Azerbaijani FM: Regional stability can’t be achieved without addressing territorial conflicts in OSCE area (UPDATE 3)

Details added (first version posted at 15:15)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 5

By Viktoriya Zhavoronkova and Aygun Badalova - Trend:

Azerbaijan hopes that the Roadmap suggested by the incoming Swiss and Serbian Chairmanships will provide an ample opportunity to register progress in most problematic areas such as resolution of protracted conflicts and arms control, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said at the OSCE Ministerial Council held in Kiev on Dec. 5.

"The assumption that Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSBMs) and regional cooperation in itself have a potential of resolving a conflict when political and security consequences of the conflict have not been properly addressed, is utopian," Mammadyarov said.

The minister noted that Azerbaijan attaches the utmost importance to fully utilizing the OSCE's comparative advantage of being the only regional body with such a unique comprehensive security concept as well as broad and diverse membership.

"It is our conviction that dialogue and respect for undiminishing value of the Helsinki guiding principles of 1975 are the imperatives for realizing the core functions of OSCE," Mammadyarov said. "Experience of Azerbaijan in the United Nations Security Council and our collective efforts with partner nations proved that dialogue and cooperation, based on full respect to the norms and principles of international law, is a best remedy to restore trust and stabilize volatile political and security environment".

"We are convinced that establishment of a genuine OSCE security community without achieving substantive results on these tracks is hardly possible," Mammadyarov noted.

He said that illegal deployments of troops and heavy arms in the occupied territories of OSCE participating states are the major causes for ineffectiveness and gradual failure of existing arms control regimes.

"It is obvious that one cannot succeed in establishing fair, verifiable and predictable arms control mechanisms without demilitarizing the conflict affected territories," the minister said.

Confidence and security building measures cannot be taken out of the overall political and security context, in particular when conflict affected territories are viewed as an area of application, he added.

"OSCE field presences and institutions are important assets for assisting participating States to strengthen security cooperation and to implement commitments they have undertaken," Mammadyarov said. "In the meantime, it is embarrassing when an OSCE institution based just on its technical mandate and expertise albeit without proper knowledge of political and security environment as well as in absence of coordination with OSCE's Chairmanship and Secretary General, delivers official statement on behalf of the Organizations on a political matter such as election monitoring results. Therefore we believe that reviewing the role of ODIHR in election processes should be a part of the Helsinki+40 process," he said.

"After the meeting of two presidents and in accordance with their instructions, me and Foreign Minister Nalbandyan together with the co-chairs as well as separately start intensive consultations on moving beyond the unacceptable status-quo in the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the near future," Mammadyarov noted.

He went on to add that the delegations present in the hall are well aware about the position of Azerbaijan, which is based on four resolutions of the UN Security Council, guiding principles of the Helsinki Final Act and relevant OSCE documents.

Azerbaijan believes that basic principles as they reflected in the joint statement of the presidents of Minsk Group co-chairmen countries in L'Aquilla in 2009 could serve as a basis for opening substantive talks on comprehensive peace agreement, according to the Azerbaijani FM.

"Such a comprehensive peace agreement will envisage implementation of practical measures, where every step will dictate the next one and will be based on certain timeframes and the preceding elements," he said. "It will include all reasonable CSBMs starting with the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the seven occupied districts surrounding Nagorno Karabakh, providing security guarantees for the population accompanied by reopening of borders as well as communications and gradually bringing both - Armenian and Azerbaijani communities closer to each other".

"We are convinced that in order to reach a breakthrough in the negotiations we need to get rid off the factor of presence of the Armenian military forces on the occupied territories. We firmly believe that demilitarization of the conflict zone will bring more room for engagement on all possible tracks, create more confidence between both parties as well as between both communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan and decrease military rhetoric along with tensions in the region," Mammadyarov noted.

The minister called on the Armenian leadership to demonstrate a constructive approach for achieving a breakthrough in the negotiations and give its agreement to start together with co-chairs of the Minsk Group substantive talks on Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

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.

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