Azerbaijan supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through result-oriented and intensive negotiations, spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Leyla Abdullayeva said.
She was commenting on the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the upcoming meeting between President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
"There were proposals from the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in connection with the meeting of the President of Azerbaijan with the Prime Minister of Armenia. We would like to note that Azerbaijan is committed to the negotiation process and always ready for substantive negotiations. Azerbaijan supports the efforts of the co-chairs to resolve the conflict through result-oriented and intensive negotiations. As known, so far three meetings have been held between the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and there were four meetings between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
This statement by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group is a signal to Armenia and we welcome it. When receiving the Minsk Group co-chairs, President Ilham Aliyev brought to their attention our country’s position in this regard. Negotiations on resolving the conflict are conducted between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The format of the negotiations remains unchanged. Attempts to attract the separatist regime established in our occupied territories to negotiations and attempts to change the format are unacceptable. The statement of the co-chairs also includes the steps to be taken in connection with the settlement of the conflict," spokesperson said.
She added that one of the first steps envisages the liberation of the territories surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the return of internally displaced persons who were expelled from these territories by force.
"As for the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, this may be a subject of discussion not to the detriment of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, having repeatedly stated its position on this issue, said that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan should be determined by communities of this region, that’s to say, the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities. As known, the principle of self-determination of peoples should not violate the principle of the territorial integrity of states. And the Helsinki Final Act is taken as the basis in the statement of the co-chairs. Namely this document reflects "respect to the equal rights of peoples and their right to self-determination, acting at all times in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the relevant norms of international law, including those relating to territorial integrity of states".
As for the interested parties in the negotiation process to resolve the conflict, these are the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, and these communities are equal," Abdullayeva said.
The conflict between the 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 districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
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