The president of AzerbaijanIlham Aliyev on Sunday demanded that Armenia set an exit schedule from the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and the surrounding territories of Azerbaijan, and said his country would not cease military action until that happens.
In a televised address to the nation, Aliyev indicated that Azeri forces were advancing in an offensive to retake the lands they lost to ethnic Armenians in the 1990s. “The Azeri soldier is chasing them like a dog, the Azeri soldier is standing on their posts, we have taken away their weapons, we are fulfilling the liberation mission& rdquor ;, declared.
Threats and conditions
The content and tone of Aliyev’s message made it clear that Azerbaijan would not accept orders immediately. cessation of hostilities, as Russia, the United States and the European Union have repeatedly urged.
“Azerbaijan has one condition, and that is the liberation of its territories,” said the president. “Nagorno-Karabaj it is the territory of Azerbaijan. We must return and we will return & rdquor ;. Hundreds of people have been killed in the last week in fighting between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces, including more than 40 civilians.
Intervention of the powers
The fighting is the worst since the 1990s, when some 30,000 people died and they make the international community fear for stability in the southern Caucasus, where pipelines bring Azeri oil and gas to world markets.
The conflict threatens to drag in other regional powers as Azerbaijan is supported by Turkey, while Armenia has a defense pact with Russia.
Earlier on Sunday, Azerbaijan said the Armenian forces they had fired rockets at Ganja, the nation’s second largest city, killing one civilian and wounding 32. They threatened to retaliate by destroying military targets inside Armenia.
Armenia denied directing fire “of any kind & rdquor; towards Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh leader said his forces had attacked a military air base in Ganja, but then stopped shooting to avoid civilian casualties.