Following the joint meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has been interviewed by TV channels in Munich.
President Ilham Aliyev: Salaam alaikum.
Journalists: Hello, Mr. President.
Journalist: The meeting has probably been held. How did it go?
President Ilham Aliyev: It went well. I think it was constructive. Many issues were discussed, including the signing of the peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the existence of the necessary conditions for the signing of the agreement. Of course, I reiterated my position. The key thing is that this peace agreement should be based on international norms and principles. Any provision in relation to Karabakh is unacceptable. Azerbaijan’s position in this respect has been communicated. Three days ago, we received new responses to our proposals from Armenia. We are elaborating them now. At first glance, there is progress in Armenia's position, but it is not sufficient. So this is the main issue discussed. Of course, the situation on the Lachin-Khankendi road was also discussed. I reiterated Azerbaijan's position that there is no question of any kind of blockade. More than 2,500 trucks and Red Cross vehicles have passed along the road since December 12, and if there had been a blockade, how could these vehicles have got through? In other words, this is an unfounded accusation against Azerbaijan, we are rejecting it, and I can say that this position was met with understanding in all the meetings I have had. The European Union understands our position as well. We rightfully demand that the illegal exploitation of our fields be stopped and until this is achieved, I am sure that our social activists will not give up their honorable mission. I have tried to communicate this message as well today. I have also stated that it would be good if Armenia and Azerbaijan established checkpoints on the Armenian-Azerbaijan border in a bilateral manner. We made this suggestion earlier and made it official today. Previously, this suggestion was communicated through unofficial channels. Armenia did not voice any position. They probably need some time to discuss it.
But our initial impression is that both Europe and America view this proposal of ours as logical. This is certainly an important factor in the normalization of relations between the two countries. Because if we are talking about border delimitation, it is impossible to achieve without checkpoints. If we are talking about the opening of communications, of course, checkpoints should be established at both ends of the Zangezur corridor and at the border between Lachin district and Armenia. Today, at the meeting held with the participation of Secretary of State Blinken, I officially put forward this as a proposal. We will wait for a response from Armenia.
Journalist: Mr. President, a panel discussion is expected to take place at 19:30 Baku time. Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili will also participate in this panel discussion. Can the Tbilisi format come up?
President Ilham Aliyev: Maybe. Because it would be natural. We are also welcoming that. This issue was discussed during my visit to Georgia. The Armenian side is somewhat hesitant about this. But I think it would be fair. Initially, the participation of the Armenian Prime Minister was not envisaged. His name was not mentioned in the initial proposal given to me. He probably decided to attend last night. I think this is a good development because, finally, some cooperation among the three South Caucasus countries can be started.
Journalist: How do you see the normalization of relations between Iran and Azerbaijan? Who should take the first step?
President Ilham Aliyev: You mean who was responsible? You heard about the terror act against our embassy, which was the organized act of terror against the Azerbaijani diplomatic premises. During 30-40 minutes the terrorist was not disarmed, and the police cars coming and going, security officers allowed him to break in twice and kill one security officer and injure two others. And only bravery of one of security officers, who with empty hands disarmed that terrorist, saved lives of maybe of dozens of Azerbaijanis. Because there were the families of the diplomats, including children live in that building. Therefore, we demand immediate and transparent investigation. And the fact that right after this act of terror, the terrorist was interviewed by Iranian media demonstrates that he is one of those who was sent by some of the branches of the Iranian establishment. And another strange thing was that just two days after, he was announced as mentally disabled. How could they hold this expertise immediately? That is an attempt to protect him from justice. Therefore, the Iranian government should have a transparent investigation. We must be informed about that, the terrorist must be punished, but most importantly, those who sent the terrorist, those representatives of the Iranian establishment, who did this brutal act against Azerbaijan, must be brought to justice. Only after that, we can talk about any kind of normalization.
Following a plenary session on “Moving Mountains? Building Security in the South Caucasus” in Munich, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has been interviewed by the Azerbaijani TV channels.
- Mr. President, Real Television will have a question, if we may. The security of the South Caucasus has been discussed, i.e. you were also here in 2020, and considering what happened during these two to three years, you have actually put forward a map of the South Caucasus in terms of security.
- Of course, the situation in our region has completely changed after the second Karabakh war. New realities have emerged, and of course, we must be ready for strengthening our position in these new realities. Today's panel discussion once again showed that some people do not want to come to terms with these realities, but they will have to do that. Because we are living in a real world and the processes taking place in our region certainly require new approaches.
I am glad that the Munich Security Conference as a reputable international forum pays a special attention to this issue. You might have seen that the number of participants was quite large and the interest was quite strong. If this discussion lasted a couple of hours more, no one would have left the meeting.
As for Azerbaijan's position, our position is unequivocal and clear. I have expressed it in closed-door meetings and in my official statements. Today, at the event initiated by Secretary of State Blinken, I stated that we are supporters of justice. We have never allowed outside forces to interfere in our internal affairs and we will never allow it. Karabakh is Azerbaijan! I said this before the war. Today, not only me but also the whole world is saying and seeing this.
As for the normalization of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, our position here is completely logical. We want this normalization to happen as soon as possible and the period of enmity to be left in the past. If the Armenian side finds the determination and strength in itself, I am sure that it will be possible to achieve this in the near future.
- Thank you. The Armenian prime minister has voiced non-objective opinions again. In other words, in the second meeting too, so to speak, he is still toeing his line. What do they want?
- I don't know, you can explain this better. Of course, I know that many of you were expecting something about the “Caucasian bureau”, but fortunately it didn’t happen this time. And yet, from the point of view of sincerity, I think that a more complete picture could have been created.
Because you know that it is impossible to conceal the truth or distort the reality today. We live in the information age. Everyone knows what is happening where. Therefore, frivolous and manipulative statements are certainly not taken seriously. Our position is clear. First of all, what we say is based on the reality. Secondly, we are making our position clear. International partners are also aware of what we want.
We want the Karabakh issue to be removed from the international agenda. We cannot allow the Karabakh issue to be included in the agreement to be signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia in any form. I also stated this at the meeting held with the participation of Mr. Blinken today. We want our borders to be delimited based on historical maps. This also has a historical logic. We want Armenia to give up its territorial claims against us and normalization to happen.
What does Armenia want? We cannot understand that. Sometimes they say that they will not comment on the events taking place on the Lachin-Khankendi road and that this matter is not related to them. Sometimes they say that they want to deal with the “Nagorno-Karabakh problem”. Therefore, they should define it for themselves, articulate it correctly and convey their position to foreign partners, if there is such a position.
- Mr. President, we would like to ask one more question. Was any opinion voiced regarding France's biased position during the meeting with the representatives of the European Union? We would like to hear about that.
- It might not be right for me to say something about this. But, of course, this issue was on the agenda of all meetings. I think that the fair position of Azerbaijan is accepted with understanding.
- Mr. President, I am sorry, I will ask one more question. Energy security panels are being held here. In general, what is your take on that? The initiatives Azerbaijan has made recently in relation to energy security, the contracts signed in Bulgaria and Romania, and with the European Union, i.e. Azerbaijan is actually acting as the driving force here. Again, we would like to hear from you about this.
- This is natural. It is probably already true and there is no need for further comments. Both within the framework of the Davos Forum and here, energy security issues are at the forefront of the agenda. Of course, Azerbaijan is highly respected here as the owner of a new source and as a country that has done a lot for European energy security. I can say that our contribution to European energy security is acknowledged in many meetings and words of gratitude are spoken to me.
Both Europe and Azerbaijan can only benefit here. In fact, we are already doing that. It is beyond doubt that the more successful our energy diplomacy, the better our country's interests will be provided.
Journalists: Thank you very much.