Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend A.Ismaylova / The Azerbaijani side highlights the importance of toughening up its position in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement.
The Chief of the Foreign Relations Department of the Executive Apparat of the Azerbaijan President, Novruz Mammadov, said on 11 June, commenting on the next meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Saint-Petersburg, that in this case, Azerbaijan may use its leadership in the region.
According to Mammadov, the position will be toughened up both with regards to Azerbaijan and the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, and international organizations and the international community. They will be required to elaborate on their positions in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Mammadov said that the meeting of the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, lasted more than two hours. The meeting was hard. "Despite that Azerbaijan's rating is strengthening in the region, it was not enough that Armenia demonstrates constrictiveness in the talks," he said.
He stressed that Armenia did not agree with the conditions of the Prague process which envisages releasing the regions around Nagorno-Karabakh, de-mining them, returning internally displaced persons and placing peacekeeping forces. Mammadov said that several years after these conditions have been met then an agreement may be reached on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to Mammadov, there is a difference between the Government of Armenia and the self-declaring head of Nagorno-Karabakh. Exactly due to this, Armenia requires connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to the negotiations process, he added.
Mammadov stressed that the sides decided to continue the negotiations at the level of the Co-Chairs and Foreign Ministers. He did not comment on the future processes on the peaceful settlement of the conflict. According to Mammadov, if the international community does not express a concrete position and does not make a proposal, there may be an issue of military settlement of the conflict.
The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus appeared in 1988 due to territorial claims of Armenia against Azerbaijan. Armenia has occupied 20% of the Azerbaijani lands including Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven districts of the country surrounding it. Since 1992 to the present time, these territories have been under Armenian occupation. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a cease-fire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France and USA) are currently holding peaceful negotiations.