During 2.5-hour interview, Pres. Aliyev made existential threats against Armenia

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev (President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, January 10, 2024)

Pres. Ilham Aliyev, the dictator of Baku, gave a 2.5-hour-long press conference to Azeri journalists on January 10, 2024, during which he spewed not only his usual lies but also made threats against Armenia’s very existence. Here are the highlights of Aliyev’s extremely arrogant and alarming words, emboldened by his military victories in the 2020 and 2023 Artsakh wars.

To begin with, Aliyev claimed: “Today’s Azerbaijan is among the strongest countries of the world in the truest sense of the word.” This is not true. According to globalfirepower.com, as of 2024, Azerbaijan’s military is ranked 59th in the world. This is far from being one of the strongest countries in the world. Had it not been for the direct control of the Azeri military by Turkish generals and the use of terrorist mercenaries from Syria during the 2020 Artsakh War, Azerbaijan would not have been able to defeat Artsakh. Aliyev admitted during his press conference that Azerbaijan enjoyed the full backing of Turkey during the 2020 war.

Pres. Aliyev justified Azerbaijan’s serious violations of human rights, even genocide against Artsakh Armenians, by stating: “I have repeatedly said that international law does not work. These mechanisms are deployed only for the weaker countries. Bigger states ignore them. For them, it is as if law is not law, international law is not law. Under such circumstances, countries that demand justice, and rightly so, must secure this justice themselves.”

Aliyev admitted the difficulties that Azerbaijan’s military faced during the 2020 war: “Had the war continued [after Nov. 10, 2020], it would have been very difficult to liberate the Kalbajar and Lachin districts, especially in the winter season. However, we would have done that, too. But our losses could have been extremely high, even higher than in the 44-day war. We all knew that well, because even now anyone visiting those regions can see how challenging the terrain is. However, if Armenia had not signed the act of capitulation, we would have continued the war until the end.”

Aliyev’s next lie is that after the 2020 war, Armenia was “illegally transporting weapons, ammunition, mines and manpower to Karabakh.” This never happened. Aliyev used it as a pretext to attack Artsakh.

The President of Azerbaijan revealed that before the Sept. 19, 2023 Azeri attack on Artsakh, “some of the local Armenians contacted our representatives and made suggestions about contacts, and we did not reject that.” Any Armenian who made secret contacts with the enemy should be considered a traitor.

Aliyev then made another important admission. He said that during the Sept. 19, 2023 attack on Artsakh, “had they [Artsakh Armenians] not surrendered, they would have been eliminated. There was no other option.” Aliyev thus confirmed that Artsakh leaders had no choice but to surrender in order to save the lives of 120,000 Artsakh Armenians.

Aliyev confirmed that he had planned the arrest of Artsakh leaders who are now held in a Baku jail: “Our position regarding the leaders of the separatists was unequivocal—their capture. Some of them tried to escape from there through the Lachin road, others were found in Khankendi [Stepanakert] and elsewhere. We knew their whereabouts.” He added that “only two people are missing from that group—they are in Yerevan.” Aliyev meant Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan.

Pres. Aliyev disclosed that he had personally warned Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan about the impending Azeri attack on Artsakh on Sept. 19, 2023: “I told both the Armenian leadership and international actors that I could press the button and carry out this operation in a minute, and they would not be able to do anything.”

Aliyev also vented his anger at France’s support for Armenia, condemned that country’s colonial past and alleged that Paris had committed genocide against 1.5 million Algerians. He also ridiculed Armenia’s recent purchase of French armored personnel carriers by calling them “tin cans” that are not “a real threat to us.”

Aliyev also rejected the latest Pashinyan initiative—‘Crossroads of Peace’—which is supposed to link Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and Iran. Aliyev said that this is just a PR campaign meant to replace his preferred ‘Zangezur Corridor.’ Ignoring Armenia’s sovereignty, Aliyev insisted that Armenia allow Azeri cargo to pass from Azerbaijan to its exclave Nakhichevan through Meghri, Armenia, without any inspection or customs clearance. If not, Aliyev warned, Azerbaijan will continue its blockade of Armenia.

The President of Azerbaijan bragged that there is no longer any mention of Karabakh in the ‘Peace Treaty’ being negotiated between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Aliyev dismissed Pashinyan’s suggestion to demarcate the mutual border between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the basis of the 1975 Soviet maps, preferring older maps that he claimed gave Azerbaijan much more territory. He also mentioned the ridiculous notion that ‘Irevan’ (Yerevan) is an ancient Azeri city. Aliyev also claimed that eight Azeri villages are located within Armenia. Importantly, Aliyev stated that Azerbaijan will not withdraw its military from parts of the territory of the Republic of Armenia it has occupied since May 2021 and September 2022. He suggested that Armenia and Azerbaijan sign a peace treaty now, leaving the demarcation of the border to a future date.

Facing such an arrogant and warmongering leader as Aliyev, Pashinyan should stop begging for peace, which is a sign of weakness, giving Azerbaijan the opportunity to demand more concessions from Armenia. Armenia’s top two priorities should be having a competent leader and a powerful military to fend off threats from its two enemies: Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

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