The OSCE Minsk Group (MG) co-chairing countries should take the necessary measures to ensure Armenia’s constructive participation in the negotiations on the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Hikmat Hajiyev, spokesman for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, told APA on Friday.
The December 8 statement by the MG co-chairs reaffirms that the current situation is unacceptable and dangerous, and at any time can lead to an escalation, he noted.
The statement also envisages the steps that must be taken for a gradual settlement of the conflict, the first of which is the liberation of districts adjacent to Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and ensuring the return of IDPs to their native lands, added Hajiyev.
According to him, Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that the unlawful presence of Armenian armed forces in the occupied Azerbaijani territories remains the main cause of tension in the conflict zone and is a major obstacle to a political solution.
“The military escalation on the contact line of troops in early April this year, which was caused by the instigation and provocation of the Armenian military that shelled Azerbaijan’s civilian population and state-owned facilities along the frontline, once again demonstrated the inadmissibility of the status quo,” Hajiyev said, adding that the international community, particularly the OSCE MG co-chairing countries have repeatedly stated the inadmissibility and non-sustainability of the status quo.
He pointed out that the first step to change the status quo is the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories.
Baku appreciates the substantive high-level talks in Vienna, especially in St. Petersburg, as a positive step in the right direction, noted the ministry spokesman.
“As mentioned in the co-chairs’ statement, Azerbaijan now is in favor of resolving the conflict and restoring peace in the region through substantive negotiations on the basis of the working proposals on the agenda,” said Hajiyev. “However, Armenia, in order to avoid substantive negotiations, puts forward the conditions and reasons, avoids meetings, undermines the agreements reached in Vienna and St. Petersburg, escalates the situation on the frontline and pursues a police of disrupting the peace process.”
Armenia’s attempts to reinforce its military presence in the occupied Azerbaijani territories and to illegally change the demographic, cultural and physical nature of these areas reveal the true attempts of the country, added Hajiyev.
Azerbaijan urges the OSCE MG co-chairs to give an adequate response to these actions and take the necessary measures to ensure Armenia’s constructive participation in the negotiations, he concluded.
On December 8, the heads of delegation of the OSCE MG co-chairing countries – Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry, and Foreign Minister of France Jean-Marc Ayrault – made a joint statement, reaffirming their commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"In light of the dramatic escalation in violence along the line of contact in April, we express concern over continuing armed incidents, including reports on the use of heavy weapons, and strongly condemn the use of force or the threat of use of force", said the statement.
The co-chairing countries stressed their readiness to host a meeting of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan when they are ready.
"Continuous and direct dialogue between the presidents, conducted under the auspices of the co-chairs, remains an essential element in building confidence and moving the peace process forward", said the statement.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict entered its modern phase when the Armenian SRR made territorial claims against the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988.
A fierce war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. As a result of the war, Armenian armed forces occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory which includes Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts (Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan), and over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced people.
The military operations finally came to an end when Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in Bishkek in 1994.
Dealing with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the OSCE Minsk Group, which was created after the meeting of the CSCE (OSCE after the Budapest summit held in Dec.1994) Ministerial Council in Helsinki on 24 March 1992. The Group’s members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belarus, Finland and Sweden.
Besides, the OSCE Minsk Group has a co-chairmanship institution, comprised of Russian, the US and French co-chairs, which began operating in 1996.
Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council, which were passed in short intervals in 1993, and other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, PACE, OSCE, OIC, and other organizations require Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh.