By Aisha Jabbarova
President Ilham Aliyev has said that more work must be done in Azerbaijan and Armenia to build bridges between the two countries following the war that ended the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Aliyev made the remarks while addressing the “New vision for South Caucasus: Post-conflict development and cooperation” conference held at ADA University on April 13.
Commenting on the post-war cooperation, Aliyev said: “It is difficult to predict how Azerbaijanis and Armenians will interact in the future. I think to a large degree it will depend on the will and political wisdom of politicians, because I think we need to be more active here and in Yerevan in order to try to build bridges, of course, if Armenia wants that. We don’t know what are their intentions. They never elaborated on that.”
Aliyev said that Azerbaijan considers the page of the conflict turned down, adding that “we will do everything if Armenia has positive signals to us to try to build these connections. And what already has been done from our side unilaterally, I already mentioned, is a clear demonstration of that.”
“We even can talk and I already said it a couple of times about a possible peace agreement with Armenia. These are our plans. But we do not have any messages of this kind from the Armenian side. Armenian prime minister is silent, Armenian foreign minister is very aggressive and Armenia is not in the situation now to afford themselves to be aggressive against Azerbaijan. They should remember what happened during the war. Armenian opposition is now actually in hysteria. And Azerbaijanophobia, Turkophobia became one of the main, it always was very important but now, I think, it is the only factor. I am sure that they will build their election campaign on Azerbaijanophobia, Turkophobia on the feelings of revanchism. Therefore we cannot establish this interaction unilaterally. Our position is clear. We are ready for that. It will not be easy.”
The president said Azerbaijan is ready for peace with Armenia despite the level of destruction on Azerbaijan’s formerly occupied territories.
“Those former refugees who will return to Aghdam and other cities will see what Armenians have done to their lands, to the graves of their beloved ones, to their religious monuments. What will they feel? I can predict. I felt the same. When I was approaching the line of contact during the war and was only able to see Aghdam through lenses from binoculars and when I went there, to all the occupied territories. Yes, I am a President and I must be in line with my duties but we are all people we have feelings, we can hide them, we can control them but sometimes it is very difficult. I can predict what will be the feelings of former Azerbaijani refugees but as a President, as a person who looks to the future we will do everything if Armenia has positive signals to us to try to build these connections.”