Azerbaijan ups military budget amid Armenian provocations

By Mushvig Mehdiyev

Azerbaijan decided to allocate $5 billion to military in 2015 in an effort to improve the combat readiness, as well as the technical equipment and upgrade of its army.

Total amount of the military expenditure shares 17.9 percent of the budget assignments and is the next record figure in Azerbaijan's history, according to Finance Minister Samir Sharifov. He said Azerbaijan's sole military budget exceeds the overall state budget of Armenia by $2 billion.

Azerbaijan is a country facing the occupation of its historical and legal territory by the Armenian armed forces. Over 20 years of occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions considerably harmed Azerbaijan's economy and social life, as it forced nearly one million Azerbaijani IDPs to leave their native lands and live in inconvenient conditions.

Armenia has repeatedly refused to fulfill four UN resolutions on the unconditional withdraw of its forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh. The authorities of the occupant country are aloof to be committed to peace negotiations on the conflict's settlement. Regular deliberate provocations by the Armenian armed forces impede the peace talks to reach its fruitful end.

Azerbaijan has always announced its strong loyalty to peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. International conferences, meetings staged numerous addresses by the Azerbaijani officials, who called on Armenia to carry out the UN resolutions and abandon Azerbaijan's internationally recognized lands. That addresses firmly prove the peace preference of Azerbaijan.

However, the Azerbaijani authorities does not rule out armed resolution to the conflict, which is continuing over two decades, if peace efforts exhaust.

Azerbaijan purchases military equipment mostly from Turkey, Israel, Russia, the U.S. etc. The country buys tanks from Russia as part of the agreement packages signed in 2011 and 2012. Six battalions of 94 tanks should be partially delivered to Azerbaijan, according to the agreement.

Azerbaijan also supports the domestic production of the weaponry and military equipment. The domestic production includes the Istiglal sniper rifle, Mubariz rifle, Orbiter-2M unmanned intelligence drones, Gurza armored patrol car, "Matador" and "Marauder" armored vehicles, anti-tank mines etc.

Israeli expert Arye Gut said Azerbaijan's military expenditure surpassed the total budget of Armenia by 50 percent.

"It proves that Azerbaijan will never shake hands for a status-quo in the region. Azerbaijan has not only the right of self-defense, but also the right of liberating its occupied lands by force under the international law," Gut said.

Increasing military budget of Azerbaijan is a signal to the possible liberation of the occupied lands amid Armenia's derailment from peace negotiations. Withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from Azerbaijan's historical and legal territory should be unconditionally carried out under the UN resolutions. Otherwise, military solution could be inevitable, since the international organizations, particularly the OSCE Minsk Group miscarries its duty to end the conflict in peace.