Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev

Aliyev Again Threatens Armenia, Karabakh


By Ruzanna Stepanian

YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — Azerbaijan may be walking away from recent understandings reached with Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan suggested on Monday, May 29, reacting to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s latest threats of fresh military action against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Aliyev said on May 28 that apart from recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh, Yerevan must also meet a number of other conditions set by Azerbaijan. That includes delimiting the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on Baku’s terms and opening a corridor to the Nakhichevan exclave, he said.

“They must not forget that Armenian villages are visible from here,” he added during a visit to the border town of Lachin.

Pashinyan said the threat runs counter to the mutual recognition by the two South Caucasus states of each other’s territorial integrity which he and Aliyev reaffirmed at their May 14 meeting in Brussels.

“I think that both Azerbaijan and our international partners should at least clarify whether that means a renunciation of the understandings reached in Brussels,” he told Armenian lawmakers. Armenian diplomats should “get an answer to this question from our partners,” he said.

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Pashinyan provoked a storm of criticism in Armenia and Karabakh when he confirmed after the Brussels summit his readiness to recognize Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan through a peace treaty currently discussed by Baku and Yerevan. He said the treaty should call for an international framework of addressing “the rights and security” of Karabakh’s Armenian population.

Aliyev appeared to again rule out any such mechanism on Sunday, saying that the Karabakh Armenians must dissolve their government bodies and unconditionally accept Azerbaijani rule.

“Everyone knows that we can carry out any [military] operation in that territory,” he warned. “That is why the [Karabakh] parliament must be dissolved, the element who calls himself the president [of Karabakh] must surrender and all ministers, deputies and other officials must resign. Only then can there be talk of amnesty.”

Arayik Harutyunyan, the Karabakh president, rejected the threats on Monday. A spokeswoman for Harutyunyan said Aliyev’s demands also mean he “recognizes the legitimacy and importance of our institutions.”

Aliyev already made it clear in April that Baku will not hold any internationally mediated talks with Stepanakert. The Karabakh Armenians “will either live under Azerbaijani rule or leave” their homeland, he said.

Two Karabakh lawmakers said Aliyev has doubled down on such threats because of the far-reaching concession to Baku made by Pashinyan.

Aliyev and Pashinyan are scheduled to meet again on June 4 in Moldova’s capital Chisinau on the sidelines of a European summit. The Armenian premier insisted that the controversial peace treaty will not be signed during that meeting.

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