YEREVAN (Combined Sources) –Armenia on Tuesday dismissed as “self-deception” Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s latest offer to grant Nagorno-Karabakh the status of an autonomous region in Azerbaijan.

“We will never agree to grant Nagorno-Karabakh independence,” Aliyev told Russian state television in an interview aired earlier in the day.

“But there can be a compromise on local self-government in Nagorno-Karabakh in the future; if we reach agreement it could be an autonomous republic,” he said. “We cannot make more concessions.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry was quick to scoff at Aliyev’s remarks. “Azerbaijan’s leadership had better stop engaging in self-deception and misleading the Azerbaijani society,” the ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, said in written comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

“The Azerbaijani leader already publicly acknowledged a week ago the real content of [Karabakh peace] negotiations when he said that Baku is being urged to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence,” added Balayan.

Spokesman for the NKR President David Babayan called Aliyev’s statement absurd and cannot be taken seriously

“This is a provocative statement. Autonomy means return to the past. How can Artsakh refuse from independence and become a colony, a concentration camp within Azerbaijan?” the Spokesman said. He deemed the statements “ridiculous” and added that “it’s not a matter of discussion.”

David Babayan said “the statement means Azerbaijan is not ready for a comprehensive settlement. He added that Azerbaijan should first think about provision of autonomy to other nations living on its territory – Talyshs, Lezgins and others. “There is no alternative to provision of self-governance to those peoples, because if the pressures continue, new conflicts could emerge,” David Babyan noted.

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