By Sara Rajabova
The search for a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a commitment undertaken by Armenia and Azerbaijan upon their accession to the Council of Europe, says a declaration signed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Standing Committee during a meeting in Yerevan on May 31.
"In this context, we express our full support to the negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, on the basis of the 'Madrid principles' which establish a framework for resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," the declaration said.
The Assembly urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to seize the opportunity offered by their respective chairmanships of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, to promote reconciliation between these two member states and their populations, as well as to intensify the search, in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, for a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"Our Assembly is ready to do everything it can, through parliamentary diplomacy, to facilitate dialogue and establish a climate of trust between parliamentarians from both member states," the declaration reads.
Also, during a visit to Azerbaijan, PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon expressed an expectation that a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could be reached this year. He noted that in 2013, Azerbaijan and Armenia will chair the CoE Committee of Ministers, and it will create a good chance for both countries to find a solution to the conflict.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty between France and Germany, and such peace can be achieved between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Mignon said.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict emerged in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since a lengthy war in the early 1990s that displaced over one million Azerbaijanis, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions. The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenia's withdrawal from the Azerbaijani territory, but Armenia has not followed them to this day.
Russia, France and the U.S. have long been working to broker a solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict through the Minsk Group, but their efforts have been largely fruitless so far.
Peace talks are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles, also known as Basic Principles. The document envisions a return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control; determining the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh; a corridor linking Armenia to the region; and the right of all internally displaced persons to return home.