Ambassador: U. S hopes for progress in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Azerbaijan, Baku, June 8 /Trend S. Ahmedova/
The U. S hopes for progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, US ambassador to Azerbaijan, Richard Morningstar told journalists in Baku today.
Speaking about United States Secretary of State John Kerry's meetings with Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers Elmar Mammadyarov and Edward Nalbandian, Morningstar noted that US Secretary has been heavily engaged with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, trying to move Nagorno Karabakh conflict towards resolution. Secretary Kerry hopes for the progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, ambassador said.
"He met last week individually with ministers of foreign affairs of Azerbaijan as well as Armenia, and he is very interested in the process of finding the solution to the conflict," the ambassador said. " This is a matter that is totally up to parties involved."
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 comprising 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.
Regarding the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan, which are to be held in October of 2013, Morningstar said that this is an issue for Azerbaijani politics.
"It is up to New Azerbaijan Party to nominate, it is up to anybody else to determine whether they will be candidates for presidential post," Morningstar said.
It should be noted that on June 7, at the fifth congress of the New Azerbaijan Party, the chairman of the party, President Ilham Aliyev was selected as candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.
"My hope is that, just as in any other country, that the elections will be free and fair, and Azerbaijanis would be able to vote for their president," Morningstar underscored.