By Sara Rajabova
A new meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents could be the beginning of a new chapter in two sides' negotiations, OSCE Chairman, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said in Yerevan on June 4.
During his latest visit to Armenia, Francois Hollande said France is ready to organize the meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents.
Burkhalter stressed the importance of the Minsk Group format saying: "I express my full respect for the format to solve this complicated problem. This is really difficult, and we do not underestimate its importance."
He noted: "There were losses, and we do not forget them". Burkhalter emphasized that the status quo is needs to be changed, adding this is important to head towards peace by taking small steps.
He also stressed the importance of finding a solution based on the Madrid Principles and international laws.
"To this end, we can provide mediation assistance, expert, political and financial support. We can do it during the presidency of Switzerland, as well as after that, if necessary," Burkhalter said.
He noted that the assistance is possible in the form of measures aimed at improving the atmosphere of trust, people-to-people contacts, and environmental issues.
"Promotion of peace is one of the objectives enshrined in the Constitution of Switzerland," Burkhalter concluded.
The precarious cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia was reached after a lengthy war that displaced over a million Azerbaijanis. It has been in place between the two South Caucasus countries since 1994.
Since the hostilities, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs dubbed the Madrid Principles. The negotiations have been largely fruitless so far.
The UN Security Council has adopted four resolutions on Armenia's withdrawal from the Azerbaijani territory, but they have not been enforced to this day.