President: Azerbaijan ready for dialogue with Armenia [UPDATE]

28 September 2021 15:58 (UTC+04:00)

By Ayya Lmahamad

President Ilham Aliyev has said that Azerbaijan is ready for a dialogue with Armenia to go towards peace.

He made the remarks in an interview with the French France 24 TV channel on September 28.

 "Azerbaijan never, even during the war, during the occupation, never objected any kind of high-level contacts. On the contrary, we think that these communications may answer many questions which both sides may have, and also to be a starting point for the new development of the region," he said.

The president said that his meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is possible if the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs come up with a relevant initiative.

“Usually the contacts, between the leaders of the two countries were organized under the umbrella of the OSCE Minsk Group. It was them who proposed the agenda, it was them who organized the meeting. If the Minsk group co-chairs will suggest such a meeting, of course, we will not be against it,” the president said.

Aliyev noted the conflict between the two countries is resolved and there should be no return to the past.

"There should be no signs of revanchism in Armenia. We need to talk about the future, we need to talk about peace, and how to make our region more stable and safe,” he underlined.

The president underlined that Azerbaijan is ready to start working with Armenia on the future peace treaty between the two countries. He noted the need to engage in a new activity in the region to make the region more predictable, stable, and safe.

“The meeting of the foreign ministers of both countries [in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly's 76th session] is a good indicator of these endeavors. I hope that it will not be the only meeting, but it will be the beginning of a new process, the process of normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia and the process which will give and can give a new dimension to broad cooperation in the region of Southern Caucasus,” Aliyev stated.

No territorial claims

The president ruled out any territorial claims by Azerbaijan to Armenia.

“In my statements, you will never find any sign of territorial claims. What I was talking about, I was talking about historical truth and it’s a historical fact that in 1920 the Soviet government decided and did it actually, they separated an integral part of Azerbaijan - Zangazur and adjusted it to Armenia. It was 1920, 101 years ago. Talking about our historical lands, I didn’t mean that we have territorial claims,” he said.

Aliyev stated that like every other nation, Azerbaijan's young generation should know national and ancient history, and which territories they were living on and how to go back.

“I am sure that we will go back [to ancestral lands], but we will go back as I said many times, not on tanks. We will go back by car, by train, you know on foot. When the situation normalizes when a peace agreement is achieved why shouldn’t we go back? It’s our legitimate right,” the president stressed.

Resolved conflict

Stressing that the conflict is resolved, Aliyev noted that any kind of statement that the conflict is not resolved is not only inappropriate but very dangerous.

“My advice to those countries who say it is not resolved is to think about how they can provide a place on their own territory to settle Armenians and to create the second Armenian state on their own territory,” the president said.

France’s position

Aliyev noted that during the war France was not behaving like an honest broker, as it took Armenia's side, openly accusing Azerbaijan, demonstrating a one-sided approach in its statements and actions.

“I’d like to say, any country can have preferences, friends and not friends. It’s up to them. We have nothing to say. But if a country has a mandate from the OSCE to be a mediator, in this case, the country should be neutral,” he underlined.

“If France was not a co-chair of the Minsk Group, of course, any kind of relations between any kind of countries is up to them. And we know about the historical ties between France and Armenia, we know about the very active Armenian community in France, which to a certain degree may influence decision-makers,” the president added.

Aliyev also expressed the hope that as an honest broker, as a co-chair of the Minsk group France will be committed to this responsibility.

The president added that Azerbaijan has been actively working with France on many issues of bilateral relations during all years of its independence. He noted that France always was considered a friendly country in Azerbaijan and the two countries had implemented a lot of economic and trade projects, infrastructure projects, and relations developed very successfully. 

Prisoners of war

Speaking about prisoners of war, the president underlined that all those taken as prisoners during the 44-day war in 2020 have been returned to Armenia.

“The Armenian government can confirm that. We returned them even before they returned our prisoners of war. Those people whom some NGOs are referring to are those who were sent by the Armenian military command two weeks after the war ended,” Aliyev said.

He noted that those who are currently held in Azerbaijan, according to all international conventions cannot be considered as prisoners of war, as they have been detained after the war stopped.

Aliyev underlined that many of them had already been returned to Armenia as a sign of goodwill.

“But the rest of those people who are serving the sentence here, they have committed a crime and they must be brought to justice and they have been brought to justice,” the president said.

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