By Rashid Shirinov
The European Union does not exclude the possibility of cooperation with the Azerbaijan-Armenia Platform for Peace, initiated by Azerbaijan, EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus Herbert Salber, who has completed his visit to Azerbaijan, told Trend on April 21.
He said that the Azerbaijan-Armenia Peace Platform is at the very beginning of its activities.
“I met yesterday one of the promoters of the platform. I am open for contacts. I will try to understand what this platform is about,” Salber noted.
The Armenia-Azerbaijan Platform for Peace was founded in December 2016 in Baku by a group of Azerbaijani and Armenian public figures and peacekeepers. It was created to bring together representatives of civil society of the two countries for creating dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the sides to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
During his Baku visit, Salber met with the Azerbaijani president, deputy foreign minister, and other representatives of the country’s government and tried to see where the process of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is now.
“I believe that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be solved in a peaceful way, without military means what is very important,” he said.
Salber reminded that the EU is not directly involved as the mediator to the Nagorno-Karabakh resolution process: “We recognize that this is the prerogative of the OSCE Minsk Group.”
“When I hear criticism against the OSCE Minsk Group’s activity, I have to say one thing, the peace deal has to be made between the sides of the conflict,” said Salber, noting that the international community can only assist and make proposals, but it cannot somehow push two sides into an agreement.
He added that a political settlement is possible if the ceasefire is respected.
The conflict between two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding regions. More than 20,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and over 1 million were displaced as a result of the large-scale hostilities. The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations.
Armenia still controls fifth part of Azerbaijan's territory and rejects implementing four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding districts.
As for the EU-Azerbaijan relations, Salber stressed that the relations are undoubtedly at a high level, especially after EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini’s visit to Azerbaijan in early 2017 and the agreements on concluding new agreements that are being prepared in Brussels.
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
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