AzerNews, Azerbaijan
Sept 22 2005

President Ilham Aliyev praised the plight of Azerbaijani military at a
meeting on the development of army-building at the Ministry of Defense
on Friday. Army building is successfully developing in the country,
its military potential is strengthening and the process will continue
to proceed rapidly in the future, Aliyev said.

"The preparedness and processes of expanding the logistics of our
military are commendable." Touching upon the Armenia-Azerbaijan
conflict over Upper Garabagh, he said that Azerbaijan should restore
its territorial integrity. "We are trying to solve it through peace and
negotiations. But as you know, the talks that proceeded for many years
have yielded no results. In general, a fair solution of the problem
is possible and I believe we will achieve this, as international
legal norms are on our side.

Upper Garabagh is an inseparable part of Azerbaijan and our
territorial integrity is recognized and supported by the entire
world community." Aliyev also spoke of historic facts. "The historic
truth is on our side as well. It is common knowledge that Armenians
started coming to Upper Garabagh after 1828. I recall that in 1978, a
monument was built to mark the 150th anniversary of Garabagh Armenians'
arrival. Indeed, after Armenian separatists occupied those territories,
the monument was demolished. But this is history and everyone knows
this." Aliyev continued that Azerbaijan has achieved significant
economic advantage over Armenia in recent years.

"Particularly, in 2004-2005, Azerbaijan's budget considerably
increased. Considering that the country's future economic prospects
are also very promising, this advantage will further increase." The
President cited the 'positive development of political processes'
around the world, in the region, as well as in international
organizations dealing with the Garabagh conflict. "Four resolutions
of the United Nations are in force. These resolutions demand Armenia
to unconditionally withdraw its armed forces from the occupied land.

Azerbaijan has lately brought the issue to the attention of UN again
and it was included in the General Assembly agenda. This is our great
diplomatic success." Aliyev noted that the OSCE directly dealing with
the conflict delegated a fact-finding mission to the region. The report
it published indicated that thousands of Armenians are being illegally
settled in the occupied territories. "This shows how much Armenia is
ignoring the demands of the world community and international legal
norms." Aliyev recalled that the Council of Europe passed a very
unequivocal and fair resolution on the Garabagh conflict in January. It
said that Armenia has committed aggression against Azerbaijan,
occupied Azeri land and pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing,
which turned over a million Azerbaijanis into refugees and displaced
persons. "But no matter how much we may talk of diplomatic, economic
and political success, the problem remains unresolved. What should
Azerbaijan do in this case? The country has pursued peaceful policy
for many years. But the issue has not been resolved yet. Strengthening
our military potential is therefore natural." The President said that
first of all, Azerbaijan is a country living in a state of war. "Our
land is under occupation and this is our number one problem. Our
primary task should be strengthening our defense capabilities. On the
other hand, very efficient economic reforms underway in Azerbaijan
are strengthening our economic potential." Aliyev emphasized that the
country's budget is rapidly increasing. Next year's budget will exceed
$3.5 billion and the figure is currently being specified. Military
spending is therefore growing as well. The figure was $175 million
in 2004 and will make up $300 million in 2005 and $600 million next
year, the President said. "As you know, I have set out a goal to
bring Azerbaijan's military expenses to the level of Armenia's total
state budget soon. It will even exceed the figure and we will achieve
this." The President noted that Azerbaijan's increasing military
power alarms Armenia and some international organizations. "We have
heard such statements. We are also concerned over a number of issues,
including the recent transfer of arms from Georgia to Armenia by
Russia, which is a co-chair of the [OSCE] Minsk Group. We are also
concerned over the military exercises underway in Armenia. The primary
reason for our increasing military budget is Russia's illegal transfer
of weaponry worth $1 billion to Armenia in mid-1990s. We are therefore
taking and will continue to take adequate steps." Aliyev said the fact
that Azerbaijani territories have remained under occupation for over 10
years should be a concern for the parties dealing with the problem,
as well as organizations and countries playing a leading role in
these entities. They should also be concerned over the fact that Azeri
citizens continue to live as refugees and IDPs and the international
community's indifferent approach. "Our country's increasing military
budget is our sovereign right and should not perturb anyone. This is
our business and we will pursue this as much as we deem possible in
the future", the President concluded.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress