Armenia was hoping to get Russia’s support but Russia acted appropriately and chose to not choose sides, and it has been neutral on the issue since,” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Monday, speaking about recent tensions in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region during an interview with Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT.
“Armenia is still trying to pull Russia onto its side, but it won’t succeed,” he said, adding that the region was internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory and that Armenia was an occupying force.
Despite its disadvantaged position and the fact that virtually every country recognizes Armenia as an occupier, the country’s lobby groups continue their smear campaigns, according to Aliyev.
“Smear campaigns against Azerbaijan continue unabated. Armenian lobbies all around the globe are trying their best to slander us,” he said.
“French President Emmanuel Macron made some allegations against us in a phone call, and I demanded that he prove them. He failed to provide any proof,” Aliyev added, regarding the accusations Azerbaijan faces daily.
The president also added that Azerbaijanis had no problems with the Armenians as a people but that their government was the issue.
“We have many Armenian citizens; we have no problem whatsoever with Armenian people. Armenians are simply hostages to their government,” he said.
“The Armenians of occupied Nagorno-Karabakh are our own citizens. We officially consider them to be Azerbaijani citizens. Azerbaijan will reinstate its territorial integrity, and we are close to that goal,” he said.
Aliyev also commended Turkey’s efforts to support the country.
“Turkey’s high-tech armed drones have helped reduce the loss of life. These armed drones show Turkey’s potential and strengthen us,” he said.
The president also said that PKK terrorists were present in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“We have intelligence regarding the presence of PKK terrorists in Armenian-occupied parts of Karabakh,” he said.
Armenia has launched missile attacks targeting civilian settlements in Azerbaijan, shortly after it resumed attacks in the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh area.
Border clashes broke out last week when Armenian forces targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, leading to casualties. Azerbaijan’s parliament declared martial law in certain cities and regions following Armenia’s border violations and attacks in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Relations between the two former Soviet nations have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.
Four U.N. Security Council (UNSC) and two U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions, as well as many international organizations, have demanded the withdrawal of the occupying forces.