Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev branded Armenia a “colony” created on “ancient Azerbaijani lands” and run from abroad in a series of tweets that prompted a scathing response from official Yerevan on Wednesday.
“Our main enemy is the Armenian lobby ... Armenia as a country is of no value. It is actually a colony, an outpost run from abroad, a territory artificially created on ancient Azerbaijani lands,” Aliyev wrote on his official Twitter account late on Tuesday.
“We are conducting talks and at the same time building up our military strength,” Aliyev said in another tweet, adding that Baku would continue its efforts to isolate its neighbor, according to Reuters.
“Azerbaijan grows stronger and more powerful by the year, while Armenia weakens and declines every year ... We will continue our efforts to isolate Armenia.”
According to the AFP news agency, most of the brief messages were recycled from a long speech Aliyev gave last week to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment by his late father and predecessor Heydar of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party.
Armenian leaders responded to the tirade the following day. Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian accused Baku of racism and “blatant distortion of history.”
“Azerbaijan first appeared on the world’s political map only in 1918,” Kocharian said in written remarks. “They have never realized in Baku that a modern state derives its strength from love for its people, rather than a pathological hatred of the region’s indigenous peoples and their cultural-historical heritage.”
Deputy parliament speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, for his part, called Aliyev a “totalitarian leader of a totalitarian state.” “Aliyev shows by his cynical proclamations that there are still supporters of fascism in the 21st century, and that this ideology flourishes thanks to leaders like him,” Sharmazanov told AFP.
Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders regularly threaten to retake Nagorno-Karabakh and other Armenian-controlled territories surrounding the disputed enclave. They have used Azerbaijan’s massive oil revenues for a military build-up which they hope will eventually force the Armenians to return Karabakh under Azerbaijani rule.
President Serzh Sarkisian warned earlier this month that the Armenian military will respond “disproportionately” if Baku acts on its threats to end the Karabakh conflict by force.