Azerbaijani FM: Azerbaijan ready to use all means to achieve progress in Nagorno-Karabakh problem (UPDATE)
Last four paragraphs were added (the first version was posted at 13:42)
Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan.27 / Trend R. Hafizoglu /
Azerbaijan seeks to establish peace and stability in the Caucasus region, and particularly this concerns the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said in an interview with Russia Today channel's Arabic editorial staff.
"It is impossible to establish and maintain neighborly relations in the 21st century turning a blind eye to the occupation of 20 percent of the Azerbaijani territories and ethnic cleansing against the Azerbaijani population in these territories," 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 United States - 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 and the surrounding regions.
The Azerbaijani side believes that it is necessary to seek ways of resolving the conflict, in which all sides' interests will be protected, the minister said.
"I came to Moscow to continue seeking a way out of this conflict with Russia's mediation," Mammadyarov said.
Moscow hosted a meeting of the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Russian foreign ministers on Jan.24
Elmar Mammadyarov, Edward Nalbandian and Sergei Lavrov held negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on Russia's initiative in the Reception House of Foreign Ministry on Monday.
Despite the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the two sides, people continue to die on the contact line, Mammadyarov said.
"We must do everything necessary to solve this problem," he said.
According to him, troops should be withdrawn from the occupied territories, as was envisaged in the basic document of the negotiations - the Madrid Principles. Refugees must return to their place of residence. Infrastructure in the occupied territories must be restored, which is also reflected in this document, the minister added.
"The current situation cannot last forever. We must use all means in order to achieve progress in Nagorno Karabakh," Mammadyarov said
He highlighted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's role in reaching an agreement between the Nagorno-Karabakh conflicting sides over on the exchange of captives and dead bodies.
Astrakhan hosted a trilateral meeting of the presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia - Ilham Aliyev, Dmitry Medvedev and Serzh Sargsyan - on Oct. 27. The parties signed a declaration envisaging the return of POWs.
Mammadyarov also called the Meyendorff Declaration, which meets all the international principles, as successful. The document was adopted in the Meyendorff castle near Moscow on Nov. 2 as a result of a meeting of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia's presidents. It particularly notes that the resolution of the conflict based on the principles and norms of international law, as well as decisions and documents adopted in this framework, will create favorable conditions for economic development and full cooperation in the region.
The declaration also states that Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed that achieving peace resolution should be accompanied by legally binding international guarantees.
Mammadyarov expressed regret for Armenia's failure to fulfill four UN Security Council resolutions envisaging withdrawal of the Armenian troops from the Azerbaijani territories and return of refugees back to their homes. All these requirements are still on paper, he added.
"In addition, there are PACE and the Council of Europe's resolutions, which indicate that this problem should be resolved step-by step and the territories should be freed, as the occupation of another country's territory is unacceptable," Mammadyarov said.