Azerbaijan is still not committed to a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Monday.
In that regard, he dismissed suggestions that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s decision to call a snap presidential election in April is aimed at speeding up the Karabakh peace process.
“I don’t think that all of a sudden there arose in Azerbaijan an unbridled desire to solve the Karabakh problem,” Sarkisian said after talks with his visiting Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev. “In the past Azerbaijan has had numerous opportunities to achieve a peaceful settlement of the conflict but unfortunately its actions have been such that we can now talk of only lost opportunities.”
“Whether or not three will be presidential or parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, whether they are pre-term or regular, the Karabakh conflict could be resolved only if Azerbaijan abandons its maximalist and unrealistic expectations from negotiations,” he told a joint news conference. “As long as they don’t give that up, remain in a daydream and continue to rave about seizing Yerevan and Zangezur, we cannot harbor serious hopes that the problem could be solved.”
He referred to Aliyev’s renewed claims last week that Yerevan and other parts of Armenia are “historic Azerbaijani lands” where Azerbaijani presence should be restored. That, he said, is a “strategic” goal of his regime. Also, Aliyev again ruled out any peace accord that would fall short of restoring Azerbaijani control over Karabakh.
Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders regularly say that Armenia is keen to cement the status quo in the Karabakh dispute. Yerevan denies that, saying that peace proposals made by the United States, Russia and France are largely acceptable to the Armenian side.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents pledged to intensify the Karabakh peace process at their most recent meeting held in Geneva in October. Their foreign ministers held follow-up meetings in December and January. The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group said on Sunday that both sides have expressed readiness to continue their “intensive negotiations.”