By Celine Aemisegger
Moscow, Oct 2 (EFE).- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev says he is willing to sit down with prime minister Nikol Pashinyan to normalize relations with Armenia, but ruled out a special status or autonomy for Armenians living in Karabakh after the end of the 44-day war for control of the disputed territory, he told Efe in an interview.
This week marked one year since the beginning of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijani president, in power since 2003, spoke by videoconference from one of the halls of the Presidential Palace in Baku as the winner of the conflict, which saw Yerevan lose control of almost 70% of the territories it controlled in the disputed region for 30 years.
Question: Are you ready for dialogue with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan?
Answer: Dialogue and contacts have begun at the level of deputy prime ministers of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, and this format is dedicated to issues related to the opening of communications. Recently, on the margins of the UN General Assembly, foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan met for the first time since the war ended. And I think it was very constructive and promising.
Our position remains unchanged since the war ended. We want to establish normal relations with Armenia based on mutual recognition of territorial integrity of both countries. We are ready to start immediately the process of delimitation of our borders and of course after that process is ended, demarcation.
We also expressed willingness to start to work together with Armenia on a future peace agreement. All these initiatives have been articulated by me and other Azerbaijani officials many times but unfortunately they have not yet been positively responded to by the Armenian side. So our position is unchanged and there are certain steps but I think during this year we would have made much bigger progress.
Q: You don’t have any intention to sit down today with PM Pashinyan?
A: I am ready and I already expressed this position. If the Armenian side is ready I am also ready. We had one meeting that was in trilateral format at the invitation of Russian president Vladimir Putin at the beginning of this year. And I am ready to talk to Mr. Pashinyan anytime when he is ready. So I am open for the discussions and I think that could be also a good indicator that the war is over and that page has been turned. This is very important, because still we see and we hear in Armenia in statements from the political establishment that demonstrate terms of “revanchism”. The terms of future plans to regain back territory which belongs to us by history and international law.
Therefore the willingness, the serious willingness of the Armenian government, not only by words, statements but actions, will demonstrate that the war is over and we are moving towards the period of peace.