The future border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the situation around the Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin corridor, the mediation efforts of the West and Russia in the settlement of the decades-old conflict, and the long road to peace - these topics were also addressed by the President of Azerbaijan in an interview with Euronews. The questions that Anelise Borges, the international correspondent of the news agency, asked Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed to Ilham Aliyev as well.
Anelise Borges: What would you say your mission is?
Ilham Aliyev (President of Azerbaijan) - Well, to win the war was the mission of my life, of my political life, which ended successfully. And now we talk about peace. If Armenia wants peace, we will reach it. Because we do not have any territorial claims to Armenia and we don't want them to have any territorial claims. I mean, people who live in Karabakh in the area which is controlled now temporarily by Russian peacekeepers, they live in Azerbaijan, and they should choose whether to live as citizens or as ethnic minority, as any other ethnic minority, which Azerbaijanis rich of – or to leave. So this is their choice.
Aliyev stated that since we established the border checkpoint on the 23rd of April, there have been more than 2000 residents of Karabakh who easily moved to Armenia and back.
Aliyev spoke about the negotiation process, emphasized that the trilateral statement of November 9 does not imply the establishment of lasting peace, so the parties have started the final settlement process. He added that the negotiations are not smooth, but Baku does not lose optimism, because now very active discussions are going on.
Ilham Aliyev (President of Azerbaijan) - Our meetings in Brussels, organized by President of European Council, are meetings that actually allow us to touch upon very sensitive issues like future parameters of the boundaries, because the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan has not been defined. So how the border will look like? What will be the real situation on the ground? What will be a situation with communications? So main concentration on paragraphs of peace treaty are made by the ministers. Our meetings, they just create, I think, a good atmosphere. But if we see a constructive approach from Armenian side and - most important - if they totally put down all their aspirations to contest our territorial integrity, then we can find the peace solution very soon, maybe even by the end of the year.
Speaking about mediators involved in the peace process, Aliyev noted that considering the level of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union and Armenia and the European Union, the EU can be the best mediator.
Ilham Aliyev (President of Azerbaijan) - I think it's natural for EU to be active. The EU can be the best because our relations with the EU are based on mutual respect and mutual trust and mutual interest. So this initiative now is transforming into a very active form of dialog because we meet not only in Brussels. I think it's important because, we do not allow situation to stagnate. Because if it is stagnation, if it's again kind of a break, then we are not guaranteed from any dangerous scenario.
Anelise Borges: And do you think that the growing mediation of the West, the EU, but also the United States, has somewhat antagonized a more traditional power broker here in the region, Russia ? or the other way around, the fact that Russia has somewhat been bogged down in Ukraine has left some space for potentially Azerbaijan and Armenia to come to common ground.
Ilham Aliyev (President of Azerbaijan) - Well, actually, Russia was the mediator of a cease fire agreement or declaration of 10th November 2020. And it was not the United States, it was not EU. And our first meetings with my Armenian colleague were organized by Russia in Russia. So after Russian-Ukrainian war situation have changed and we started to see that the United States and Europe became more active. And actually, for us, it's not actually a big difference who will lead the process or who will, to certain degree, monopolize the negotiation process, the important is to come to the result.
Aliyev stressted that Azerbaijan's relations with Russia will be balanced, "Russia is a neighbor and a partner."
The Euronews correspondent, summarizing the interviews and her contacts with the locals, concluded that any diplomatic settlement between Azerbaijan and Armenia should exclusively take into account the interests of the people. Only in this way is it possible to build a new reality for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan, although it may take a long time.