By Vafa Ismayilova
President Ilham Aliyev has said that the Azerbaijani-Armenian peace agreement is a prerequisite to peace in the South Caucasus region, Azertag reported on June 25.
He made the remarks in Baku on June 25 at a meeting with the Romanian, Austrian, Lithuanian foreign ministers and an EU delegation, who are on a visit to Azerbaijan mandated by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrel.
“If we do not have a peace agreement with Armenia, it means that there is no peace. There is no peace not only between the two countries but also in the South Caucasus. We need peace and sustainable development, forecasting, zero war risk, we do not need war. We did not need a war before,” Aliyev said.
Touching on the fact that the visit is dedicated to the current post-conflict situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the head of state noted that the main fundamental approaches to the post-conflict situation will be developed and that the country’s position is very clear in this context.
“I have repeatedly said that we want to move from a post-conflict situation to peaceful development and cooperation in the South Caucasus. Unfortunately, we have never heard anything like this from the Armenian government. The Armenian government is ignoring any of our statements about starting negotiations on a peace agreement with Armenia,” he added.
Aliyev underlined that the pre-election situation in Armenia could possibly be unsuitable for making statements about the aforesaid.
“But now, after the elections in Armenia, we hope for a positive response. Of course, I think that this issue will be discussed during your contacts in Armenia,” he added.
The president noted that Azerbaijan and the EU could actively cooperate in ensuring peace and reconciliation in the region.
“I am glad that the EU is demonstrating its involvement in regional issues, and your visit is a clear indication of this. We appreciate any participation in the South Caucasus that serves the cause of peace, reconciliation, development, and cooperation,” Aliyev said.
The head of state stressed that Azerbaijan has always been committed to the peaceful settlement of the conflict with Armenia, and the fact that Baku has been in the negotiation process for 28 years since the establishment of the Minsk Group is a clear sign of this.
He underlined that he had been taking part in talks since 2003 with three Armenian leaders and said that after these meaningless negotiations which lasted for many years, Azerbaijan clearly realized that Armenia does not want peace.
“They wanted to keep the status quo unchanged. They wanted to keep our lands under occupation forever, and their participation in the talks was a kind of imitation of the negotiation process,” Aliyev said.
The president said that Armenia tried to confuse the international community and European organizations claiming that they “want a solution, but Azerbaijan is not constructive”.
Aliyev said that the Armenian government, which had taken many provocative steps to incite the war, was responsible for the escalation in the region and that there is a lot of evidence supporting his position.
“We are currently in a state of post-conflict development. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved. There is nothing to negotiate in this regard. The trilateral declaration, signed on November 10, is not just a ceasefire agreement, as some international politicians have tried to present. Anyone looking at this document will see that it is not only about the ceasefire, but also about many other issues. We need to think about the post-conflict situation,” he said.
Aliyev reiterated that Azerbaijan is ready to move forward and contribute to regional stability. Aliyev thanked for the visit and added that after the delegation’s regional visit, Azerbaijan will definitely contact them through its embassy in Brussels and the Foreign Ministry to discuss future plans.
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu said that the EU aims to increase efforts to work more closely with the region.
“The purpose of our presence here is to send a strong message of support for the stability and security of the region, as you said, to consider the kind of support that can be given for a comprehensive solution to all issues ahead for the post-conflict period,” he said.
The Romanian minister stressed that Azerbaijan has an important role for the European Union and that it is a strategic energy partner. He described Azerbaijan as the EU's largest trading partner in the region.
“For us, Azerbaijan is of great importance for the stability and prosperity of the South Caucasus. We appreciate Azerbaijan as an example of tolerance, multiculturalism, and interreligious dialogue. I know that during your presidency you have done a lot to achieve all this,” he added.
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