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Withdrawal of Armenian troops from occupied Azerbaijani territories in limited timeframe could be key to resolving Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Azerbaijani FM (UPDATED)

Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict Materials 2 December 2009 14:24 (UTC +04:00)
The withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories in a limited timeframe could be the key to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said at the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Athens today.
Withdrawal of Armenian troops from occupied Azerbaijani territories in limited timeframe could be key to resolving Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Azerbaijani FM  (UPDATED)

EDITOR'S NOTE: New paragraphs added after third paragraph

Greece, Athens, Dec. 2 / Trend E.Huseynov /

The withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories in a limited timeframe could be the key to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said at the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Athens today.

"The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a major source of instability in the South Caucasus and an obstacle in integration into the European community," the minister said.

"The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a major source of instability in the South Caucasus and an obstacle in our integration into the European community," the minister said.

Mammadyarov voiced his disappointment that 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territory is still kept under occupation and historical and cultural heritage sites are being stolen in these areas. He also noted with regret that Azerbaijan has over 1 million refugees and IDPs.

The minister said the peace talks on the conflict intensified this year, both on the level of presidents and foreign ministers, as well as the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs.

The Azerbaijani government supports the further intensification of the negotiation process, Mammadyarov said.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts. Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russia, France, and the U.S. - are currently holding the peace negotiations.

"I note the positive dynamics of the recent negotiations, including those held in the framework of the Minsk Group, which have led the co-chairs to intensify the talks," Mammadyarov added.

Mammadyarov said Baku pursues a constructive policy based on the peaceful coexistence of the Armenian and Azerbaijani communities in Nagorno-Karabakh.

"It provides a basis to normalize the Armenia-Azerbaijan relations and to grant self-government to Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan. It will give a firm and fair basis for resolving [the conflict] and substantially relaxing tension," he said.

In his address Mammadyarov welcomed a proposal to hold a summit for OSCE member country heads of state, as well as informal meetings at the ministerial level on the Corfu process.

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