Azerbaijan, Baku, 14 January / Тrend corr E. Huseynli / The head of the Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh community Nizami Bahmanov is sure that the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group's co-chairs to achieve some agreement before elections will be vain.
At the beginning of December 2007, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (France, USA and Russia), who in 1994 undertook mediation in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, for the first time submitted written offers on the settlement of the conflict to the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
On 13 January the co-chairs Bernard Facie, Matthew Bryza and Yuri Merzlakov began their next visit to the region. On their arrival Bryza said to journalists that an oral agreement may be achieved on the conflict before the presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Armenia will hold its presidential elections on 18 February and Azerbaijan will hold its presidential elections in October.
According to Bahmanov, Baku will make it clear whether there is a necessity to the continuation of peaceful negotiations this year.
At the reporting back meeting the Azerbaijani President honoured 2008 as the year of negotiations. He urged Armenia to vacate the occupied Azerbaijani regions - Aghdam, Fizuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli, Kalbajar, and Lachin. According to the President, the issue of the status may be discussed after the internally displaced persons come back to Shusha and Nagorno-Karabakh. This year Azerbaijan will consider the peaceful settlement and will make a decision.
The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus began in 1988, due to the Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since 1992, the Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20% of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven neighbouring districts. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement which ended the active hostilities. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France, and the US) are currently holding the peaceful negotiations.