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Azerbaijani President Criticizes Armenia On Karabakh Talks

Armenian soldiers on parade in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.
BAKU -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has accused Armenia of delaying efforts to resolve the conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Speaking at the opening of an apartment building in Baku for 369 internally displaced families on November 17, Aliyev said that although the OSCE Minsk Group was established in 1992 to resolve the Karabakh dispute, he said there have been no results from their activities.

Aliyev said the main issue in the OSCE-led talks with the Armenians is the "withdrawal of Armenian troops from all seven occupied territories," referring to the Azerbaijani areas around Nagorno-Karabakh that are occupied by Armenian forces.

Aliyev said Azerbaijanis who have been displaced from those territories and Karabakh are "also part of the discussion" and act as "a stimulus for us to participate in negotiations."

He said Armenian negotiators "keep dragging their feet over issues and prolonging the negotiations." But Aliyev said such a tactic "will not give them anything," and that Armenia's goal is to "populate our lands with Armenians, but they don't have enough people.”

Aliyev said that Armenia’s population has fallen to 1.7 million (contradicting an official estimate of 3.26 million in 2008.) “It will be difficult for them to defend their front line," he said. In contrast, he continued, "Azerbaijan's opportunities, economy, and demography are growing. Our population is already 9 million. In five or six years we are going to be 10 million."

Aliyev predicted that in a few years, the Azerbaijani economy will be 13-15 times larger than Armenia's.

Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian will meet under the auspices of the OSCE at the French Consulate in Munich on November 22 for further talks on Karabakh.