BAKU, Azerbaijan (A.W.)—Armenian authorities have harshly criticized Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s address to the sixth congress of his New Azerbaijan (Yeni Azerbaycan) party on Thursday, calling his remarks racist.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev vowed to “return Azerbaijanis” to Armenia during his address to his party faithful ahead of snap presidential elections slated for April 11.
Our historical lands are the Irevan [Yerevan] Khanate, Zangazur, and Goycha. Younger generation and the whole world should know this,” Aliyev said in his address. “Irevan is our historical land, and we, Azerbaijanis, should return to these historic lands. This is our political and strategic goal, and we must gradually approach it,” he added. “This is our strategic goal and we must gradually move closer to achieving this goal,” he then declared.
Armenia Reacts to Aliyev’s Comments
Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs harshly criticized Aliyev’s comments on Friday. Ministry spokesperson Tigran Balayan said in a statement that Aliyev’s call is a manifestation of the “racist essence of the ruling regime in Baku.”
“The territorial claims of the President of Azerbaijan—a state that emerged on the world’s political map only 100 years ago—are not new. This statement, together with repeated declarations that Armenians of the world are the number one enemies of Azerbaijan, once again demonstrate the racist essence of the ruling regime in Baku,” Balayan said.
Aliyev has made similar claims in the past. In Jan. 2014, he claimed that present-day Armenia was, in fact, Azerbaijan’s historic territory and vowed that the future would see a “return of those lands.” His remarks had come days before a scheduled meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers.
Deputy Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Eduard Sharmazanov said of Aliyev’s latest comments, “Empty pots make the most noise.”
“In the 21st century, it is unacceptable when a president of a country expresses territorial claims in relation to the neighboring country. Such verbal attacks of Ilham Aliyev remind us of Adolf Hitler,” Sharmazanov told reporters in Yerevan.
Commenting on Aliyev’s dreams of annexing Yerevan, Sharmazanov noted that one of the Azerbaijani President’s predecessors, Abulfaz Elchibey, also made similar claims of campturing and “having tea in” Stepanakert, Artsakh’s capital. “The results are obvious,” Sharmazanov said about Elchibey’s comments.
Sharmazanov then urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group co-chairs and the wider international community to pay close attention to Aliyev’s statement and draw appropriate conclusions.
Armenian President Serge Sarkisian also mentioned “the latest statements coming from Baku,” during talks on Friday in Yerevan with Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russia, Stéphane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the U.S., and Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk. Sarkisian noted that Aliyev’s latest comments prove how far Azerbaijan is from being willing to advance the Artsakh negotiation process on the basis of proposals presented by the Minsk Group.
The co-chairs, briefed Sarkisian on their forthcoming work plans. Sarkisian reaffirmed Armenia’s readiness to continue together with the Minsk Group in their efforts toward the peaceful settlement of the conflict through negotiations.