Azerbaijan leader unleashes anti-Armenia Twitter tirade
BAKU - Agence France-Presse
President of Azerbaidjan Ilham Aliyev. AFP Photo
Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev caused an Internet storm today after his official Twitter account posted a tirade of several dozen sharply worded statements against neighbouring Armenia.
Most of the brief messages were recycled from a long speech Aliyev gave last week, but the sudden broadside of inflammatory tweets posted Tuesday afternoon prompted a top Armenian lawmaker to compare the messages with Nazi German propaganda.
"The Armenian lobby is our main enemy and we are the main enemy for them," said Aliyev's official Twitter account, @presidentaz.
"Armenia is a country of no value. It is actually a colony, an outpost run from abroad.... Evidence of this is the mass exodus of people from Armenia to other countries," another tweet read.
Energy-rich Muslim Azerbaijan has been in a bitter conflict with its land-locked Christian neighbour Armenia over the territory of Nagorny Karabakh for decades. The two fought a war in the 1990s that left about 30,000 people dead.
"Azerbaijan grows stronger and more powerful by the year, while Armenia weakens and declines every year," Aliyev said in a further tweet.
The tirade drew a furious reaction from Armenian parliament deputy chairman Eduard Sharmazanov, who called Aliyev a "totalitarian leader of a totalitarian state".
"Aliyev shows by his cynical proclamations that there are still supporters of fascism in the 21st century, and that this ideology flourishes thanks to leaders like him," Sharmazanov told AFP.
"His remarks recall the 1930s-1940s and (Nazi leader Adolf) Hitler," he added.
Aliyev succeeded his father Heydar as the leader of the former Soviet state in 2003 and has showcased the Caspian sea country as an important energy partner to the West despite human rights concerns.
He gave the 40-minute-long speech that inspired Tuesday's Twitter frenzy to his New Azerbaijan Party to mark the 20th anniversary of its establishment.
Reacting to the furore, senior Azerbaijan administration official Ali Gasanov did not attempt to soften the rhetoric, saying Aliyev had "laid out the facts and realities of modern day Armenia" in his speech.
"All of Armenia's resources are directed at supporting the separatist (Karabakh) regime on Azerbaijan's occupied territories," he said, calling Armenia a country with an agenda driven by outside forces.