Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has once more called on Armenia to sign a peace treaty, and said it would be a grave mistake for Armenians not to do so. “There must be recognition of each other's territorial integrity, borders must be recognized, delimitation work must be started”, the president said.
Speaking to the families of fallen soldiers and war invalids, the president promised to turn “Karabakh and East Zangezeur into a paradise”. The speech appeared to lay out future Azerbaijani negotiating positions, as can be seen from the following extract:
(The full speech is available in English here on the official website of the Azerbaijani president.)
“And now a new era has begun - the era of construction, the era of post-conflict. I have said this many times, I want to say again, that the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been resolved. This conflict has been resolved. The party that solves this is us, the Azerbaijani state. We have resolved this unilaterally. If anyone, I hear from here and there, began to say that the issue must be resolved, this conflict has not been resolved. They are on the wrong and dangerous path. If it is not resolved, let them explain to us how it should be resolved. We believe that this has been resolved, and the war is over. Nevertheless, we are ready and must be ready for war at any moment. I said this in my statement on Armed Forces Day on June 26. We are implementing new plans for our army. But we believe that The conflict has been resolved, we have restored our territorial integrity. We have won. We do not have any other issues on the agenda today. We have crossed our borders and taken control of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. We have already started construction work. If someone says that the conflict is not resolved, let him come, how does he see the solution, what is not resolved? If we are talking about the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, I said that there is no territorial unit called Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. In general, this word, expression should not be used. There is no Nagorno-Karabakh, there is Karabakh. The Karabakh economic zone was established on the basis of the decree I signed on July 7, and so on. All regions of Karabakh are united there. East Zangazur economic zone has been established. Now Armenia is hysterical about this issue. No need for that, East Zangazur is our historical land, West Zangazur is our historical land. We cannot forget history, we cannot turn it into a hostage of someone's political interests. Let them come, open historical documents, maps, look at when the Soviet government tore Zangazur from Azerbaijan and handed it over to Armenia. This is a recent date - 101 years ago. So let's say it didn't happen? Why? We tell the truth. It is the land of our ancestors: all of Zangazur - East and West Zangazur. Now it is said in Armenia that Ilham Aliyev is making a territorial claim. If there is East Zangazur, then there is also West Zangazur. Yes, West Zangazur is our ancestral land. I said we have to go back there. I said this ten years ago. All my speeches are in the press. I said that it is the land of our ancestors, we have to go back there and we will come back and we will come back. No one can stop us. We will definitely return, because there is no other way.
“Now, when all communications are open, of course, we will return and the people of Azerbaijan will return to their ancestral lands. The November 10 Tripartite Declaration states: All refugees must return to their homelands. Our native land is Zangazur, our native land is Goycha district, Yerevan. We will return, of course.
“I want to touch on another issue today. I have already said this several times. I think I need to clarify this in front of you. I have said several times that we are ready to sign a peace agreement with Armenia. That is, we are ready to begin this work. However, there is no reaction from Armenia, no official reaction. The information we received through unofficial channels is that Armenia is not ready for this. I think this would be a big mistake. Just as on the eve of the war and during the war, the Armenian side made great mistakes and committed war crimes. This could be the next big mistake. Because our proposal is based on a new real situation. We believe that the issue has been resolved and there should be a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. There must be recognition of each other's territorial integrity, borders must be recognized, delimitation work must be started. I must also say that international organizations are now reacting positively to the delimitation work. If Armenia does not want to do that, it can, but let them think well, then it may be too late. Just as in the past, if they had left our lands voluntarily, they would not have been so humiliated. Our proposal is the proposal of the winning country, the proposal of the strong side, the proposal of the victorious people. If there is a negative reaction to this in Armenia, they know it themselves. But again, they will regret it. From now on, we will only move forward. We are systematically implementing plans for all our construction work, and construction work has already begun. As I said, we will turn Karabakh and East Zangazur into a paradise.”