President Ilham Aliyev has said Azerbaijan is committed to increasing its military power that now surpasses the budget of Armenia, a neighboring country that occupies part of Azerbaijani territory, ignoring international law.
Addressing servicemen on Thursday, President Aliyev said the country’s defense spending equals $2.150 billion in 2010, which is more than Armenia’s entire budget.
Aliyev noted that Azerbaijan’s military expenses have increased more than 13-fold in the past seven years.
“A goal was set forth several years ago for Azerbaijan’s military expenses to be above all of Armenia’s spending. This goal has already been fulfilled. We will continue increasing our military power and will purchase all the weaponry and ammunition and machinery for our military,” Aliyev said during military exercises over the 92nd anniversary of the Azerbaijan Armed Forces.
The president said that production of defense industry goods will increase in Azerbaijan.
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“21 military entities and plants are currently operating in Azerbaijan, and 30 production sites have been set up. We have to make sure that all the machinery, weaponry and ammunition required for the Armed Forces are produced in Azerbaijan. We will further step up our work in that direction.”
The commander-in-chief said Azerbaijan’s paramount task was liberating its territories from Armenian occupation. He pointed out that talks on settling the Upper (Nagorno) Garabagh conflict have been ongoing for many years, but the issue remains unresolved to this day, though there are standing international decisions supporting Baku’s fair cause. “We can say that all of the world’s organizations, leading organizations have adopted decisions on the issue. But the invading country is ignoring these decisions, these resolutions.”
Aliyev said that, considering this, new tasks are now facing Azerbaijan.
“It’s about either continuing negotiations – we are ready for this, but on the condition that these negotiations produce results – or choosing a different way. We have to be prepared for any option, and the statements I have repeatedly made in recent years show this once again. We have never ruled out the possibility of resolving the issue by military means. This is notwithstanding the fact that we support peace talks and that peace talks have been underway for nearly 20 years. Azerbaijan is displaying a very constructive position in these negotiations. But there is no result. How long will the Azerbaijani people have to wait? How long will we have to wait for justice to be served? The Azerbaijani people’s patience is not endless.”
Aliyev emphasized that 1 million Azerbaijani citizens’ basic rights have been violated as a result of the Armenian aggression, calling on Azerbaijan’s military to be ready for the commander-in-chief’s order any time. He said, further: “We have to and are stepping up our both political and diplomatic efforts. We have strengthened our economic potential to a great extent. Today, there is a huge divide between Armenia and Azerbaijan in terms of economic potential. And this divide will increasingly deepen. This is because we have extensive opportunities. Armenia, though, is merely living at the expense of assistance from foreign circles, is unable to survive at its own expense, and this difference will increasingly grow further.”
Armenia’s troops have been occupying over 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory since the lengthy war fought in the 1990s, despite four UN resolutions on unconditional pullout of its armed forces and condemnation by a number of other international groups. The ceasefire accord was signed in 1994, but the OSCE-brokered peace talks have been largely fruitless so far.