Baku, Azerbaijan, May 12
By Seymur Aliyev - Trend:
France intends to strengthen its relations, as well as Europe's ties with independent partners, French President Francois Hollande said in Baku on May 12.
He was answering the questions as part of the Azerbaijani-French business forum.
"This is the purpose of my visit to Azerbaijan," he said.
He also stressed that the visit is not directed against anyone.
"We do not intend to convince anyone to refuse from cooperating with anyone," he said. "Our goal is to help the country to express itself and its positions. This concerns Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Ukraine, as well as other countries."
"Nagorno-Karabakh is one of the regional problems," he said. "This issue was discussed during a meeting with the Azerbaijani president."
The French president said that he intends to discuss this issue with the Armenian counterpart.
"Our goal is to find a solution to this conflict," he said. "The territorial issues will be discussed during my visit to Georgia, where this problem is also relevant."
"France is the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing country," he said. "It has been searching for different ways on sustainable and final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for a long time. There are issues hampering the conflict settlement."
"Nevertheless, the fact that I have visited Azerbaijan and then will leave for Armenia shows that the work continues. France is bound by friendly relations both with Azerbaijan and Armenia," Hollande said.
The French president emphasized the need for joint efforts to resolve the conflict.
Today's purpose is to hold meetings between the heads of two states in order to achieve new progress in resolving the conflict, Hollande added.
He went on to add that this conflict impedes the region's development and the free movement of people.
"France has always been active and is seeking new ways of resolving the conflict. This concerns the situation in Ukraine as well. Very tough decisions will be adopted with respect to the situation in this country is the coming days. We should strictly abide by the principles and give priority to dialogue in this issue."
"The issues regarding the respect for national minorities are characteristic for Ukraine, France, as well as for African and Eastern European countries. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, France wants to be helpful from this point of view as well," French president said.
He pointed out that the visa facilitation issues have been discussed during the negotiations in Baku, adding that the bilateral relations shouldn't be confined to economic issues.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the U.S. are currently holding peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.
Edited by S.I.