1992. There are countries in this group that are not interested in this region at all. [It must] include countries that can truly serve to ensure peace. Naturally, we see our fraternal neighbor Turkey in this process. De jure or de facto, it does not matter, the main point is that Turkey is at the table”.
• “With regards to rumors about Turkey’s participation [in the battles] or the decision to transfer foreign forces here, this is an absolute lie. Turkish F-16 aircraft are located here. They flew here during the military exercise and stayed here. But they remain grounded, not in the air. None of them took part in this war. Not a single person from Turkey is participating in this war”.