Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev, stated in a recent interview with Euronews that Azerbaijan has no territorial claims against Armenia, and he expects the same approach from Yerevan. President Aliyev was referring to the long-standing conflict over the breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Aliyev emphasized that the Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region should have the choice to live as citizens of Azerbaijan, as an ethnic minority, or to leave. He countered Yerevan’s allegations of ethnic cleansing by stating that Azerbaijan is providing ethnic Armenians with the opportunity to choose their own path, contrary to the claims made by the Armenian government. Accusations of ethnic cleansing have been made by both countries against each other for many years.
Yerevan has accused Baku of deliberately worsening the humanitarian situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region by disrupting the provision of essential goods, gas, and electricity. In June, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan even claimed that Azerbaijan had closed access to the disputed region, resulting in a halt of necessary supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh.
President Aliyev expressed hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and urged Yerevan to acknowledge Prime Minister Pashinyan’s earlier statements that recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. Peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been ongoing, with discussions held in Washington, Brussels, Moscow, and Chisinau last year, mediated by Russia, the US, and the EU.
The Nagorno-Karabakh dispute dates back to 1988 when the region, with a predominantly Armenian population, demanded to be transferred from Soviet Azerbaijan to Soviet Armenia. The tensions escalated into a full-scale war in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but tensions resurfaced in the 2010s, leading to the outbreak of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020.
The renewed hostilities prompted Russia to intervene and bring the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to the negotiating table. A ceasefire agreement was reached, and Russian peacekeepers were deployed along the contact line between the two countries’ territories.
President Aliyev’s statement emphasizes Azerbaijan’s commitment to a peaceful resolution, highlighting the importance of mutual understanding and respect between the two nations. The hope is that through continued dialogue and cooperation, a lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can be achieved. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan must work together to address the concerns and aspirations of all communities affected by the conflict in order to create a sustainable and prosperous future for the region.