Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev hit out at international mediators on Monday, saying that they are trying to reinforce the ceasefire regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone at the expense of his country’s territorial integrity.
“The co-chairs [of the OSCE Minsk Group] are trying stabilize the situation along the Line of Contact and dealing with other issues unrelated to the essence of the problem. Such a situation is unacceptable and inadmissible. It must be changed,” Aliyev said in a speech in Baku cited by 1news.az.
Aliyev said that the United States, Russia and France, which co-head the Minsk Group, must help to “ensure Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity recognized by the international community.” “Occupation forces must be withdrawn from Azerbaijan’s territory,” he said, speaking just days after the co-chairs’ latest visit to Baku and Yerevan.
Confidence-building measures aimed at preventing deadly skirmishes along the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontline have been a key focus of the mediators’ activities in the last few years. In particular, they have urged the warring sides to withdraw snipers from frontline positions and work out a mechanism for joint investigations of truce violations. This idea has been backed by the Armenian side but rejected by Baku.
The mediators appear to have made no new formal peace proposals since Aliyev and President Serzh Sarkisian failed to agree on the most recent version of their Basic Principle of a Karabakh settlement at a meeting hosted by Russia two years ago. They are now trying to organize a new Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in the coming months.
Aliyev again accused the Armenians of stalling for time and threatened a military solution to the Karabakh dispute. But he also said, “We are seeking a peaceful resolution of the conflict for now. I think that possibilities of that have not yet been exhausted.”