BY ANADOLU AGENCY
Azerbaijan’s president warned Armenia on Thursday against making territorial claims in Karabakh, a region liberated from nearly three decades of Armenian occupation in 2020.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the ninth Global Baku Forum themed Challenges to the Global World Order, which was organized by the Nizami Ganjavi International Center in the capital Baku, President Ilham Aliyev said that if Yerevan continues to question the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, Baku would also question Armenia’s territorial integrity.
“If Armenia continues to question the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan will have no other choice and will question the territorial integrity of Armenia,” he said.
Doing so would be a “useless and dangerous approach” for Armenia, said Aliyev, asserting that “the government of Armenia should understand this and stop trying to rewrite history.”
The Azerbaijani president also argued that Baku, on the other hand, had historical grounds to call the territory of Armenia into question.
“The history of the last century clearly shows that the Soviet government cut off Zangezur, the historical region of Azerbaijan, in 1920 and gave it to Armenia. Therefore, if Armenia claims a status for Armenians in Karabakh, why shouldn’t Azerbaijan claim a status for Azerbaijanis from West Zangezur?” Aliyev asked, underlining that Azerbaijanis have lived over a wide geography.
“This issue can lead to a dead end. The Armenian government should not forget the lessons of the Second Karabakh War. Learn these lessons well and avoid any territorial claims against Azerbaijan,” he added.
Relations between the two ex-Soviet countries have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
New clashes erupted in September 2020, and a 44-day conflict saw Azerbaijan liberate several cities and over 300 settlements and villages that were occupied by Armenia for almost 30 years.
A tripartite agreement was brokered by Russia to bring an end to the war in November 2020.
Speaking on the activities of the Minsk Group, a body under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) tasked around three decades ago to solve the Karabakh dispute, Aliyev said the group had achieved no results in 28 years.
“Since Azerbaijan has resolved the Karabakh problem, the Minsk Group is no longer needed. Everyone understands that it was not possible for the Minsk Group co-chairmen to come together since the (beginning of the) Russia-Ukraine war. We have received some messages that the co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group will not operate. It’s time for them to retire now,” he said.
The OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States, was formed on March 24, 1992, to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group, who visited both countries periodically and met with the authorities, did nothing more than issue warnings to the parties to abide by the cease-fire each time.
Also speaking at the forum was Vaira Vike-Freiberga, a former president of Latvia and co-chair of the Baku-based Nizami Ganjavi International Center.
Attending the forum were also Albanian President Ilir Meta, Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidential Council Chairperson Sefik Djaferovic, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, and Binali Yıldırım, deputy chairperson of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).