Azerbaijan has warned Armenia that it is prepared for "large-scale military operations" and says that comments by its neighbor's new leadership about the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region are "unacceptable."
The warning was delivered by Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov at a meeting of Azerbaijani military officials on May 12, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The statement was issued three days after Armenia's new prime minister, Nikol Pashinian, visited Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in Azerbaijan under the control of ethnic Armenian forces.
In a speech to parliament before his election on May 8, Pashinian said that the "revolution" that swept him into power will lead to the "recognition of realizing the rights of Karabakh to self-determination."
The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry statement said Hasanov denounced "reckless statements made by various [Armenian] officials," including Pashinian, "following the change of leadership in that country."
"The defense minister warned Armenia's military-political leadership that such actions of the opponent are unacceptable, and the Azerbaijani army is fully prepared for large-scale military operations," the ministry said.
Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan during a 1988-94 conflict that killed some 30,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.
The international community still considers the region to be part of Azerbaijan, and no country has recognized its 1991 declaration of independence.
Three decades of diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the conflict have brought little progress.