Baku. Malahat Najafova – APA. The occupied territories of Azerbaijan must be returned to Azerbaijan’s control, the US co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick said at a press conference in Baku Oct. 22.
He noted that the discussions in Baku will focus on the elements of the negotiations on the conflict’s settlement which include the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the return of refugees and IDPs to their native lands and deployment of peacekeepers in the territory.
“The question of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status has been put forward by President Ilham Aliyev, and we welcome it,” said Warlick, stressing the importance of regular meetings between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents.
“The elements mentioned should be discussed as a package in order to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peacefully,” he said.
The co-chairs have repeatedly stated that the status quo in the conflict is not sustainable, added Warlick.
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.