Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev lashed out at Armenia in a video speech delivered at a session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. Aliyev called on the international community to help end Armenian “occupation” of Karabakh and surrounding lands.
“Armenia is trying to disrupt the peace process,” he charged. “Its aim is to preserve the status quo and annex the occupied territories.”
Aliyev again alleged that Armenia is “preparing for a new war against Azerbaijan.” He also repeated his earlier claims that the United States, Russia and France are not doing enough to resolve the conflict in their capacity as co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian hit back at Aliyev on Friday. Pashinian said that Baku itself is keeping the negotiating process in deadlock by rejecting any settlement that would not restore Azerbaijani control over Karabakh.
Meeting with visiting Karabakh officials in Yerevan, Pashinian again complained that Aliyev has not reciprocated his repeated calls for a compromise peace deal acceptable to the people of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Karabakh. And he stressed that Baku cannot clinch “unilateral” Armenian concessions with its threats to end the conflict by military force.
Pashinian further dismissed allegations by a government-linked Azerbaijani media outlet that he privately promised to make such concessions shortly after coming to power in 2018. “I wouldn’t advise our Azerbaijani colleagues to do go down that path because if we … start spreading confidential information I’m afraid the internal political situation will be destabilized as a result,” he warned.
Meanwhile, the Armenian Foreign Ministry laughed off Aliyev’s strong criticism of Yerevan’s human rights record and claims that Pashinian is persecuting his political opponents. The ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalian, said that both Armenia and Karabakh are run by democratically elected governments that have a popular mandate to negotiate with legitimate representatives of the Azerbaijani people.
“Ilham Aliyev, who inherited power from his father and shares it within a single family, is not such a leader,” Naghdalian said in a statement. She said that Aliyev leads a “repressive regime” that takes “every opportunity, including the COVID-19 pandemic, to plunder and silence its own people.”
Aliyev similarly blamed the Armenian side late last week for the current deadlock in the peace process. He said Yerevan’s “provocative” actions and statements make further peace talks “meaningless.” The Armenian Foreign Ministry deplored his “baseless and false claims.”
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group met in Paris and spoke by phone with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers on September 14. In a joint statement, the mediators said they “invited the ministers to meet individually with the Co-Chairs in person in the coming weeks to further clarify their respective positions, with the aim of resuming serious substantive negotiations without preconditions.”
Aliyev already threatened to pull out of “meaningless negotiations” with Armenia in early July. A few days later heavy fighting broke out at a western section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. It lasted for about a week, leaving at least 17 soldiers from both sides dead.