Azerbaijan hopes int'l community, OSCE will be more active in resolving Karabakh conflict

3 June 2014 16:10 (UTC+04:00)

By Aynur Jafarova

Swiss President Didier Burkhalter paid an official visit to Azerbaijan on June 2.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev officially welcomed his Swiss counterpart.

Following the official welcoming ceremony, President Aliyev held a one-on-one meeting with President Burkhalter

The sides expressed their satisfaction with the successful development of bilateral relations in the political, economic and other fields.

The sides also stressed the availability of good opportunities for the expansion of economic cooperation and mutual investment between the two countries.

After the one-on-one meeting, President Aliyev and President Burkhalter met in an expanded format with the participation of two sides' delegations.

President Aliyev said the sides have discussed the good prospects for the expansion of bilateral relations, in particular cooperation in the areas of mutual investment and joint ventures, "including the already started cooperation in the energy sector which promises to be very effective."

He expressed confidence that Burkhalter's visit to the region will be very fruitful and will contribute to the development of positive trends in the region, especially in terms of conflict settlement, and will promote the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

President Burkhalter, in turn, expressed confidence that the two countries enjoy the current broad potential for private investment.

"Swiss companies are interested in investing in your country," he said.

After the meeting in an expanded format, President Aliyev and President Burkhalter made statements for the press.

In his remarks the Azerbaijani President said the political ties between the two countries are developing successfully.

"Our economic relations are also developing fast," he said. "Switzerland invests in the development of industry, in particular in the construction sector, while Azerbaijan invests in the energy sector. I am confident that in the coming years we will be able to consider additional forms of joint investment in our countries, perhaps in the region, i.e. in third countries."

Touching on the energy security President Aliyev noted Azerbaijan is present in the energy market of Switzerland and has a share there.

"The developments occurring in the area of gas transportation lately will strengthen our bilateral relations. As you know, at the end of last year we signed such ambitious projects as Shah Deniz-2, Trans-Anatolian and Trans-Adriatic pipelines. Together they are the largest infrastructure project in Europe. This will allow Azerbaijan the opportunity to fully realize its energy resources in different markets," he added.

President Aliyev also spoke about the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

"At the same time, we have discussed regional security issues, because Switzerland is the country chairing the OSCE," he said.

"Certainly, in the course of our discussions today we focused on the most important issue for regional security - the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I informed Mr. President about the current state, prospects of the negotiations and the history of the conflict. Nagorno-Karabakh is a historical and integral part of Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized by the international community as an integral part of Azerbaijan and will remain an integral part of Azerbaijan. From a historical point of view, Nagorno-Karabakh has always been the territory of Azerbaijan. From a legal point of view this is our territory, and the UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions demanding an unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the occupied territories. The occupation has continued for more than 20 years. Not only Nagorno-Karabakh but also seven of our regions located around Nagorno-Karabakh are occupied by Armenia," he stressed.

The Azerbaijani president went on to note that twenty percent of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan has been occupied.

"Our people have been exposed to a policy of ethnic cleansing pursued by Armenia. This applies to the Khojaly genocide, which resulted in the killing of more than 600 people, including more than 100 women and 60 children. It is a war crime committed by the Armenian state. The OSCE has adopted resolutions and decisions related to the settlement of the conflict. The OSCE has sent two fact-finding and evaluation missions to the occupied territories. All of their reports clearly indicate that everything is destroyed: our historical buildings, mosques, monuments, graves of our ancestors are all destroyed. Therefore, it is necessary to find a solution to the conflict as soon as possible. This is the biggest threat to regional security. To do this, it is necessary to comply with international law, UN Security Council resolutions, decisions of the OSCE and other international organizations.

"Unfortunately, Armenia ignores these resolutions and continues the policy of artificially delaying the negotiating process. They do not want a settlement to the conflict and peace and are trying to keep the situation as it is. They are trying to maintain the status quo although the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries have repeatedly spoken about the unacceptability of the status quo. To change the status quo, Armenia must start the process of withdrawing its troops," he said.

President Aliyev expressed hope that the international community and the OSCE will be more active in this regard so that international law and historical justice are restored and Azerbaijan could start the process of reconstruction after the liberation of occupied territories.

In his speech President Burkhalter said the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict requires time.

"We are confident that we should move step by step towards peace," he said. "First, we call for more dialogue. So far extensive discussions have been held. There was a need for a new meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia. It was proposed to hold this meeting in Paris, we also supported this idea. We call for holding this meeting in the near future. This meeting should become a starting point of a new phase of negotiations. On the other hand, it can become a process of structured negotiations that will lead to a peace agreement. And this negotiating process should be based on the Madrid principles."

"The second main issue that we are calling for is strengthening the ceasefire regime. First of all, it is a mechanism of investigating the incidents, which was agreed by all parties in the past, but never implemented," he added.

As part of the visit to Baku, President Burkhalter held meetings with Speaker of the Azerbaijani Parliament Ogtay Asadov and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.

Also, President Burkhalter met a group of Azerbaijani IDPs.