By Céline Aemisegger
Moscow, Nov 5 (efe-epa).- Azerbaijan will stop the war in Nagorno-Karabakh immediately if Armenia withdraws and its prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, personally and publicly announces his retreat and defeat, the Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev told Efe in an interview.
In power since 2003, the Azeri head of state spoke to Efe via video link from the presidential palace in Baku. His demeanor is one of defiance. He claims that Azerbaijan has a clear military advantage over Armenia in the conflict over the territory, which is internationally recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan, although is populated predominantly by Armenians and de facto governed by Armenian separatists.
QUESTION: The war in Nagorno-Karabakh has entered its sixth week. What is the situation on the front-line?
ANSWER: The situation at the frontline is showing the dominance of the Azerbaijani Army. We liberate one village and one city after another. And, during this time on the battlefield, Azerbaijan liberated a large part of its territory which was under occupation for almost 30 years and the successful offensive operation of the Azerbaijani Army continues.
Q: You want to retake all seven occupied districts. How many of those have you recaptured?
A: Actually, four of the five occupied districts have already been liberated, either completely or partially, and today we are in an active phase of the ‘de-occupation’ of other districts that have been under occupation.
And as I said, we implement United Nations Security Council resolutions and, by the way, we already implemented part of the Basic Principles, because the Basic Principles for settlement which have been proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group actually demanded the liberation of occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, Armenia was not willing to do it voluntarily, therefore we had to force them to do it.
Q: Both sides have agreed already to three humanitarian ceasefires, but none have worked. Why is it impossible to sit down and negotiate?
A: I think one of the reasons why the ceasefire didn’t work was the attempt of Armenia to regain the territories which have already been liberated by us. In other words, they wanted to occupy them again. Therefore, they tried to use the ceasefire, which as you correctly mentioned was announced on humanitarian grounds, in order to mobilize their resources and launch a new attack.