YEREVAN (Combined Sources)-Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev Friday claimed that his country’s army was the most powerful in the entire region and is prepared to "liberate its lands."
His remarks came during a visit to the frontline region of Fizuli, where he spoke to army soldiers and officers about Azerbaijan’s military spending.
He told the soldiers that the government will be increasing its military spending to $2 billion, up from $175 million in 2004.
The drastic rise in spending is supported by oil revenues generated by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which Western companies developed to feed oil to Europe. Since it’s complete in 2006, the pipeline has helped the country increase its defense spending and has fueled threats of renewed war with Armenia by President Aliyev.
Aliyev precluded any notion of Karabakh independence Friday, saying that Azerbaijan will not endure the "injustice" of the international community in respect to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
With Nagorno-Karabakh a major election issue this year in Azerbaijan, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, who will be running for re-election in October, has been toughening his already bellicose position on the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, threatening to re-ignite war and take back the Armenian territory by force.
He accused Armenia of preventing the settlement of the conflict and deceiving the international community. Armenia has repeatedly voiced its support for a compromise solution within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group
Since 1997, the peace talks over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have been conducted by the American, French and Russian co-chairmen of the Minsk Group.
At the end of last year, the Minsk Group tried to persuade the two sides to accept a statement of basic principles, as a first step towards breaking the deadlock over Nagorno Karabakh’s future–but no agreement was reached. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has been threatening war and making diplomatic steps to remove the conflict from the watchful eye of international mediators.
Aliyev said he is hopeful that the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan will be restored as his country’s army is the most powerful in the region and threatened renewed war to take Nagorno-Karabakh.
The threats follow a pattern of increasing belligerence by Azerbaijani officials and come amid increasing tensions after a string of unprecedented violations of the Karabakh ceasefire line by Azeri Armed forces in early March.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian Wednesday said Azerbaijan must accept that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is an independent republic that will never be returned to Azeri control.
Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible," Sarkisian said. "It is impossible to even imagine that the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh could be subordinate in any way to Azerbaijan.
"The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have won their right to a free and independent life. And through our efforts, that right must be recognized by the international community," he stressed.
In recent weeks Armenian authorities have begun to say they will recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and sign military agreemen’s with it if Azerbaijan continues to try and remove the conflict from the Minsk Group format.
In related news, Chairman of the Azeri Parliament Oktai Asadov met with Turkish ambassador to Azerbaijan Yulus Kylci Friday to discuss bilateral relations. During the meeting, they discussed the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the prevention of the international recognition of the Armenian genocide.
"Through their actions, Azerbaijan and Turkey have proven that they are strategic partners," Asadov said, citing the BTC Pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway. Both projects circumvent Armenia, which is under a dual blockade by the two countries.