By Sara Rajabova
Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister, Colonel-General Zakir Hasanov has stated that if talks on the peaceful settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict fail, Azerbaijan will liberate its lands by force.
Hasanov made the remarks in a meeting with the servicemen participating in military exercises on September 9, the defense ministry reported.
The command and staff military games have been underway in the country since September 6.
“For more than 20 years, our lands have been under occupation, and peace talks have not produced any results. The enemy must unequivocally understand that we will never reconcile with the occupation of our lands,” Hasanov said.
The Azerbaijani government’s strength is increasing day by day with constantly taken good care of its army, according to the minister.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a lengthy war that ended with the signing of a fragile ceasefire in 1994. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over one million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities. Since the war, the Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.
Peace talks brokered by mediators from Russia, France, and the U.S. have produced no results so far. Armenia continues the occupation in defiance of four UN Security Council resolutions calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal.
During the meeting, Hasanov thanked the personnel of the armed forces, called up from the reserve for their readiness to defend the homeland and for responsible participation in the training exercises.
He highly appreciated the first phase of the trainings, praising the professionalism of the personnel.
“The main purpose of the call for the military men in the reserve to join the exercises was to test the level of their combat readiness. We attach great importance to this, because the servicemen in the reserve are also a part of the army. All of us should be ready for battle,” Hasanov said.
Noting that the exercises are currently underway simulating field conditions, the minister said the troops would also be using live fire.
“To further increase the level of readiness, you should seriously take part in them, as well as fulfill the tasks,” Hasanov said appealing to the servicemen.
He also added that the reservists will have an opportunity familiarize themselves with modern weapons and military equipment, the rules of their operation, along with the improvement of previously acquired skills and knowledge.
Hasanov stressed that the exercises are organized at a high level are held in accordance with instructions given by the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, President Ilham Aliyev.
The minister then gave relevant instructions and tasks.
Up to 65,000 servicemen, 700 armored vehicles, 500 units of rocket and artillery troops, 40 aircraft, 50 helicopters of the Air Force, and 20 Navy ships and boats, etc. are involved in command and staff military exercises that will end on September 13.
Azerbaijan holds regular military drills to check the training level and fighting capability of the army.
The Azerbaijani leadership empowers the military and has moved to formulate the necessary armament policy by adhering to international requirements.
Azerbaijan's military build-up is in line with the country's legal right to liberate its occupied lands by means of war, should it be necessary.