Author: Elchin HUSEYNOV
“Baku highly appreciates the role that the European Union plays in the post-conflict normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” said the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in his address to the participants of the international conference South Caucasus: Development and Cooperation held in Baku on April 29.
"We consider the EU an honest broker and welcome their efforts. Since the OSCE Minsk Group is not functioning any more, we think the EU can play its role in the normalisation process," Mr. Aliyev said.
He added that he was satisfied with the current regional configuration and noted the active dialogue in the Baku-Moscow-Ankara regional format. However, he believes that this trilateral format has not developed completely. "There are issues of mutual concern in various sectors, including transportation and energy. We have an active dialogue with both Turkey and Russia in different directions, but there is no trilateral format yet. It is too early to talk about it. But we are satisfied with the regional configuration," Mr. Aliyev said.
Azerbaijan and Russia are cooperating on a wide range of issues, and the declaration on allied cooperation signed in February 2022 meets Baku's interests. "The declaration between Azerbaijan and Russia reflects our strategic interests, because Russia is our neighbour, a partner that took an active part in ending the Second Garabagh War and has peacekeepers in Garabagh. There are other issues of long-term mutual cooperation with Russia, including in economy, energy, transportation, culture and humanitarian sphere, etc.," Mr. Aliyev said. He added that Baku was also working with Russia in the military sphere, buying weapons and military equipment at market prices.
"We buy various military equipment from Russia at market prices, unlike Armenia, which receives these weapons free of charge. Formally, they bought it on credit, but this credit has never been repaid," Mr. Aliyev said.
He also touched on the significance of the Shusha Declaration signed last June between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Turkey. "This document formalised our cooperation in all formats. By signing the Shusha Declaration, we declared to the world our unity with Turkey in both words and deeds", Mr. Aliyev said and emphasized that Azerbaijan and Turkey were allies in all areas, including in the military and defence industry.
In general, Mr. Aliyev believes that Azerbaijan has good relations with all countries in the region, including Georgia and Iran. "I hope there will also be good relations with Armenia. As a result, we will live in stability. Our main goal is to be able to allocate funds, billions of dollars, not for buying weapons, but for construction and creation," Mr. Aliyev concluded.
President noted that Armenia had previously rejected several proposals to hold trilateral talks at various levels, particularly between the foreign ministries, various specialists, and civil societies. "Our partners are aware of this. No one knows the reasons for their refusal. I think this approach is extremely unproductive. If we look at the future of the region, Armenia's policy contradicts any logic of regional security, cooperation and development in South Caucasus," Mr. Aliyev stressed.
According to him, the principles proposed by Azerbaijan to Armenia should be a basis for a peace treaty. "Armenia must understand that it cannot remain as an isolated island in the region. If Armenia establishes relations with Azerbaijan and renounces its territorial claims against Azerbaijan and Turkey, it will not hinder the process of trilateral cooperation," Mr. Aliyev said.
He also drew attention to positive signals that Baku continues to receive from Armenians in Garabagh. "We consider the Armenians living in Garabagh our nationals. We hope that they too will soon realise that as citizens of Azerbaijan they will have all the rights and freedoms and their security will be ensured. Azerbaijan, unlike Armenia, is a multi-ethnic country. All ethnic groups live here in peace and dignity, including ethnic Armenians. We have an Armenian minority and they have no problems," Mr. Aliyev said.