Azerbaijan, Baku, May 27 / Trend S. Agayeva /
The Azerbaijani government thinks that Armenia must draw conclusions from the last statement of the Russian, U.S and French Presidents over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
"Of course, we welcome the statement made by the presidents in Deauville, France during the G8 meeting," the head of the foreign relations department at the Presidential Administration Novruz Mammadov told Trend. "The presidents' concern over the unresolved conflict is clear and pleases. They stress the necessity of rapid settlement of the conflict through negotiations. We also attach great importance to this."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, U.S President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to demonstrate the political will and to finalize the basic principles [the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh] during the upcoming Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in June.
"The further delay will put the desire of the parties to reach an agreement under question," a joint statement of the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing countries said.
Mammadov said that until now the negotiation process has been delayed by the fault of the Armenian side.
"The Armenian side expressed its positive attitude towards the proposals made in late 2009," he said. "Later, it changed its position and that has been the key reason for loss of time until now. Henceforth, the continuation of the talks conducted by co-chairmen, the preparation of an updated version, the report of the assessment mission and the need for changing the status quo necessitates the settlement of the conflict. I think this appeal was made directly to the Armenian side. Neverthess, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian wants to confuse the international public opinion. All know that Armenia has occupied Azerbaijani lands and keeps them under this status."
According to Mammadov, this status quo cannot be preserved anymore and should be changed. First of all, the Armenian side must withdraw its troops from seven Azerbaijani regions peacefully and through negotiations.
He said Azerbaijan most of all wants the conflict to be resolved peacefully and through negotiations.
"People, who resided in this territory before the conflict, must be repatriated and resettled there," he said. "The first stage in the negotiation process to resolve the conflict should include improvement work, mine clearance and other work. Then other stages must be continued.
The referendum is planned to be held and the relevant issues to be considered at the last stage. The Armenian side must not again seek a pretext for delaying the talks now, in response to the presidents' statement. It must agree with the variant of settlement proposed by the co-chairmen, actively supported by President Medvedev and stressed by the three Presidents today and to demonstrate the will to take a step forward."
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.
See Novruz Mammadov's statement also on his personal page on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NovruzMammadov