Azerbaijan, Baku, July 5 /Trend, E.Tariverdiyeva/
In their meetings in both Baku and Yerevan, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement stressed the commitment of their three countries to support a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, based upon the Helsinki principles of non-use of force or the threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
In that respect, they noted the progress that has been made and the recognition by both sides that the elements articulated by their three Presidents in L'Aquila and repeated in their June 26, 2010 statement must be the basis of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The presidents of Russia, the United States and France during G8 summit in Canada issued a joint statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which called on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to accelerate work on the Main principles of settlement of the conflict in order to begin drafting a Peace agreement.
The statement noted that the heads of states - co-chairs of the Minsk Group have been considered as an important step towards the recognition by both parties of the fact that the settlement must be based on several principles, among which, returning of the occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees of security and self-government; corridor linking Armenia with Nagorno- Karabakh. The final legal determination of future status of Nagorno Karabakh "by a legally binding will of people, the right of all refugees and internal displaced persons to return to their former homes, international guarantees of security, including peacekeeping operations" is among these principles. These provisions correspond with the basic points of the Madrid principles.
The Co-Chairs urged the parties, in a spirit of constructive compromise, to take the next step and move towards completing work on the Basic Principles to enable the drafting of a peace agreement to begin. They called upon the sides to strictly observe the 1994 ceasefire and exercise restraint along the Line of Contact. During their visit, the Co-chairs also presented to the parties their plan to undertake a mission to the occupied territories in this fall, which was accepted in principle.
The Co-Chairs expect that a meeting will take place between the heads of their delegations and the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan on the margins of the OSCE Informal Ministerial in Almaty July 16-17.
The Minsk Group Co-Chairs (Ambassador Bernard Fassier, France; Ambassador Robert Bradtke, United States; and Ambassador Igor Popov, Russia) visited Yerevan and Baku July 3-5, Minsk Group statement published on OSCE website said. Ambassador Bradtke and Ambassador Popov also visited Nagorno-Karabakh July 2.
In Nagorno-Karabakh, Ambassador Bradtke and Ambassador Popov briefed the de facto authorities on the latest developments in the peace process, including the June 26, 2010 statement of Presidents Dmitry Medvedev, Barack Obama, and Nicolas Sarkozy. They also discussed the June 18-19 incident along the Line of Contact. They deplored this incident as an unacceptable violation of the ceasefire, and reiterated their regret over the senseless loss of life and their strong condemnation of the use of force. In Yerevan, the three Co-Chairs met President Serzh Sargsian, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, and Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan. In Baku, they met with President Ilham Aliyev, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, Defense Minister Safar Abiyev, and representatives of Azerbaijani internally displaced persons from the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the statement says.
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.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the occupied territories.