Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces are ready to clear Nagorno-Karabakh of its "Armenian occupiers" anytime, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Ali Gasanov said on Friday.
“The head of state has repeatedly stated that Azerbaijan will never put up with the injustice. This statement holds true to date,” he said.
Commenting on the recent Armenian “provocation” on the frontline, which led to the death of five Azerbaijani servicemen, Gasanov said it was evidently aimed against U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the region, also dropping a vague hint at Russia.
“Presumably, some states patronizing Armenia were unhappy with the U.S. state secretary’s visit, and they organized that incident,” Gasanov said.
Clinton visited Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia between June 4 and 6.
On Thursday, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said Armenia did not want an escalation of tensions with Azerbaijan but promised to respond to any attacks on its citizens, borders and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Five Azerbaijani soldiers were killed on Tuesday at the contact line between the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan, amid escalating Armenian-Azerbaijani tension, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said.
An Azerbaijani commando group attempted to penetrate Army positions in Karabakh in the early hours of Wednesday but was pushed back, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s Army press and propaganda department said.
Clinton condemned the ongoing border clashes, saying that "the use of force will not resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan erupted in the late 1980s, when Nagorno- Karabakh, a breakaway region on Azerbaijani territory with a predominantly ethnic Armenian population, claimed independence from Azerbaijan. The war is estimated to have left more than 30,000 people dead on both sides between 1988 and 1994. The region has since remained under Armenian control.
Russia has been mediating peace talks for nearly two decades.
The Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers have agreed to hold talks over Nagorny Karabakh on June 18 in Paris, following a call from the OCSE Minsk Group mediating the conflict.