By Akbar Mammadov
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has said that return of Azerbaijan’s occupied territories have always been part of Nagorno-Karabakh peace negotiations with Armenia.
Mammadyarov made the remarks in a presser on April 28, while commenting on his Armenian counterpart’s recent statement that Yerevan will not liberate occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh and that it is not involved in the phased resolution of the conflict.
“The details of the negotiations are not revealed. However, to this date, the general format of the negotiations have been stated by the co-chairs as well as the leaders of the co-chairing countries on many occasions. All these [meetings and statements] reflect the elements of a step-by-step settlement of the conflict, meaning that the gradual elimination of the consequences of the conflict, the initial liberation of the occupied territories around Nagorno-Karabakh, the return of Azerbaijanis expelled from these territories, the opening of communications between Azerbaijan and Armenia, ensuring conditions for the two communities of the Karabakh region to cohabitate for some time, and consideration of the status of the region within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan in the next stages are envisaged", the minister noted.
He further said that “Armenia that claims that these elements have not been discussed and that there is no document on the table, had better prepare its population for peace just like it has agreed in front of the international community, instead of deceiving its people.”
Commenting on the April 21 meeting with his Armenian counterpart, the minister said: "The only difference between the April 21 meeting and the previous talks on the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the remote organization of the meeting. The meeting continued in the same format and on the same agenda. The Azerbaijani side supports the substantive and result-oriented negotiations on the settlement of the conflict, and we have always stated that as long as the possibility of a peaceful settlement of the conflict is considered, we will use it".
"According to the logic of the Armenian side, the ministers of the two countries and the co-chairs representing the three permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as the ministers of the co-chairing countries participating in this process have nothing to do and come to the meetings for tea,” he went on saying.
Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov noted that prior to the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his position on a step-by-step solution to the conflict, which has been a topic of discussion for many years and is clearly stated in the statements of the co-chairs.
"In response, the Armenian Foreign Minister said that the return of lands was not considered, as well as touched upon issues related to security and the principle of self-determination of peoples. It is known that this statement was made to reassure the local community. Otherwise, Mnatsakanyan would not have continued the talks in a video conference a few hours after the statement", Mammadyarov said.
Furthermore, the minister said that Azerbaijan has shown that it is united in words and actions, has not changed its position – which is to restore the rights of the IDPs and to liberate its internationally recognized regions. By comparison, the occupying country has been making completely unjustified statement aiming to deceive the international community.
"The truth is unchangeable. Talking pretentiously about the security while not complying by any law or norms of the international community and violating people’s fundamental rights is against international law and the fundamental rights of the people", the minister said.
Commenting on Armenian counterpart’s security concerns over the return of territories, Mammadyarov said that it is impossible to talk about security and human rights without eliminating the factor of occupation and restoring the fundamental rights of hundreds of thousands of people.
“If we want peace, security, normal neighborly relations and, finally, progress, the grave consequences of the conflict I have mentioned must be eliminated and states must respect each other's territorial integrity within their internationally recognized borders. There is no other formula for peace", the minister concluded.
Akbar Mammadov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AkbarMammadov97
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