BAKU: Azerbaijan on Tuesday raised the spectre of a fresh war with arch-foe Armenia and denounced stalled peace talks over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region.
The two ex-Soviet republics have for decades been locked in a simmering conflict over the breakaway territory, which was at the heart of a bloody war in the 1990s.
Since the fragile 1994 cease-fire, peace talks between Baku and Yerevan have been mediated by the so-called Minsk Group of diplomats from France, Russia, and the United States.
“We are trying to be constructive and tolerant but negotiations are practically on hold today,” President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview with several TV stations.
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He said Azerbaijan would withdraw from the negotiations “if they yield no results.” He did not provide further details.
Citing the right to self-defense enshrined in the United Nations Charter, Aliyev rejected the negotiators’ premise that “there is no military solution to the conflict.”
“We have proven our case in the international arena and on the battlefield. Everyone should remember the April fighting,” he said, referring to deadly clashes in Karabakh that nearly spiralled into all-out war in 2016.
Ethnic-Armenian separatists seized Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a war that claimed 30,000 lives in the early 1990s, but the international community still views the region as part of Azerbaijan.
Energy-rich Azerbaijan, whose military spending exceeds Armenia’s entire state budget, has repeatedly threatened to take back the breakaway territory by force.
Moscow-allied Armenia has vowed to crush any military offensive.