BAKU (RFE/RL)–Armenia will cease to exist as an independent state and its territory will be incorporated into Azerbaijan over the next three decades–a senior Azerbaijani military official was quoted as saying–taking anti-Armenian rhetoric in Baku to new heights.
"Within the next 25-years there will exist no state of Armenia in the South Caucasus," Colonel Ramiz Melikov–the chief spokesman for Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry–said–according to the Baku daily "Zerkalo."Those people have done so many nasty things to their neighbors that they have no right to live in this region."
"Modern Armenia is built on historical Azerbaijani lands," he added. "I think that in 25-30 years’ times its territory will again come under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction."
Melikov was quoted in an extensive "Zerkalo" article that called on the Azerbaijani government to promptly restart the war with the Armenia’s and win back Mountainous Karabagh. The Azeri leadership regularly threatens to do just that–complaining about the international community’s reluctance to end Armenian control of the disputed region. The most recent such threat came from President Ilham Aliyev last week.
"Zerkalo" said Azeri military officials believe that their troops are prepared for renewed hostilities and that "the upcoming war will not be long-lasting."
"Today the personnel of the Azerbaijani armed forces is not the one that existed ten years ago," Melikov said. "We substantially exceed Armenia with the size of the population and the number of soldiers. Soon the entire world will recognize Armenia as an aggressor country. That is why Armenia is now on the brink of defeat."
Armenia has repeatedly dismissed such statemen’s from Baku–saying that Azerbaijan would have long resumed the war without a warning had it been confident of victory. But its reaction to Aliyev’s latest threats was unusually sharp–with the Armenian Foreign Ministry warning Azerbaijan of "disastrous consequences."
The armed forces of Mountainous Karabagh Republic–on Tuesday–began a ten-day military exercise which officials say will test their combat-readiness during "defensive and counter-offensive operations." The war games followed a call-up of army reservists and will involve the use of live ammunition.
Just last week "Zerkalo" quoted an unnamed Western diplomat in Baku as saying that the Azeri society and army are not prepared for war and that the West does not take its government’s threats seriously.