BAKU (Combined Sources)–“This is the last chance for Armenia to leave the occupied lands voluntarily for the sake of its own future and its own security,” threatened Azeri President Ilham Aliyev Tuesday during the inauguration of a center for the so-called “Azeri Community of Nagorno-Karabakh,” reported the Turan news agency.
The threat comes two days after Aliyev held talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who urged both sides to refrain from “use of force or the intention of use of force” to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In his lengthy remarks, Aliyev said that Azerbaijan had accepted the updated Madrid Principles drafted by the OSCE Minks Group that is mediating the peace process.
He said the time had come for Armenia to adopt the principles, accusing Yerevan of deliberately delaying the process.
The Azeri President said his country’s growing economic and military potential and the strengthening of its position in the international arena will help it restore its territorial integrity.
“Today our army is able to solve any task,” the Azerbaijani President said. Aliyev, however, did not touch upon the mechanism of development of the final legal status of Nagrono-Karabakh during his speech.
In related news, Azerbaijan has denied Armenian claims that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev presented his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts with a new international plan to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at their meeting in Saint Petersburg last month, reported Radio Free Europe.
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian referred to them as “a new version of the Madrid principles” of a Karabakh settlement at a joint news conference in Yerevan with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Sunday.
President Serzh Sarkisian likewise spoke of “the latest version” of the proposed framework accord as he met with the visiting French, Russian and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on Saturday. A statement by his office said the document was “presented in the course of the Saint Petersburg negotiations between the presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan.”
The Azei Foreign Ministry dismissed these statements late on Monday. “Even though Russia plays a large role in this process and the Russian president has taken part in several meetings [between Aliyev and Sarkisian,] proposals are drawn up only by the [Minsk Group] co-chairs,” Azerbaijani news agencies quoted the ministry spokesman, Elkhan Polukhov, as saying.
“Updated Madrid proposals exist only in the form of a document, and they were submitted to both parties last year,” Polukhov said. “Only various approaches were discussed in Saint Petersburg. The statement by Nalbandian is only aimed at distracting the Armenian and international publics from the essence of the issue.”
The three co-chairs made no mention of the Saint Petersburg in a statement issued after their latest tour of the conflict zone. They instead reiterated the U.S., Russian and French presidents’ joint calls for the parties to “take the next step and move towards completing work on the Basic Principles to enable the drafting of a peace agreement to begin.” They also urged the sides to “strictly observe the 1994 ceasefire and exercise restraint along the Line of Contact.”
“During their visit, the Co-chairs also presented to the parties their plan to undertake a mission to the occupied territories in this fall, which was accepted in principle,” added the statement.