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News efforts needed to settle Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

25 July 2014 15:47 (UTC+04:00)
News efforts needed to settle Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

By Sara Rajabova

The U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan said the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict needs renewed efforts to be resolved once and for all.

"Peace would bring substantial benefits to people across the region and ensure Azerbaijan's prosperity into the future," Richard Morningstar said at a farewell event on July, 24.

Morningstarsaid the United States would continue to work to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which emerged in 1988 over Armenia's territorial claims against Azerbaijan.

"Obviously we and Azerbaijan sometimes look at these issues differently. But as with any partner, continued dialogue is important. We can have disagreements, but we need to keep talking," Morningstar, who completes his diplomatic mission by the end of summer 2014, said.

He added that the U.S. needs to stand by Azerbaijan as it strives to maintain its sovereignty and independence.

Morningstar further expressed regret about any kind of hostilities, casualties and tragedies on the Armenia-Azerbaijan contact line.

He made the remark commenting on the recent incident that resulted in taking hostage of three Azerbaijanis by Armenian armed forces in occupied Kalbajar region.

Earlier, Armenian media reported that the Armenian forces, during an operation in the occupied Kalbajar region's Shaplar village, killed an Azerbaijani, Hasan Hasanov and detained two other Azerbaijanis - Shahbaz Guliyev and Dilgam Asgarov. Armenia violated the international legal norms by taking hostage the Azerbaijani civilians as they didn't violate any border law between Armenia and Azerbaijan. They were on their own native Kalbajar region.

The families of the Azerbaijanis have officially appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Currently, the ICRC is in talks with the parties on this matter.

"I know that co-chairs are very concerned about the conflict along the line of contact and that just again goes to show how this terrible conflict must be resolved," Morningstar said.

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's four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal have not been enforced to this day.

Long-standing efforts by U.S, Russian and French mediators have been largely fruitless so far.

New envoy

While commenting on the date of arrival of a new U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan, Morningstar expressed hope about the rapid appointment of the new ambassador.

"You know the Congress has been very slow on all kinds of conformations," he added. "But it has nothing whatsoever to do with Robert Cekuta or with Azerbaijan."

Recently, U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Robert F. Cekuta as the candidate to the post of a new ambassador to Azerbaijan.

"I will suggest the new ambassador to stick to the principles that we have had for the last few years and recognize how important our relationship is. There are many parts of that relationship all of which have to pay attention to," Morningstar said.

He further said Azerbaijan has proved its sovereignty and independence in many aspects.

Morningstar went on to note that Azerbaijan remained faithful to laying Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, despite pressure from the outside.

"This pipeline has become the cornerstone of Azerbaijan's economy. The United States supported the pipeline, because this project has helped to maintain the sovereignty and independence of Azerbaijan and neighboring Georgia," he said.

Morningstar said Azerbaijan's loyalty to the Southern Gas Corridor project is a courageous step.

"I hope that our bilateral economic cooperation will develop not only in the energy sector but also in other spheres. I hope that bilateral trade and investment will increase even more," Morningstar said.

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