BAKU (Combined Sources)–President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev said in his New Year address to the nation–that 2004 marked a turning point in negotiating a settlement to the Karabagh conflict–noting that "considerable progress was made during Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. . . the international community approaches the issue more seriously–and the OSCE Minsk Group has intensified its activities."
He emphasized that negotiations should be conducted in compliance with international law–but stressed that Azerbaijan would liberate "native lands" in any way possible. "I’ve stated more than once that Azerbaijan would never compromise the issue of territorial integrity; we will never discuss the issue," Aliyev said–calling for the development of a strong army so as to reach that goal.
He stressed that Azerbaijan would be able to resolve many of its economic and social problems when the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline becomes operational in 2005–and when the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline is finished.