By Rashid Shirinov
The October 16 meeting of the of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Geneva and their readiness to work constructively with the OSCE Minsk Group to achieve peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through negotiations is a good sign, the American co-chair of the Minsk Group Andrew Schofer told Armenian media on October 25.
The presidents met under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, and the foreign ministers of the two conflicting countries also attended the meeting. Soon after the meeting, the Minsk Group reported that the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to take measures to intensify the negotiation process and to take additional steps to reduce tensions along the frontline.
“As a co-chair country, the United States remains committed to the Minsk process and continues to call upon the sides to respect the ceasefire regime and to continue negotiations at the highest level, taking steps to fully implement the achievements reached earlier, including in Vienna and St. Petersburg,” Schofer said.
He also added that the Minsk Group co-chairs are currently working with the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia to clarify the date for the next meeting, which is expected to take place in the coming weeks.
Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a lengthy war that ended with signing of a fragile ceasefire in 1994. Since the war, Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh 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.
While the OSCE Minsk Group acted as the only mediator in resolution of the conflict, the occupation of the territory of the sovereign state with its internationally recognized boundaries has been left out of due attention of the international community for years. Today Armenia ignores four UN Security Council resolutions on immediate withdrawal from the occupied territory of Azerbaijan, thus keeping tension high in the region.
Azerbaijan has long ago stated it is ready to settle the conflict through direct negotiations with Armenia with mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. However, the Armenian side is always trying to make up reasons to avoid a constructive dialogue and preserve the unacceptable status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh..
Rashid Shirinov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @RashidShirinov
Follow us on Twitter @AzerNewsAz