Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev has once again laid out his vision for the future of the South Caucasus region and Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. The president said that he was optimistic about the future and that he and his country only wanted peace and tranquility for the region, but he dismissed the possibility of any special arrangement for Nagorno Karabakh, excluding both independence and a special "status".
Armenians living in Karabakh will have no status, no independence, and no special privilege. They are the same as the citizens of Azerbaijan. As the rights of Azerbaijani citizens are protected, so are theirs. As the rights of the people living in Azerbaijan are protected, so should their rights.
Aliyev was speaking on Friday (12 August), in an interview with Azerbaijani State Television during a visit to the Basgal settlement of Ismayilli district, where he viewed various development projects and announced new ones. The wide-ranging interview dealt with a variety of issues, but in it the president also focused on the current situation in the region, and gave his first extensive comments following the clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in early August.
"Armenians living in Karabakh should take the right step and understand that their future is only through integration into the Azerbaijani society. It is not possible otherwise. That is, we live in real life. From the point of view of economy, geography, and transport, Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan, from the point of view of history, from the point of view of international law, it is an integral part. If someone in Karabakh talks about some status, independence again, I don't know, for the sake of some kind of populism, or now, as they say, because he is afraid of someone, you should know that he is the first enemy of the Armenian people. Because the Armenians living in Karabakh will have no status, no independence, and no special privilege. They are the same as the citizens of Azerbaijan. As the rights of Azerbaijani citizens are protected, so are theirs. As the rights of the peoples living in Azerbaijan are protected, so should their rights. This is the way."
President Aliyev said that almost two years have passed since the Second Karabakh war, and big changes have taken place during these two years. "Apart from the restoration and reconstruction works we are still carrying out, all of which are obvious, many changes occur in consciousness because of our correct policy. Immediately after the end of the war, I said that we need peace. We should start peace talks with Armenia. We haven't received a positive response yet, but I hope we will. A delimitation commission should be established. They also objected to that, but eventually they agreed. The Zangezur corridor is necessary, and they objected to it. Now we are waiting for the route of the Zangezur corridor from them in the coming weeks. Armenians living in Karabakh, they also saw that."
President Aliyev said that he is optimistic about the future. "I want to say again, we always achieve what we want. What we want is that there should be peace and tranquility in the region, there should be no war, Azerbaijan should develop successfully, and our people should live well and prosper."