President Ilham Aliyev: Azerbaijan is ready to grant highest possible autonomy to people who live in Nagorno-Karabakh and who will return to Nagorno-Karabakh (VIDEO)
The personal involvement of Russian president Dimitry Medvedev helps us come closer to a settlement, the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev stated in an interview with Euronews TV, commenting on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.
"Therefore, our expectations are optimistic and we think that if the Armenian side will show a constructive approach and will find the political will to make important steps forward, the conflict can be resolved very soon," the President said.
"As far as the negotiation process is concerned, the basic principles which were offered by mediators to both sides are in line with internationally recognised principles, which are territorial integrity of the countries and self-governance of the people. These two principles are not conflicting, they are both important, and both of them can be provided in the peace agreement," said Ilham Aliyev.
The Head of State said that Nagorno-Karabakh is a historic land of Azerbaijan and internationally recognised territory of Azerbaijan.
"For many years our position was very clear and several times I personally, publicly declared that we are ready to grant the highest possible autonomy existing in the world to people who live in Nagorno-Karabakh and who will return to Nagorno-Karabakh," Ilham Aliyev said.
Answering the question of the journalist, the President of Azerbaijan replied that it will be the subject for future negotiations and it could be a meaningful autonomy.
"The positive example of autonomy existing in Europe, I think, could be very attractive because it would be difficult for us to invent something new. We have positive examples in European countries. For instance in Italy, and Tyrol in Austria, and other places where central government pays a lot of attention, maybe much more attention, to autonomy, and financial support is much broader in order to provide decent living conditions for the people. We can do the same. Azerbaijan is a country with vast financial resources and for us it will not be a big problem to implement serious social and economic development programmes for Nagorno-Karabakh," the President of Azerbaijan stated.
Answering the question on current Armenian political leadership's approach to the problem, the President of Azerbaijan said that up until a certain point in time, there was a mood in Armenia that they would keep the status quo as long as they could, and they would succeed in doing that. "But important developments in recent months show that the international community and the co-chairs of the Minsk Group - the United States, Russia and France, and their leaders - made a very straightforward statement saying that the status quo is not acceptable. These are the events of recent months. There is a very clear understanding in the world that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not a frozen one. It is not. And the ceasefire is very fragile. The permanent violation of the ceasefire and the line of contact is of serious concern, I think, to all of us - to Azerbaijan, to Armenia, to the international community," said Ilham Aliyev.
The Head of State said that another important factor is that the balance of power between Armenia and Azerbaijan changed dramatically during the last several years. "Today, for instance, Azerbaijan's budget spending is ten times more than Armenia. The whole military budget for Azerbaijan is more than the total budget for Armenia and this is a reality. The more time passes, the gap between the two countries will be even bigger," said Ilham Aliyev.