Baku calls to speed up work on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution - UPDATE

By Sara Rajabova

Baku has called for acceleration of work on resolving the long-standing Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which emerged in 1988 over Armenia’s territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor.

Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said that Azerbaijan calls for intensifying the work on the proposals on the negotiating table in the process of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in order to change the unacceptable status quo.

The sides to the conflict currently hold talks based on the renewed Madrid principles, which envisage return of occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control, ensure the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence, future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh and etc.

However, the peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group have been largely fruitless so far.

“The withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories could eliminate escalation, create favorable conditions for the settlement of the conflict through negotiations,” he told local media.

Mammadyarov expressed regret that Armenia has not used this opportunity for over 20 years.

Instead, Armenia’s military junta continues attempts to maintain the status quo, which is the continuation of Azerbaijani territories’ occupation.

“The presidents and foreign ministers of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries have repeatedly stated the inadmissibility of the status quo and it must be changed,” Mammadyarov said.

“The cases of ceasefire violation along the contact line between the troops and the Azerbaijani-Armenian border have never really stopped,” Mammadyarov said. “The war has been going on for over 20 years.”

He said the main reason of the current situation is the presence of the Armenian armed forces in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. “It is impossible to ensure peace without withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from there.”

For over two decades, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in conflict which emerged over Armenia's territorial claims against its South Caucasus neighbor. Since a war in the early 1990s, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions.

Conflicts in modern world lead to terrorism

Mammadyarov further said the conflicts existing in the modern world lead to terrorism activity.

"Terrorism is often closely connected to separatism,” he said. “Terrorism is a threat not to a particular region, but the whole world. Territories with armed conflicts are favorable places for terrorism."

Nowadays, there is almost no country in the world that remained untouched by the terroristic acts.

Azerbaijan also became the target of the terrorists from time to time. The country has long suffered from the Armenian terrorism.

Mammadyarov mentioned the Armenian ASALA terrorist organization as an example. It committed several terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan with the participation of the Armenian special services that resulted with killing of numerous people.

The minister expressed regret that some individuals relate the current terrorist attacks in various parts of the world to Islam, which is unacceptable.

“Islam is a religion of peace and stability,” Mammadyarov said.

He went on to say that as a victim of terror, Azerbaijan supports the efforts of the international community in the fight against terrorism and condemns it in all its forms.

Mammadyarov said Azerbaijan will continue contributing to the fight against terrorism.

Azerbaijan’s EEU membership not on agenda

Currently, Azerbaijan’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union is not on the agenda and no such proposal was received from the organization’s members, Mammadyarov said.

He noted that Azerbaijan’s participation in the activity of the organization, which envisages the economic and customs union with Armenia, which occupied the Azerbaijani lands and with which Azerbaijan does not have any relations for obvious reasons, is not real.

Mammadyarov said that in the current circumstances, Armenia has no common border with any country of the EEU.

“Regardless of the issues of Azerbaijan’s accession to the union, Armenia, at least, must have the effective transport corridors with the EEU member-states,” he said. “The main and optimal transport routes, connecting other countries of the union with Armenia, including rail routes, historically run through Azerbaijan. So, first of all, the issue of the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia, which is a threat to the region and an obstacle to the regional development, must be resolved."

Mammadyrov further added that Azerbaijan has bilateral intensive and mutually beneficial political, economic, trade and humanitarian relations with other countries of the EEU.

The minister stressed great prospects for expanding these ties.

The Eurasian Economic Union is an international integration union created on the basis of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space. It united Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.