BAKU (RFE/RL) — Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Friday accused U.S., Russian and French mediators of seeking to cement the Nagorno-Karabakh status quo and claimed that unnamed “world powers” support Armenia in the conflict.

“Armenia is dragging out the negotiation process, while the OSCE Minsk Group [co-headed by the U.S., Russia and France] is seeking to freeze, rather than settle, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” the APA news agency quoted him as saying at a meeting in Baku with a group of pro-government youth activists.

“The reason why the conflict remains unresolved is that Armenia is not alone,” he said, according to Interfax-Azerbaijan. “It has big sponsors and world powers supporting them.”

“For various reasons, big states effectively ensure the Armenian occupation,” he added without elaborating.

Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders have for years criticized the three mediating powers for not restoring Baku’s control over Karabakh and Armenian-controlled districts surrounding it. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry reacted angrily after the Minsk Group’s U.S., Russian and French co-chairs warned the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) last week against adopting two pro-Azerbaijani resolutions on Karabakh.

The PACE on Tuesday narrowly rejected the more important of those resolutions that called for “the establishment of full sovereignty of Azerbaijan in these territories” and said that the Minsk Group should “consider reviewing its approach to the resolution of the conflict” accordingly.

“I am absolutely certain that we will restore our territorial integrity,” Aliyev said on Friday. He cautioned, though, that “it will take time.”

Aliyev also reiterated his claims that modern-day Armenia was created on “historic Azerbaijani lands.” “Azerbaijanis must and will return to the territory of modern-day Armenia,” he said.

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