Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 3 / Trend /
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Robert Bradtke of the United States of America, Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, and Jacques Faure of France) and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, met on September 2 with the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, and on September 3 with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, to address recent events in the region and efforts to peacefully resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the OSCE website said on Monday.
The Co-Chairs discussed with the two Ministers the August 31 decision of the Government of Azerbaijan to pardon Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani army officer who had been serving a life sentence in Hungary for the brutal 2004 murder of an Armenian officer in Budapest. They expressed their deep concern and regret for the damage the pardon and any attempts to glorify the crime have done to the peace process and trust between the sides.
The Co-Chairs reiterated to both Ministers that, as their Presidents stated in Los Cabos on June 19, there is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They will continue to maintain contacts with the sides to reduce tensions and advance the peace process.
The EU calls on the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia to prevent the escalation of tensions in bilateral relations as a result of extradition from Hungary to Azerbaijan of Ramil Safarov, sentenced for the murder of the Armenian officer, said Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
"We call on Azerbaijan and Armenia to show restraint in their public statements to prevent any kind of escalation of the situation," Kocijancic told reporters in Brussels, RIA Novosti reported.
She said that the EU, in particular, is concerned about the possible impact that the current situation could have on the region of the South Caucasus as a whole.
Russia, which is co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, received with deep concern reports of Baku's pardon of Azerbaijani serviceman Safarova, as well as the decision of the Hungarian authorities to extradite him to Azerbaijan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Return of Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan is a matter of relations between Azerbaijan and Hungary, which was resolved in the framework of the law and is not contrary to norms and principles of the international law, Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Elman Abdullayev said at a press briefing on Saturday.
Azerbaijani officer Ramil Safarov, who was convicted in Hungary, returned on Friday to Azerbaijan. The same day, under an order of the head of state, he was pardoned.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent 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 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.