Russia to continue rendering assistance in resolving Karabakh conflict – FM (UPDATE 2)

Details added (first version posted on 14:44)

Basel, Switzerland, Dec.5

By Elchin Huseynov - Trend:

Russia will continue rendering assistance to the sides of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in resolving it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference in Basel, Switzerland on Dec.5.

He said the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a long-standing, difficult process and the approaches have changed in it.

"Together with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chars, for many years we have been engaged in reducing these approaches to a common denominator in order to start to negotiate on the practical implementation of fixed principles: respect for territorial integrity, non-use of force and respect for the right of peoples to self-determination," Lavrov said.

He added that this is a very complicated process, but it is still going on.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and the US are currently holding peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented the UN Security Council's four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.

"I'm confident that as before, we and our partners from the US and France will assist Azerbaijan and Armenia in reaching mutually acceptable agreements," Russian foreign minister said.

Lavrov added that on the sidelines of the 21st OSCE Ministerial Council that kicked off in Basel on Dec.4, the co-chairs made a joint settlement reiterating their determination to assist the sides in seeking the ways of resolving the conflict.

The heads of delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the US Secretary of State John Kerry, and the French State Secretary for European Affairs Harlem Desir - remain strongly committed to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to their joint statement posted on OSCE website Dec. 4.

"There is no military solution, and we call on the sides to refrain from violence and work actively towards a lasting settlement," the statement said.

OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries' delegation heads expressed regret in the statement on the upsurge in violence this year along the line of contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

"Russia has one plan - to strongly encourage the sides to reach an agreement - since the conflict can be settled only by those who have entered it and who participates in it," he said. "It is about both the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement and Transnistrian and Ukrainian crisis."

Lavrov said that reaching an agreement between the sides is the main thing.

"That external support should very carefully keep them at the negotiating table instead of trying to stage any provocation as it was in 2003 when settling the Transnistrian issue."

"The document initialed by the leaders of Transnistria and Moldavian president - the settlement plan - wasn't signed, as before the signing day, the management of the EU foreign policy structures demanded Moldavian president not to sign the document," Lavrov said. "And we have had troubles with this issue since then."

He said there have been ups and downs in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, even the settlement concept was changed, but all this was agreed upon between the sides and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs by all means attempt to assist them.

"The trio of co-chairs on Karabakh conflict settlement is an example of international mediation, while there are many pitfalls in the 5+2 format (Transnistrian settlement): a kind of mediators, observers which advance their ideas," Lavrov said.

"This is while there is a very good friendly coordination in the settlement of Karabakh conflict which allows to keep the process on the track of negotiations," he said. "Hopefully, the results will be achieved in the near future."

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