Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again stressed the importance of his country’s decade-long military buildup on Wednesday, saying that it will eventually help to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Aliyev pledged to continue to increase Azerbaijan’s military strength as he presided over a military parade in Baku that involved thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery systems, helicopters and warplanes. He stressed the fact that Azerbaijan’s military budget in 2003 was $163 million while now it is $3.7 billion.
“In recent years we have acquired around 100 combat and transport helicopters, dozens of warplanes, state-of-the-art air-defense equipment, armored vehicles, the most advanced tanks and artillery systems. They can destroy any enemy target,” he said in a speech cited by Azerbaijani media.
“The Azerbaijani state and people will never allow a second Armenian state to be created on its territory,” he said. “We will try to have that conflict resolved very soon. Naturally, there are political ways of resolving the problem, and a negotiation process is still going on. But our strong army and strong potential are reinforcing our position based on historical justice.”
“I want to once again emphasize that Nagorno-Karabakh is and will remain Azerbaijani territory,” declared the Azerbaijani leader.
Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders regularly threaten to end the Karabakh conflict by force if long-running peace talks with the Armenians yield no agreement. The Armenian side condemns and dismisses these threats, saying that Baku would suffer another defeat if it attempts to win back Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding the disputed enclave.