Azerbaijan's president insists Armenia must return disputed region

"We don't intend to conduct negotiations for the sake of negotiations," Ilham Aliyev insisted.

Ethnic Armenian soldiers stand in a trench at their position near Nagorno-Karabakh's town of Martuni, April 8, 2016.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ethnic Armenian soldiers stand in a trench at their position near Nagorno-Karabakh's town of Martuni, April 8, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tensions at the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia are rising, as Azerbaijan's president pushes for a resolution to the decades-long conflict over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
"We don't need any partial resolution because that would be temporary," Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in a statement published on his website late on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg. "The issue needs to be fully resolved. All the occupied lands must be freed without exception."
Violence along the Armenian and Azerbaijani border could harm energy supplies from that region, Elin Suleymanov, the Azerbaijani ambassador to the US, warned this week. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline “provides Israel with 40% of its oil,” Suleymanov told The Jerusalem Post.
The two countries have been embroiled in a dispute over the region since the majority Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts were taken by Armenian forces in the early 1990s. A cease-fire brokered via American, Russian and French negotiators in 1994 brought fighting to a halt, but not before 25,000 people were killed and a million displaced.
However, a peace deal has never been reached. Fighting broke out at the border again recently, leading to the deaths of 16 combatants and one civilian, the largest outbreak of fighting since hundreds were killed in both sides in a 2016 war. 
Aliyev's comments follow a mass protest in Baku, to which thousands of Azerbaijanis flocked, defying coronavirus regulations, to demand a mass mobilization to fight Armenia and reclaim the region.
In the past, Azerbaijan has indicated it could support a step-wise process by which it would regain some of the surrounding districts in return for security guarantees before the matter of Nagorno-Karabakh is settled.
Armenia, which has a defense pact with Russia, insists that the self-determination of the region must be respected. It has previously resisted ceding territory until agreement is reached on the status of the unrecognized republic.
Azerbaijan won't "force us to make unreasonable and unilateral concessions" over the region, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told a meeting of Eurasian states on July 17. "There is no military solution to the conflict," he added.
Aliyev dismissed his foreign minister last week, criticizing his lack of progress in talks. "We don't intend to conduct negotiations for the sake of negotiations," he said. "There is a limit to the patience of the Azerbaijani people."
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.