"We are ready to talk to the Armenians living in Karabakh" - Ilham Aliyev
Aliyev on contacts with Karabakh Armenians
For the first time, the President of Azerbaijan admitted the possibility of contact with the Armenian population of Karabakh, but under certain conditions. “We are ready to talk about this with the Armenians living in Karabakh, but not with people like Vardanyan, sent by Moscow, who lined his pockets with billions stolen from the Russian people. He was sent there from Moscow with a very clear agenda,” he said.
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At a meeting with the European Union’s Special Envoy for the Eastern Partnership, Dirk Schuebel, and senior officials of the European Union and a number of Eastern Partnership member states, Ilham Aliyev informed guests about the progress of negotiations with Armenia.
“We also wanted peace, but also the return of our lands”
Hinting that representatives of European bodies had received a message about peace from the Armenian leadership, Aliyev said:
“We heard these messages throughout the years of the occupation, but they weren’t sincere. We also wanted peace, but also the return of our lands, and they wanted peace without returning those lands. This was the difference.
Thus we had to resolve the conflict by force, and then by political means. If they really wanted peace, they would have responded to our proposal.
It was we who proposed to begin negotiations on a peace agreement immediately after the end of the war. This is a rare case in world history when a country whose territories have been under occupation for many years, which has restored by force, defeated the enemy and expelled them from its lands, then offers peace. We offered peace, despite the destruction and devastation of our territory by Armenia and the suffering of Azerbaijanis.”
“We do not understand what peace means in their understanding”
Aliyev noted that peace was offered to Armenia and “a kind of framework consisting of the well-known five principles.”
It was also noted that delimitation commissions had been established.
“It was we who tried to determine the basis for the normalization of relations. Armenia hesitated at the initial stage. And now they are talking about peace, but we do not understand what peace means in their understanding.
Our position is very clear. This has been repeatedly said before the public, including during my contacts with the leadership of the European Commission and the leaders of the countries that have participated and are currently participating in the normalization process, that is, the United States of America and Russia.
We should have two ways: the process of normalizing Azerbaijani-Armenian relations, and issues of rights and security pertaining to the Armenian minority in Karabakh,” Aliyev added.
“If they don’t want peace, that’s their choice”
Aliyev revealed the details of his conversation with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken:
“Just yesterday I had a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Blinken. We talked about it again. We fully understand that there should be two ways and they should not be confused. However, the statements made in Armenia are very contradictory.
They say they recognize our territory and sovereignty. Not only do they say it, but they signed up for it in Prague and Sochi. This means the sovereignty of our entire territory. We all understand what sovereignty is.
At the same time, they want to include issues related to the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan in the peace agreement. It will not happen. It’s impossible. We will not agree to this. Therefore we need an absolutely clear position of the Armenian government regarding its agenda.
Recently I said that if they want peace, then we want peace. If they don’t want peace, that’s their choice. We have not had peace in thirty years, and Armenia should not forget how it ended.”
“Mr. Pashinyan should know that we are hearing this”
During the conversation, Aliyev commented on some points from the recent speech of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan:
“If this country wants peace, then it must give up very dangerous rhetoric. Armenian officials have recently compared Azerbaijan to ISIS and al-Qaeda. I think this is a very dangerous rhetoric.
First, they themselves acted like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Ambassadors of the European Union visited the liberated territories. Armenians treated historical and religious heritage in the same way as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Not we. They are. They committed terrorist acts. They committed genocide. They destroyed our mosques. Not we.
However, by saying these words, Mr. Pashinyan should know that we are hearing this. He must think about what our reaction will be. In a word, this is not an easy question. I think it is important that Armenia, in essence, openly declares what it wants. If they want to talk about the rights and security of Armenians in Karabakh, then this will not work.”
“We are ready to talk to the Armenians living in Karabakh”
At the end of his speech, Aliyev mentioned contacts with Armenians of Karabakh:
“We are ready to talk to people who live in Karabakh and want to live there. We are ready for it. By the way, this process has begun. If there is no interference from some of the countries that I just mentioned, and no attempts are made to stop this process, then I think it could go well. However, this has nothing to do with Pashinyan and his government.
As I said, there should be a consensus between Azerbaijan, the European Union, the United States and Russia, between those countries and structures that Azerbaijan considers capable of assisting in this matter.”
Aliyev on contacts with Karabakh Armenians