Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains high on EU agenda
Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 28/ Trend, E.Ostapenko/
The conflicts in the European Union's Neighbourhood - in Nagorno Karabakh, in Transistria, in Abkhazia and South Ossetia - are perhaps the most concerning obstacles to progress, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton believes.
"We expect our Eastern partners in the region to do their utmost to make progress towards peaceful settlement, a strategic priority for the EU, just as we are making specific, dedicated efforts to address the many challenges these conflicts pose. Progress here will mean progress in our relationship as a whole," she said in a statement on Tuesday ahead of the Eastern Partnership Summit.
"Clearly, Nagorno-Karabakh remains high on our agenda. In support of the Minsk Group, we are in dialogue with all the parties, to help them find a shared solution," the statement, shared by EU press-service, reads.
The conflict 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 seven 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.
Ashton referred to recent appointment of Philippe Lefort, French diplomat, as the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia.
"His mandate includes contributing to the peaceful settlement of conflicts in accordance with the principles of international law, working closely with all partners involved," she said.
Second Summit of Eastern Partnership Initiative is taking place in Warsaw on 29-30 September in the framework of Polish Presidency in the EU Council. The first Summit that launched the Program took place in Prague in May 2009.
Eastern Partnership includes Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. Poland was one of the initiators of the program, which offers partner countries to facilitate the visa regime, energy cooperation, to introduce free trade zones and develop cooperation in other spheres.
The EU is committed to making the Warsaw Summit a success, and to giving renewed momentum to building the closest possible relations with the EU Eastern partners and neighbours, Ashton said.