BAKU–Azerbaijan is taking political and economic steps to sabotage the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Friday in a national address to commemorate the passing of a referendum lifting term limits on his presidency.
“Nagorno-Karabakh will never gain independence,” Aliyev said. “Azerbaijan takes not only political, but also economic steps to resolve this question."
He said his government is trying to “solve the problem in a peaceful way within the framework of justice and international law.”
Aliyev hailed the constitutional referendum held on Wednesday, saying that the amendment to the constitution to allow him to serve more than two terms would help promote democratic reforms in the oil-rich former Soviet republic.
Aliyev, 47, won a second five-year term by a landslide last October, having taken over from his father Heydar, a former top-ranking Soviet official and KGB officer, in 2003.
Late last week, Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Araz Azimov, said his government believed that the worsening global economic crisis would force Armenia to drop its support for Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence.
Azerbaijan has been funneling its soaring oil revenues into its military budget. Azeri leaders almost daily threaten to launch a new war against Karabakh and Armenia. The intensity and occurrence of ceasefire violations have increased in recent months, leading many analysts to believe that Azerbaijan is testing Armenia’s defensive capabilities.