BAKU — Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has replaced the long-time Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov with Ceyhun Bayramov amid an escalation of the conflict with neighboring Armenia.

Aliyev’s July 16 decision to sack Mammadyarov and appoint Bayramov to the post came a day after he harshly criticized Mammadyarov at a government session for his “passive” approach in dealing with deadly military clashes that erupted along the Azerbaijani-Armenian border on July 12.

“I think that our diplomatic activities could be more effective. I have repeatedly said that our diplomacy should be offensive, not passive, not defensive. Diplomacy must not be afraid to speak out,” Aliyev said during the session.

Mammadyarov had served as the oil-rich South Caucasus nation’s top diplomat since April 2004.

Bayramov served as Azerbaijan’s education minister before his July 16 appointment.

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