DAVOS, Switzerland—Azeri President Ilham Aliyev told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he was confident that Turkey would not ratify the Armenia-Turkey protocols until Armenia “returned” the liberated territories around Karabakh and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic itself to Azerbaijan’s control.
“There is a common understanding in the region that there should be a first step by Armenia to start the liberation of the occupied territories,” Aliyev told the Wall Street Journal in an interview conducted in the margins of the World Economic Forum. He also told the Journal that he was “fully satisfied” with Turkey’s understanding of the issue, despite his past harsh criticism.
“If the two issues are disconnected, then probably Armenia will freeze negotiations with Azerbaijan (over Nagorno Karabakh),” Aliyev told the Journal, which reported that Aliyev, in the past, has threatened war.
“Now we are approaching the moment when things get more and more difficult,” President Serzh Sarkisian’s deputy chief of staff Vigen Sargsyan told the Wall Street Journal.
Sargsyan told the WSJ that while Armenia’s government is sending the protocols to parliament for ratification, it is also preparing legislation to enable the president to withdraw his signature from treaties.
“If this opportunity is lost it will push the whole region back, not to where we started when talks began but beyond that,” Sargsyan told the WSJ.
The WSJ reported that Aliyev has expressed anger over the Turkey-Armenia talks by threatening to reroute Azeri natural gas and oil exports away from Turkey. “Azerbaijan can export gas in four directions: Turkey, Georgia, Iran and Russia,” Aliyev told the WSJ.
The Azeri president also expressed his frustration over delays in the construction of the Nabucco pipeline. In an interview with Bloomberg TV Wednesday, Aliyev complained of a lack of leadership in the pipeline project. He told the Wall Street Journal that he would entertain selling as much gas to Russia’s Gazprom if the pipeline were delayed. The concept of the Western-backed Nabucco pipeline is to side-step and diversify supplies away from Russia in an effort to diminish its energy influence in the region.
“So far we do not know who is that leader who will move this process forward,” Aliyev said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Who will engage itself in negotiations with gas producers, transiters? Who will do the marketing for this gas? What will be the pricing?
“So a lot of questions that are not answered for quite a lot of time,” Aliyev told Bloomberg TV.