Azerabijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has again publicly described modern-day Armenia as “historic Azerbaijani lands,” saying that his countrymen will eventually regain them in addition to Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it.
“I want to once again state that Azerbaijanis must return to all of their historic lands,” Aliyev said in remarks reported by Azerbaijani media on Wednesday. “And our historical lands are not confined to Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent districts. If we look at the non-so-distant past, 19th century statistics, we will see that the territory where Azerbaijanis resided was very vast.”
“Modern-day Armenia is a historic Azerbaijani land. Therefore we will return to all of our historic lands,” he said, addressing internally displaced people during a visit to Azerbaijan’s second largest city of Gyanja on Tuesday.
Aliyev added that Armenian withdrawal from Karabakh and the surrounding districts should only be “the first phase” of a resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute. He did not specify just when he thinks that could happen.
Still, despite his tough talk, the Azerbaijani stopped short of explicitly renewing his threats of military action against the Armenians. He spoke instead of a growing development gap between Armenia and Azerbaijan which will eventually enable his oil-rich nation to prevail in the dispute.
Aliyev spoke less than two days after a deadly firefight in northeastern Karabakh which left one Armenian soldier dead. The Armenian military says that it was the result of an Azerbaijani commando attack on its combat positions.
The authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert say that Baku violated the ceasefire to undermine fresh talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers scheduled in Paris for Friday. The two men are due to try, together with international mediators, to build on some progress that was reportedly made by Aliyev and President Serzh Sarkisian at a meeting in Vienna in November.
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Wednesday again accused Baku of creating “additional obstacles” in the peace process. “But we must continue the negotiation process because there is no alternative to that,” Nalbandian told a news conference. He did not comment on Aliyev’s claims about “historic lands.”
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry was quick to dismiss Nalbandian’s statement as “laughable,” according to haqqin.az.