BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --
In the wake of increased hostilities in the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh and other territories occupied by Armenia, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev accused Armenian officials of a hostile "campaign of propaganda".
Speaking at the Fourth Congress of World Azerbaijanis held in Baku, Aliyev said the aim of the campaign is to "blacken Azerbaijan, portray it as an anti-democratic state and circulate false and fictitious information about the history of Nagorno-Karabakh."
He stressed that Nagorno-Karabakh is historical and native Azerbaijani land. "Armenians were resettled to Karabakh from Eastern Anatolia and Iran in the early 19th century," he said. "In 1978, even a monument was erected in Nagorno-Karabakh to mark the 150th anniversary of the resettlement of Armenians to Nagorno-Karbakh."
The Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding provinces were occupied by Armenia during the post-Soviet power vacuum, resulting in about 30,000 deaths and nearly one million refugees and internally displaced people. Many international bodies, including the United Nations, European Parliament, OSCE and most recently the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the Azerbaijani territories.
Aliyev also addressed remarks by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan at a recent summit of the Eurasian Economic Union, in which he suggested that Azerbaijan was responsible for starting the recent hostilities. "Seeing that pressure on them to resolve the issue peacefully is mounting and statements are made about the need to change the status quo - which would mean a withdrawal of occupying from our lands - they resort to provocations," Aliyev added.
The Azerbaijani President also questioned the existence of "Nagorno-Karabakh army". "It is a myth intended to mislead the international community," he said. According to Aliyev, "The people serving in the Armenian armed forces in Nagorno-Karabakh are citizens of Armenia, 80% of them are citizens of Armenia, born in Armenia."
Days of heavy fighting in the region erupted in April between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces, resulting in hundreds of casualties. The halt in hostilities is fragile.
SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor