Azerbaijan urges OSCE to push Armenia to withdraw from occupied lands (UPDATE)

Details added (first version posted on 12:15)

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 12

By Seba Aghayeva - Trend:

OSCE should push Armenia to withdraw its troops from Azerbaijan's occupied territories and to start working on the Great Peace Agreement, said the statement from Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the OSCE.

The statement was made during the meeting of OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on Mar.11 in response to the remarks of Armenian foreign minister.

"This meeting of OSCE Permanent Council can create a unique opportunity for Armenia to understand the growing concern of the organization's member states over the violation of the internationally recognized borders by using force," said the statement from Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan.

"Azerbaijan is committed to the process of settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and supports the efforts of OSCE Minsk Group in this process, said the statement. "The country believes that the resumption of regular meetings of Minsk Group members in the full format in Vienna could play a role of a platform for dialogue."

Responding to the international community and presidents of Minsk Group co-chairing countries, Armenia should immediately start comprehensive and structured negotiations, release Azerbaijani hostages Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev and ensure the exchange of information about the missing people, according to the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan.

The Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan also drew attention to Armenia's actions hindering the progress in the negotiation process, holding large scale military exercises by this country on Azerbaijan's occupied territories, continuation of the policy of illegal resettlement in these territories by Armenia and its plans on holding "election" in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The presence of Armenian armed units on Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territories remains the most serious factor hindering progress in the negotiation process and creation of the atmosphere of trust in the conflict zone, said the statement.

"Such policy that has been pursued by Armenia for decades, isolates it from the regional development," said Azerbaijan's Permanent Mission. "Despite the economic, political and social differences between Azerbaijan and Armenia, we are not interested in the existence of a small, isolated neighboring country which also has territorial claims to all its neighbors."

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.

Edited by SI

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