Baku, Azerbaijan, May 15
By Sabina Ahmadova - Trend:
Stefan Fule, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, spoke to the 'The Business Year - Azerbaijan 2014' magazine.
In his interview with the magazine, Fule touched upon such issues as resolving regional conflicts and the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Speaking to the magazine, Fule said the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict's settlement remains one of the top priorities for the foreign policy of the European Union.
"The EU is fully committed to supporting the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process," Fule said. "Only a peaceful, negotiated settlement can allow the entire region to move toward a secure and prosperous future and can help unleash the full potential of the South Caucasus region as a gateway between Europe and Asia."
He also said the EU is concerned about the lack of tangible progress on the settlement of the conflict.
"In this context, we welcomed the meeting of the President of Azerbaijan and President of Armenia in Vienna on November 19, 2013, and commended the OSCE Minsk Group Co Chairs for their efforts in facilitating the resumption of top level meetings," Fule underscored.
He stressed that the EU called upon Azerbaijan and Armenia to step up their efforts toward agreement on the Madrid Principles as a basis for peace, in accordance with the commitments undertaken by the presidents within the OSCE Minsk Group.
"Concerned about the escalation of tension due to confrontational rhetoric and serious incidents along the line of contact and along the international border between the two countries, the EU has urged both sides to respect the ceasefire agreement, fulfil their commitments made in the framework of the Minsk Group, and refrain from actions and statements that could heighten tension and undermine the peace process," Fule added.
He also said the engagement of Azerbaijan with the EU is based on the European Neighborhood Policy and on the Eastern Partnership, adding that the current legal framework for bilateral relations is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, signed in 1999.
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.
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