MOSCOW (Reuters–Itar-Tass)–Azeri President Haidar Aliyev was quoted on Thursday as saying his country had no immediate plans to host foreign military bases–but he stopped short of ruling out such a possibility in principle.
Aliyev’s adviser–Vafa Guluzade–had said on Monday that Azerbaijan wanted the United States and Turkey to establish military bases on its territory to counter what it terms Russian threats to its independence.
"Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This issue is not on the agenda now," Aliyev–when asked if Azerbaijan had such plans–told the Russian daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.
Aliyev–who is recovering from bronchitis at a hospital in Turkey–made clear the problem was linked to alleged Russian support for Armenia.
"Azerbaijan has no foreign bases. But to discuss the possibility that they will appear–you must understand a whole complex of things. Several (former Soviet republics)–including Armenia–have Russian military bases," he said.
Aliyev reiterated Azerbaijan’s charges that Russia had been providing covert military aid to Armenia for years–and had begun doing so openly for the past six months.
"They try to calm me down by saying ‘none of this is directed against you’. Then against whom?" Aliyev told the paper.
Aliyev said Russian aid to Armenia threatened efforts to strengthen the post-Soviet 12-member Commonwealth of Independent States of which all three countries are members.
Meanwhile–Turkish President Suleyman Demirel has described as "speculation" the reports alleging Azerbaijan’s request to bring Turkish troops into its territory and deploy a NATO base there–reported the Itar-Tass news agency.
"The Turkish side did not receive any official request to this effect," Demirel stated on Wednesday after visiting Aliyev–who is staying at a Turkish military hospital for medical treatment.
Demirel also expressed satisfaction with the state of health of Aliyev– who–as the local press reports–is due to leave hospital at the end of this week.