BAKU, Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said Wednesday that border clashes may stop if the Armenian army withdraws its troops.

“If this issue is not resolved through negotiations, I have said that Azerbaijan has all the rights to solve this problem through military means. This right was given to us by the Azerbaijani people and international law,” said Aliyev, who was visiting Azerbaijani soldiers injured in renewed clashes which started last Sunday.

He said strategic positions in the occupied Upper Karabakh region were liberated.

“Ours is the cause of justice, we are fighting on our own lands, we are fighting for the motherland,” he added.

He noted that Armenia has occupied the landlocked mountainous Azerbaijani territory for nearly 30 years, destroying infrastructure and historical sites there and expelling more than 1 million people from their own lands.

He thanked Turkey for its unwavering support after the fresh flare-up on the border.

“[Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan’s clear stance shows that Azerbaijan is not alone. Turkey stands with Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan stands with Turkey,” he said.

The EU, Russia, and NATO, among others, have urged an immediate halt to clashes along the frontier.

Relations between the two former Soviet nations have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Four UN Security Council and two UN General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying forces.

The OSCE Minsk Group — co-chaired by France, Russia, and the US — was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed upon in 1994.

* Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

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