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Azerbaijan renews war threats over Nagorny Karabakh

RIA Novosti


BAKU, February 25 (RIA Novosti) - Azerbaijan renewed threats of military action on Thursday to retake disputed Nagorny Karabakh over a lack of progress at talks with Armenia.

"For 15 years diplomats have been unable to find any solid solutions to the conflict," Defense Minister Safar Abiyev said at a meeting with French Ambassador Gabriel Keller.

"Azerbaijan cannot wait for another 15 years. It is time to use military rhetoric, this threat is becoming more imminent. If occupying Armenia does not free our lands, a large conflict will be inevitable in the South Caucasus," Abiyev said, as quoted by the Defense Ministry.

A fragile ceasefire has been in place in the region since a brutal war between the two countries over the disputed enclave inside Azerbaijan with a predominantly ethnic Armenian population in the 1990s.

The mediators in the dispute - the United States, Russia and France - reported some important progress as the Azerbaijani and Armenia leaders met in Munich late last year, but tensions remain high.

Both ex-Soviet Caucasus states have continued to trade allegations of ceasefire violations. Azerbaijan, which has never ruled out military action to regain the territory and has spent billions on dollars on building up its military, has been using stronger rhetoric lately.

The Munich meeting was the first since Azerbaijan's fellow Muslim ally Turkey and Armenia agreed to restore diplomatic ties.

Some 30,000 people died in the conflict, which erupted after the mountainous region declared independence in 1991. Nagorny Karabakh has been under Armenian control since a Russian-brokered ceasefire in 1994.

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