Azerbaijani official: Russia to shift from militaristic to economic presence in South Caucasus
Azerbaijan, Baku, July 19 /Trend/
Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov believes that it's time for Russia to move from a militaristic to an economic stance in the South Caucasus.
Azerbaijan is concerned by the presence of Russian troops in Armenia, Azimov said in an interview with the Echo Moskvy radio station.
"Unfortunately, Russia finds it necessary to keep armed forces in Armenia. We see less and less reason for such a militaristic presence in the South Caucasus - it's time to change from tanks to tankers; that is, from a militaristic presence to an economic one", he added.
Persuading Armenia to accept constructive suggestions in negotiations over the Karabakh settlement is in Russia's best interest, Azimov said.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent 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 the 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.