Azerbaijan bracing up to free its occupied land – top official

Azerbaijan is preparing to free its territories occupied by Armenia and "will make no concessions" in this regard, a senior official has said.

About 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory has been occupied by Armenian armed forces since a precarious ceasefire was signed in 1994 following a brutal war that claimed some 30,000 lives and displaced about one million Azer­baijanis. OSCE-brokered peace talks have been largely fruitless so far.

"If Armenia...steps on the right path today, it is possible that some agreement would be reached in the negotiations," said Ali Hasanov, Deputy Prime Minister and head of the state committee for refugees and IDPs. "The [Azerbaijani] state, president remain true to their word. If Armenia continues to be non-constructive, we will soon liberate our lands on orders of the commander-in-chief. For the time being, the government has started preparations for the processes that will follow the liberation [of territory]. This is a program on return [of IDPs to their homes], evaluation of the damage [inflicted to the war-affected regions] and other issues. We have to be ready for that."