Azerbaijan, Baku 20 March / corr Trend K.Ramazanova / The Co-Chairs in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution consider that a first meeting between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan could lead to the resumption of peace talks. The Co-Chairs express their sincere hope that this meeting, accepted in principle by the two sides, will take place and lead to the resumption of negotiations for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the Document on the Basic principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, presented to the sides on November 29, 2007 in Madrid before the opening of the OSCE Ministerial Council, according the official statement issued by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.
The Co-Chairs remain convinced that any peaceful and equitable settlement of the conflict will require unavoidable compromises among the parties. They underline the urgent need to resume the negotiations after the pause due to the presidential election in Armenia. In that respect, they note with satisfaction the affirmation of both Foreign Ministers of the need to continue the discussions between the sides.
After these meetings the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs recall that, as reiterated before the vote on the "Resolution on the Situation in the Occupied Territories of Azerbaijan" at the UN General Assembly, France, the Russian Federation and the United States support the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and therefore do not recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh, while holding that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh is a matter of negotiations between the parties.
Finally, at a time when serious clashes resulting in the loss of life have occurred along the Line of Contact, the Co-Chairs urge both sides to refrain from unilateral and maximalist actions on the ground, at the negotiating table, as well as in their public rhetoric, and to fully and strictly comply with their obligations relating to the cease-fire."
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Yuri Merzlyakov for the Russian Federation, and Bernard Fassier for France, as well as Mike Carpenter, Advisor to U.S. Co-Chair Matt Bryza) met with the Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanian in Vienna on the 14th of March and with the Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs Elmar Mammadyarov in Paris on the 15th of March.
The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus began in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since 1992, Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20% of Azerbaijan including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France, and the US) are currently holding peaceful negotiations.