Azerbaijan ready for constructive Karabakh talks (UPDATE 2)

Details added (first version posted on 13:21)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.21

By Seba Aghayeva - Trend:

Azerbaijan is ready for constructive discussions on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based on the proposals on the negotiating table, the country's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told AzerTAg news agency.

This position was expressed once again during the meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan in Bern, Switzerland, according to the minister.

He said that Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov presented the proposals on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"These proposals reflect the agreements reached during the meeting of the presidents in Sochi, Newport and Paris in 2014 and have been worked out based on the renewed Madrid principles," said Mammadyarov.

By staging sabotages on the contact line and on Armenian-Azerbaijani border, Armenia deliberately aggravates the situation and carries out various illegal actions on Azerbaijan's occupied territories, thereby hindering the conflict's settlement by all means, said the foreign minister.

Mammadyarov said that while there are concrete proposals on the negotiating table, Armenia doesn't touch on these issues in its statements.

Armenia deliberately evades the essence of the negotiations by bringing into focus the secondary issues such as mechanisms of investigating incidents and by making statements intended for domestic audience, the minister added.

"Incidents take place due to the illegal presence of Armenian armed forces on Azerbaijan's occupied lands," he said. "After the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, there will be no incidents and accordingly, there will be no need to investigate them."

Mammadyarov further noted that the humanitarian aspects of the conflict were also discussed during the meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents in Bern.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev once again raised the issue of releasing Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev, Azerbaijanis taken hostage by Armenians, he added.

The foreign minister said that recently, as a sign of good intention, Azerbaijan has handed over an Armenian family to the opposing side.

"Now it is Armenia's turn. In accordance with its international humanitarian obligations and calls from the OSCE Minsk Group, Armenia should participate in the process of exchanging information about the missing people and release Dilgam Asgarov and Shahbaz Guliyev."

Jointly with OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, Azerbaijan will actively work in 2016 on resolving the conflict, he added.

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.

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Follow the author on Twitter: @Asebaa

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