Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 19
Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is not and can not be a subject of discussion, said Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev in his interview with the head of the Russian news agency Rossiya Segodnya, Dmitry Kiselyov.
“We will never agree with granting independence to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian side is well aware of this,” Ilham Aliyev said.
“However, a reasonable compromise is possible by ensuring the security of population of Nagorno-Karabakh, implementation of various investment projects by Azerbaijan and a peaceful cooperation between the two peoples under the condition of liberation of territories beyond the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region,” said the president commenting on Kiselyov’s question on how Azerbaijan sees the conflict’s settlement.
“This corresponds to the proposals on which we are working and which have been put forward by the mediators,” he added.
Touching upon the main reason behind the conflict’s remaining unsettled, President Aliyev said that over the past 24 years, since the OSCE Minsk Group was created, Armenia has in every way blocked any slightest progress in the negotiation process.
“Our position is that people should live there, where they lived. Because they lived there for a long time: the Armenian population lived there for 200 years, while the Azerbaijani people much more, but that is not the point.” he noted. “For example, 95 percent of the population in Shusha was Azerbaijanis. They were driven out, their houses were either captured or destroyed, and currently, other people live in their houses.”
“This must end,” said the president.
“The Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh can live there as they lived before, we are not against that,” he added.
“What benefit did Armenia have from this conflict? Millions of Azerbaijanis suffered, but did Armenians become happier from this, did it become more secure, more prosperous, of course not,” said Ilham Aliyev. “Without normalization of relations with Azerbaijan, there can’t be development in the region. They will always live under certain pressure, thinking what if something happens.”
“We want peace in the region and our position is quite constructive, but we want our territories back,” he added. “Armenia wants peace but it doesn’t want to give back somebody else’s territories. That is the difference.”
“Undoubtedly, we can’t provide anything more than this compromise,” said the president. “As I have already said, there can be no compromise on the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, but there can be a compromise on the issues of local self-government, self-government of the Nagorno-Karabakh, and in the future, if we agree, it can be an autonomous republic.”
“The Armenian leadership is well aware of this, but they manipulate public opinion, create an image of the enemy, distort the essence of the negotiation process and present it in such a way that as if Azerbaijan wants to almost annihilate the Armenian population or to expel them. That is not true,” Ilham Aliyev said.