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. Azerbaijan announces major military spending boost
ASTARA, Azerbaijan (AFP) Nov 09, 2004
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Tuesday that defense spending in Azerbaijan would grow by nearly one third in 2005, after rival Armenia unveiled plans to significantly boost its own military budget.

"Our parliament is discussing next year's budget, where spending will grow by 25 to 30 percent, and this includes military spending," Aliyev told reporters.

Aliyev's comments followed a proposal made Monday by Armenia's parliament to raise defense spending by 20 percent to 99 million dollars in 2005.

Aliyev gave no dollar figure for defense spending in Azerbaijan, but a finance ministry source said that military spending in 2004 amounted to just under 150 million dollars.

Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a border war, as the Soviet Union broke up, that killed 35,000 people and displaced about one million civilians.

It ended with an uneasy ceasefire in 1994, with Armenian forces in control of the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which under international law is a part of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan still claims the territory and the two countries remain locked in a state of war, with gunfire between the two sides exchanged periodically.

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