Details added after the first paragraph (the first version was posted at 15:56)
Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb.11 / Trend K. Zarbaliyeva /
Azerbaijan is seriously preparing for the de-occupation of its lands, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev said.
"Azerbaijan is seriously preparing for the liberation of its lands from the occupation. In such a situation any state would also do the same. No one can accuse Azerbaijan in this matter," Abiyev said today at a meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen Robert Bradtke, Bernard Fassier and Igor Popov, as well as the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Personal Representative Andrzej Kasprzyk.
During the meeting, the guests exchanged views on the situation on the contact line and, in general, over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Abiyev said that despite the fact that the Minsk Group's activity has not yet yielded any concrete results, Azerbaijan still has not lost hopes for this mission.
According to Abiyev, it is necessary to unite efforts to resolve the conflict. He said that Armenia must end its policy of occupation, and peace can be achieved only in this context.
Abiyev stressed Azerbaijan's serious preparation for the liberation of its lands from occupation.
He said existing international rules should be applied in resolving such conflicts. He cited a number of countries as an example where similar rules have been applied in the recent past, and noted that a similar attitude should be towards Azerbaijan. However, Abiyev believes that, Azerbaijan does not see an appropriate attitude towards itself, which causes bitter regret.
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.