Top official: Armenia must comply with international law and withdraw its troops from Azerbaijani land
Turkey, Istanbul, Dec. 6 / Trend, special correspondent A.Badalova /
Armenia must comply with the international law and withdraw its troops from Azerbaijani land, Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Political Analysis and Information Provision Department Head Elnur Aslanov said at the Caspian forum in Istanbul on Thursday.
"Only then real peace and stability will be in the region. We believe that the solution to the ongoing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is vital for the well being of entire South Caucasus region and Eurasia," Aslanov said.
Aslanov stressed that the total economic damage caused by Azerbaijani-Armenia Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is estimated at 431 billion US dollars.
"At the same time Azerbaijan and Armenia increase their military budgets. In addition, we have a huge humanitarian catastrophe - approximately one million refugees and internally displaced persons due to the occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia," Aslanov said.
"But our patience is not unlimited. The time to resolve this conflict has come," Aslanov added.
Aslanov stressed that all the steps from Azerbaijani side show that the country is committed to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
"We have a will and desire to resolve this problem. Unfortunately, there have been no such signals from other side," Aslanov said.
"Nevertheless, we are ready to continue the negotiations on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan," Aslanov added.
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.
Aslanov pointed out that Azerbaijan is also a major strategic partner and guarantor of energy security of Georgia.
"Azerbaijani companies have a large share in the Georgian economy. For example, SOCAR-Georgia plays an important part in the economic development of Georgia and is one of the country's largest taxpayers", he said.
Aslanov noted that Azerbaijan's share in the total investment volume in Georgia in the first half of 2012 amounted to just over 10 per cent.
"Azerbaijan invested $48.8 million in Georgia. It is next only to the Netherlands (37 per cent) and the US (11 per cent). Azerbaijan's total investment in the Georgian economy is approaching $ 3 billion", the official said.
According to him, Azerbaijan is a guarantor of a diversification of energy supplies to Europe.
"Azerbaijan is one of the main suppliers of energy to Turkey, and this relationship is still developing and growing. Soon 10 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani natural gas will flow through Turkey to Europe, and we plan to grow this trade to beyond 20 billion cubic meters per year", Aslanov said.
He pointed out that Azerbaijan has become an investor country and demonstrates its readiness to participate in the development of its neighbors and partners.
"To date, Azerbaijan's investment abroad constitutes $5 billion and is expected to increase several times in the short term. Azerbaijani investment will play a role in the progressive development of Georgia, Turkey, Ukraine and other countries of the Black Sea region, which will create a favorable environment for the effective implementation of regional projects", said the official.