NAKHICHEVAN (Trend News)–“Turkey will always support Baku’s equitable position in the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Nakhchivan Wednesday after talks with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev.
The Turkish Prime Minister was on a one-day official visit to the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan. In the first half of the day, Erdogan held private talks centered on energy and military security with the Azeri president.
Aliyev and Erdogan then led talks between the government delegations from both countries and the Nakhichevan Parliament.
At a press briefing after the talks, President Aliyev thanked Turkey for its continued support of Azerbaijan in the peace negotiations with Armenia.
During the press briefing, Aliyev again sounded the war drums by threatening an inevitable war with Armenia if his country’s deman’s are not immediately met.
Aliyev’s threats come five months before his country is expected to vote for a new president. Referring to the Armenian Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh as “occupied Azeri lands,” Aliyev told reporters during his visit to Nakhijevan on Tuesday that war with the neighboring country is inevitable so long as Armenians continued to govern the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Eldar Sabiroghlu, an Azeri Defense Ministry Spokesman echoed his Commander in Chief at a press conference on Wednesday, saying that the situation in the region may worsen if Armenia “continues its occupation of Azerbaijani lands.”
Russia’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Vsily Istratov Wednesday dismissed similar commen’s made earlier by another Azeri Defense Ministry Spokesman calling for Moscow to demand Yerevan’s withdrawal from so called “occupied Azeri territory.”
With only five months to go until elections are held in Azerbaijan, many analysts are beginning to predict that Aliyev will ride on the coattails of militaristic rhetoric and use a nationalist conflict over Armenia to cover the growing controversy over his administrations failure to solve any of the country’s major social ills.
Aliyev, and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian will be meeting in the Russian City of Saint Petersburg Friday on the sidelines of a summit of former Soviet republics. It is hoped that during the meeting, the two leaders will try to make further progress towards finalizing a framework peace agreement drafted by US, Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.
The Minsk Group plan, formally submitted to the conflicting parties last November, envisages a gradual solution to the dispute that would see the transfer to Azerbaijan of the liberated territories surrounding Karabakh and delay the agreement on its status. Aliyev and Sarkisian’s predecessor Robert Kocharian apparently accepted most of the proposed principles, leading the mediators to state earlier this year that an Armenian-Azerbaijani framework peace deal could be cut in the course of this year.
But the peace process seems stalled, as Azerbaijan continues to threaten to use its growing military budget for an all out invasion of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian told reporters during a press conference in Yerevan Wednesday that both sides must refrain from taking any steps that could hamper peace talks.
“We must not pour oil on the flames,” he stressed. “There are no alternatives to the peace talks.”
Armenia’stands ready to continue the peace process based the suggestions presented by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs in Madrid.
But Azerbaijan must also be ready to continue the negotiations on the basis of these proposals, he noted.
Nalbandian explained that official Baku rarely states its readiness to continue the peace process and instead threatens to solve the conflict militarily.
There are no alternatives to the negotiations,” he said. “Baku’s statemen’s about a military solution are the result of an impermissible way of thinking.”
A peaceful settlement of the conflict is impossible without concessions by Azerbaijan and Armenia, US Minsk Group Co-Chair Matthew Bryza told reporters on Wednesday following a conference in Baku dedicated to Caspian oil.
“The sides need talks, political will, and common sense,” he stressed, referring to his expectations for the upcoming talks between the two countries’ leaders. “This means that the Presidents should create an atmosphere of trust. We will see whether they will succeed.”