Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday accused Armenia of “dragging out” the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and again ruled out any peace accord that would fail restore Baku’s control over the disputed territory.
“We understand that Armenia is now trying to artificially drag out the issue, to portray itself as a constructive party in the negotiations,” he told Azerbaijan’s newly elected parliament. “But the truth is that at decisive moments Armenia backs away from issues previously agreed upon, again making unrealistic proposals that can not be accepted. Thus, it is trying to make the negotiating process open-ended and endless.”
Aliyev said the mediating powers -- the United States, Russia and France -- should not “allow this status quo to last for long.” “Or else, negotiations will become completely meaningless,” he said.
The statement came the day before the start of the OSCE’s summit in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana which is expected to see fresh talks between Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian. The mediators hope that the talks will yield an agreement or at least mark an important milestone in their long-running efforts to broker a Karabakh settlement.
Armenian leaders have long said that decisive progress in the peace process is contingent on Azerbaijan accepting the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination. That as well as Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity are the guiding principles of a framework peace accord put forward by the American, French and Russian co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Aliyev reiterated on Tuesday that Karabakh’s predominantly Armenian population can only determine the extent of the territory’s autonomy within Azerbaijan. “The Azerbaijani state will never grant independence to Nagorno-Karabakh, its primordial land,” he said. “That is impossible. The other party knows that.”
The Armenian side insists that it will never agree to Karabakh’s return under Azerbaijani rule.