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4 Dec, 2008 09:57

OSCE calls for resolution to Karabakh conflict

Military action is not the solution to the troubles in the disputed Karabakh region in the South Caucasus, according to Foreign Ministers of the OSCE Minsk Group. They discussed the need for a peaceful resolution to the long frozen conflict between Armeni

“The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains a serious source of instability. The instable ceasefire regime cannot replace a lasting peace,” said Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov at the OSCE meeting in Finland.

He added that the signed declaration “creates a good base for the settlement of the conflict”.

Mamedyarov's statement was hailed as a positive sign in the process. Novruz Mamedov, head of the department of international relations for the Azerbaijani president, told Baku television channel ANC that the “resolution of the problem is moving to a different level”.

The statements come just as the Minsk grouped stressed the need for further cooperation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“We call for both sides to reaffirm their devotion to a peace settlement,” the group said.

At the meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that basic principles of a peace treaty regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia must be formed.

“We urge the parties to make efforts jointly with the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group to achieve an agreement within months on the basic principles of the settlement, and then, on that basis, to pass over to drafting a comprehensive peace agreement,” Lavrov said.

The two countries came together last month in Moscow and agreed to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Lavrov reminded both sides about the agreement they signed in November. “The declaration signed in Moscow opened a new promising step in the restoration of peace in the region,” he said.

At the OSCE meeting, Armenian Foreign Minister Edvard Nalbandyan also expressed his support for cooperation but remained cautious about the role of the signed document.

“The session in Moscow was very positive. For the first time we signed a concrete document,” said Nalbandyan. “The declaration is not a peaceful agreement but it is a treaty on key principles.”

Nargorno-Karabakh, a region in the South Caucasus, is technically part of Azerbaijan. In 1988, the area voted to join with the Armenian Soviet Republic. This action set off a conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. After violence and conflict continued for several years, Armenians in the region approved through a referendum the creation of an independent state.

The referendum was rejected by Azerbaijan and conflict escalated.

The fall of the Soviet Union led to a power vacuum causing full-scale war to erupt. By 1994, thousands had been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced as a result. With Russia’s help, an un-official cease-fire was reached in May 1994.

However, random spells of violence continued to plague the region causing numerous deaths every year on both sides.

Today the region is under joint military control by Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh military forces. Armenia remains steadfast in its commitment to bringing independence to the region while Azerbaijan claims its territorial integrity must be respected.

The Minsk Group was formed by the OSCE and includes the US, Russia and France. Its purpose is to encourage and negotiate a complete and peaceful resolution between Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding Karabakh.

The efforts culminated on 2 November when the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and the President of Armenia, Serzh Sarkisyan, signed a peace declaration at a meeting in Moscow arranged by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev.

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