(AFP) – Azerbaijan can reconquer the contested Nagorno Karabakh region at any time because of its expanded military budget, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliev said on Monday.
“This year defense spending has grown by 76 percent, we will create a powerful army and will be able to liberate our lands at any time,” Aliev said during a visit to Quba, a city in northern Azerbaijan.
Aliev acknowledged that negotiations with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh chaired by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were important, but complained that they have “not brought results.”
Azerbaijan will spend $300 million on its armed forces in 2005, Aliev said earlier. The oil-producing nation increased defense spending earlier this year after a windfall in the national budget due to higher-than-expected oil prices. Oil revenues are expected to further increase after a massive U.S.-backed oil pipeline starts pumping later this year.
The four-billion-dollar Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline could generate as much as 160 billion dollars (133 billion eurso) in oil revenues to Azerbaijan over the next 30 years, according to Britain’s BP which heads the consortium running the pipeline.