BAKU — Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Friday condemned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for saying that both he and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian are not prepared for a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Aliyev also said that Baku is facing international pressure to come to terms with Karabakh’s de facto independence.

Kerry briefly mentioned the Karabakh issue when he spoke at a forum on international security in Washington last week. “There are some frozen conflicts in the world today: Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan-Armenia, where you can’t quite see that [decisive progress] right now because the leaders aren’t ready, because the tensions are there,” he said.

Aliyev angrily denounced Kerry’s remarks as pro-Armenian during a cabinet meeting in Baku. “To accuse Azerbaijan of being unwilling to settle the conflict is dishonest, to say the least,” he charged, according to the APA news agency. Blaming both conflicting parties for the stalemate amounts to “showing overt support for Armenia’s policy of occupation,” he said.

“We do not accept these statements,” Aliyev went on. “We believe that these statements must be corrected at the highest level as soon as possible. Or else, the [U.S.] mediating mission could be called into question.”

“This thesis was voiced officially. But behind the closed doors conversations are taking place, and pressure is exerted on Azerbaijan so that it agrees to Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence,” he revealed without elaborating.

Novruz Mammadov, deputy head of Azerbaijani presidential administration, pointed out that the relevant bodies of the US should provide an explanation on Kerry’s statements, adding that Armenia tries to protract the conflict’s settlement and such statements give ground to this.

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