Azerbaijan threatens force over Nagorno-Karabakh

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2009 12:21 PM

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan said Saturday his nation may resort to military force if talks with Armenia on resolving a long-standing territorial dispute produce no result.

Aliyev said he expects to hold talks next week with his Armenian counterpart, Serge Sarkisian, on resolving the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. "If that meeting fails to produce result, our hopes for negotiations will vanish," Aliyev said during a meeting with Azerbaijani refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh.

The mountainous region is an enclave in Azerbaijan that has been under control of Armenian troops and ethnic Armenian forces since a 1994 cease-fire ended six years of war that killed about 30,000 people and displaced 1 million. Diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute have failed.

Aliyev said Azerbaijan wants a peaceful settlement, but won't wait indefinitely. "We have the right to free our land using military force," he said.

There was no immediate comment from Armenia's government.

Aliyev repeatedly has made similar threats in the past. His latest statement could be aimed at encouraging Azerbaijanis, who are concerned that Turkey's move last month to normalize ties with Armenia could ruin hopes for regaining control over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey has assured its ally Azerbaijan that it would continue supporting it in the dispute.