STEPANAKERT — The international community should react to Ilham Aliyev’s statements that residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are citizens of Azerbaijan, Artsakh Foreign Minister David Babayan said in an interview.

“What is that? A call for deportation of Armenians or an omen? I repeat, we are ready to negotiate with Azerbaijan as equals, of course we understand that the situation is difficult now and Azerbaijan is trying to seize the opportunity, but that does not mean that we should allow it. We should defend our rights and dignity with our teeth, because if there is no Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), there will be no Armenia,” Babayan told the news.am.

He recalled that official Stepanakert has said for years that it is ready to negotiate with Baku, but the question is the format.

“And this format is accepted at the international level, I mean the OSCE Minsk Group, within its framework Artsakh was recognized as both a negotiating party and a party to the conflict. Therefore, we have never been against negotiations with Baku, but they should be held in an internationally recognized format,” Babayan stressed.

Babayan also touched on Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. “Artsakh cannot be against improvement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, but as a result Artsakh cannot be recognized as part of Azerbaijan,” he said.

He stressed that any status of Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan is unacceptable. “Artsakh does not see itself as part of Azerbaijan. This is our red line, we have to be principled, especially in this difficult situation,” Babayan said.

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