Armenia says Aliyev win best hope for Karabakh conflict
YEREVAN - Agence France-Presse
A file photo taken on July 17, 2009 shows Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (R) shaking hands with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev in Moscow. AFP photoArmenia's president has said a win for strongman incumbent Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan's upcoming presidential election offers the best hope of resolving a deadlock over the disputed Nagorny Karabakh region The two sides are locked in a bitter decades-long feud over the fate of Nagorny Karabakh.
Armenia-backed separatists seized the territory from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s that left some 30,000 dead, and no final peace deal has been signed since a 1994 ceasefire despite ongoing talks.
"A democratic Azerbaijan is definitely preferable for us as a neighbour, especially as a partner in talks," President Serzh Sarkisian said in a statement released late Saturday. "I would not say just now that the negotiating process is active, nevertheless we have traversed quite a long road, and if after talks Aliyev is able to demonstrating some will and rise above his mania of Armenia-phobia, I think this is the most acceptable and preferable option for us." Flush with petrodollars, oil-rich Azerbaijan has threatened to take back the disputed region by force if negotiations do not yield results, while Armenia has vowed massive retaliation against any military action.
Aliyev, who took over when his father died in 2003, is the overwhelming favourite to win presidential polls in October.
Human rights activists have accused him of stepping up a campaign to stifle opposition and strangle dissent in the run-up to the poll.