By Abdul Kerimkhanov
Baku continued its diplomatic efforts to resolve the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the sovereignty, territorial integrity and international borders of Azerbaijan in 2018, Milli.az reported.
Negotiations on the conflict settlement for many years have not yielded any results, but conversations within the framework of the Dushanbe and St. Petersburg Summit of the CIS countries, led by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, create optimism in terms of progress in the negotiation process.
Although Pashinyan tried to put the "leadership" of the so-called regime in occupied Karabakh on the negotiating table, Azerbaijan was very decisive to keep the format of the negotiations unchanged.
The Azerbaijani Armed Forces, which ranks among the world's 50 most powerful armies, carried out successful operations in the battlefield in 2018. More than 11,000 hectares of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, including Gunnut village of Sharur region, were liberated from Armenia, favorable heights were seized along the state border and Yerevan-Gorus-Lachin road was taken into custody in May 2018.
This successful operation was a logical continuation of Azerbaijani Army’s victory in 2016. In April fights, army of Azerbaijan carried out a counter-attack operation in response to the Armenian provocation, liberated some of the territories of Fuzuli, Jabrayil and Aghdere regions, totaling more than 2,000 hectares of land, and security in the village of Jojuq Marjanli with the liberation of the Leletepe highway. As soon as the village of Jojuq Marjanli was restored, more than 150 houses were built and internally displaced persons returned to their native homes.
The end of the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan in 2018 was the main task of the country’s diplomacy and remains a priority task in 2019.
The talks between the Azerbaijani President and the Armenian Prime Minister were held within the framework of the CIS summit in Dushanbe and Saint-Petersburg and three meetings were held between the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister and his Armenian counterpart in the past six months.
Joint Declaration of Heads of Delegation of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, Joint Statement of Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers were adopted during the OSCE Ministerial Meeting on December 6, 2018. The statement notes the continuation of negotiations on a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict. It also stresses the call for concrete steps for the implementation of the agreement reached at Dushanbe at the level of two countries’ heads and the preparation of both countries’ population for peace.
Another important point is that it reflected a need of intensifying negotiations for a fair conflict solution at the level of Azerbaijani and Armenian heads. This approach is fully supported by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.
Azerbaijan hopes that the 2019 year will be important for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Country’s principled position remains unchanged, and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be ensured unconditionally, occupying forces must withdrew from occupied Azerbaijani lands, as international law requires.
Azerbaijan stands by to boost efforts in the foreign policy in this direction this year on the basis of bilateral contacts. Both historical and legal grounds support the country’s position.
The processes taking place in the region strengthen Azerbaijan's regional authority and the situation in the region is changing in Azerbaijan’s advantage.
All these factors suggest that certain steps will be taken for the solutiom of the conflict in 2019. Still, it is too premature to make any statement, but what is clear Azerbaijan will not abandon its principal position and restore territorial integrity in any way is the country’s sovereign right. Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied lands around it are Azerbaijani historical lands, both today and tomorrow.
Thus, in the current year, Azerbaijan will do its best to put an end to the aggression of Armenia, to liberate lands from occupation, and to return internally displaced persons to their homelands.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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