AzerNews Weekly, Azerbaijan
June 1 2006

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev sent a harsh message to Armenia
on Friday, a statement that follows a visit by the OSCE mediators
brokering settlement to the long-standing conflict over Upper (Nagorno)
Garabagh to the region. Aliyev said the occupied territories will be
freed no matter what it takes.

"We will make use of all means to liberate our land from occupation.

We will resort to diplomatic, economic, transport, and, if necessary,
military means, as this is our right," the Azerbaijani leader said
addressing celebrations dedicated to the Day of Republic, May 28.

"Armenia should think carefully - how long will the Azerbaijani people
tolerate this? They should withdraw from the Azerbaijani land they
occupied on their own free will, otherwise, a military option will
be used, as Azerbaijan will not allow the establishment of a second
Armenian state on its soil.

We will never allow Upper Garabagh's separation from Azerbaijan,"
the commander-in-chief said. "Independence is not measured by state
attributes alone. It is also directly related to the country's
pursuing an independent policy. The Armenian aggression is the main
threat posed to Azerbaijan's independence," he said. President Aliyev
said, however, that he does not support a resumption of military
action. "No one wants the war to be restarted. Who wants bloodshed
to take place again and people to die?" he enquired. Upper Garabagh,
which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, has both
Azeri and ethnic Armenian population. It was occupied by Armenia
in early 1990s, along with seven other Azerbaijani districts, after
large-scale hostilities that killed up to 30,000 people and forced over
a million Azeris out of their homes. The ceasefire accord was signed in
1994, but peace talks have been fruitless so far and refugees remain
stranded. President Aliyev condemned some international organizations
disregarding the Armenian policy of aggression. "Armenians celebrate
the day of 'liberation' of Shusha [an ancient Azeri town occupied by
Armenia during the hostilities].

The question is who was Shusha freed from? No one but Azerbaijanis
had lived there. This means Armenians mark the outcomes of their
ethnic cleansing policy on the state level. Why are international
organizations and rights groups as well as some forces within the
country who blare about democracy and human rights turning a blind
eye to this?" It appears that the United States has set out a goal
to fully resolve the Upper Garabagh conflict as early as in 2006,
considering the latest message from US President George Bush. Bush sent
a letter to his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev on Friday saying
that he is looking forward to consistent efforts by the Azerbaijani
head of state to achieve a negotiated settlement to the Garabagh
dispute. In his message sent on the occasion of the Day of Republic,
he also expressed hope that peace talks to settle the conflict would
continue. Bush indicated that President Aliyev's visit to Washington
late in April was very beneficial, saying the talks he had with his
Azerbaijani counterpart were a historic chance to advance mutual
interests in the area of security, energy and democracy. The US
president wrote that the Azerbaijani government remains committed to
achieving a prosperous and bright future for the people and voiced
confidence that the democratic and economic reforms will be continued
to ensure the country's future success.

Mediators urge 'peace option' The OSCE mediators have reaffirmed the
need to seek a peaceful solution to the Garabagh conflict, saying it
is time for the sides to reach agreement on key principles of the peace
process. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigori Karasin, US Assistant
Secretary of State Daniel Fried and former French ambassador to Russia
and China Pierre Morel, who accompanied the Minsk Group co-chairs
from Russia, US and France and the OSCE chairman's special envoy on
their visit to Baku, issued a joint statement last Wednesday. The
intermediaries said their respective countries and the world community
in particular are confident that any option other than peace will not
lead to the conflict settlement. "Both countries should prepare their
people not for war but peace." The co-chairmen indicated that the way
the negotiations will unfold depends on Azerbaijan and Armenia proper.

"We are leaving Azerbaijan with hope and confidence for progress,"
the statement reads. US Assistant Secretary of State Fried has urged
the sides to take decisive actions to reach a solution on Garabagh.

"All the nations in the region are entitled to peace. To make this
happen, resolute steps on the state level are required. I believe
both President Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Robert
Kocharian are capable of achieving peace." Foreign Minister Elmar
Mammadyarov said some of the new ideas put forth by the mediators
are acceptable for Azerbaijan. "There are interesting ideas. We are
satisfied with some of them," he told the press while commenting
on the suggestions made by the Minsk Group co-chairs during their
visit to Baku. Mammadyarov added that during the talks with the
intermediaries, work was carried out on these ideas, but he did not
provide any details. Nonetheless, Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov
said the MG co-chairs did not bring any specific proposals. "By making
such statements, they are just trying to raise the magnitude of their
activity in the eyes of the public. The mediators undoubtedly must
justify their actions, which is why we hear statements about new ideas
every time," Azimov said. Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia Ilham
Aliyev and Robert Kocharian have agreed to hold the next meeting to
discuss Garabagh settlement in Bucharest.

The meeting between the two heads of state is to take place on the
sidelines of the Black Sea Summit for Dialogue and Partnership due in
the Romanian capital June 4-6. Azerbaijan and Armenia failed to agree
upon the issues of principle during the latest talks held by the two
presidents in Rambouillet, France in February, which was followed by
Azerbaijan's threats to resort to military action.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress