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Nagorno-Karabakh community leader: Azerbaijani army can free occupied lands

23 July 2013 18:03 (UTC+04:00)
Nagorno-Karabakh community leader: Azerbaijani army can free occupied lands

By Sara Rajabova

Azerbaijan's armed forces today can not only free Nagorno-Karabakh, but also restore the country's borders dating back to the beginning of the last century, head of the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh Bayram Safarov said on July 23.

"The Azerbaijani army today is substantially different from the one 20 years ago. Azerbaijan had no standing army at that time. But today we have an army that is able to free the occupied territories," Safarov said in his speech at a ceremony held at the Alley of Martyrs in Baku in connection with the 20th anniversary of the occupation of Aghdam region by Armenian armed forces.

Armenia occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, after laying territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor that sparked a lengthy war in the early 1990s. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal, but they have not been enforced to this day.

Safarov also noted that Armenia's current leadership does not want peace.

"Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan knows that after several meetings are held between the two communities, there will be no need for his participation in the negotiations between Azerbaijanis and Armenians. The Armenians will agree to live in Azerbaijan under a special status," Safarov said.

"We are ready to meet with all Armenians, every reasonable person respecting Azerbaijan," the head of the community said. "We are not against living together with the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh."

But he said, "They must respect the laws and the constitution of Azerbaijan and must assume Azerbaijani citizenship. In this case, they will be assigned the highest status."

Safarov also said that in case of the conflict settlement, the social development of Nagorno-Karabakh will be supported.

The community leader expressed confidence in an imminent return of the occupied regions of Azerbaijan. He also cited the state care for refugees and internally displaced persons.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Azerbaijani parliament member Bakhtiyar Aliyev stressed Azerbaijan's development. According to him, Azerbaijan has become a guarantor of Europe's energy security under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev, the worthy successor of national leader Heydar Aliyev's political course.

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