Armenia, Azerbaijan dispute over Karabakh in Dushanbe

DUSHANBE, September 3 (Itar-Tass) — Armenia and Azerbaijan have disputed over Nagorno-Karabakh at the CIS jubilee summit in Dushanbe.

Speaking at a session of the Council of CIS Heads of State on Saturday, Azerbaijani Prime Minister Artur Rasizade said, “I’d not like to dampen the jubilee session. But the Armenian president’s speech about the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh forces me to do this.”

The Azerbaijani prime minister took the floor twice. He stressed that 20 years ago Nagorno-Karabakh had proclaimed independence. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh “exercised their right to self-determination and won independence”, the prime minister said.

At the same time, Rasizade said he is grateful to the OSCE Minsk Group and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for their efforts aimed at settling the conflict. He expressed hope that these actions “will be successful”.

Commenting on Sargsyan’s speech, the Azerbaijani prime minister said, “I believe that the audience knows the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. I hope that this speech was related to those who kept up on this issue.”

“By listening to the speech I thought that we might vote for the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh just at the session. Then for what is the Minsk Group and other initiatives?” Rasizade said.

In his words, the essence is that one party – the CIS member – “committed aggression and occupied 20 percent of the territory as a result of which one millions of people became refugees and displaced persons”.

The Azerbaijani prime minister noted, “One can talk about this tragedy many times. But none wants to do this for to the above-mentioned reasons.”

“I believe that Armenia took the non-constructive position on the settlement of this grave and protracted conflict,” he said, adding that Azerbaijan would continue its participation in the Minsk Group and “support other initiatives in order to achieve the fair solution of the problem in compliance with the norms of international law”.

In Deauville, Dmitry Medvedev, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama called on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan “to show political will and complete the work on the basic principle [of the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict] during the upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in June”.

The landlocked mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is the subject of an unresolved dispute between Azerbaijan, in which it lies, and its ethnic Armenian majority, backed by neighbouring Armenia.

In 1988, towards the end of Soviet rule, Azerbaijani troops and Armenian secessionists began a bloody war, which left the de facto independent state in the hands of ethnic Armenians when a truce was signed in 1994.

Negotiations have so far failed to produce a permanent peace agreement, and the dispute remains one of post-Soviet Europe’s “frozen conflicts.” With the break-up of the Soviet Union, in late 1991, Karabakh declared itself an independent republic, further escalating the conflict into a full-scale war. That de facto status has not been recognised elsewhere.

In a December 2006 referendum, declared illegitimate by Azerbaijan, the region approved a new constitution. Nonetheless, there have since been signs of life in the peace process, with occasional meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents. Significant progress was reported at talks between the leaders in May and November 2009, but progress then stalled, and tension began rising again as of 2010.

The OSCE Minsk Group was created in 1992 by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, now Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)) to encourage a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. The Minsk Group is headed by Russia, France and the United States.

An additional format had been created over the Karabakh settlement – Russia plays a mediating role. The presidents of three countries met in Astrakhan in October 2010.

They adopted a joint declaration after the meeting. “This is a special declaration on the enhancement of confidence-building measures,” Medvedev said, adding that the document envisioned “an exchange of prisoners of war and the return of the bodies.”

“Having confirmed the provisions of the joint Declaration signed in Moscow on November 2, 2008, the presidents stressed that the resolution of the conflict by political and diplomatic means requires further efforts to strengthen the ceasefire and military confidence-building measures,” the joint statement said.


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