Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 21
Return of the seven districts of Azerbaijan adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Armenia at the first stage remains a priority in the negotiations to resolve the conflict, Azerbaijani foreign ministry spokesman Hikmat Hajiyev said in an interview with Trend.
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.
Hajiyev said that the international community has long ago realized that namely phased settlement is the most appropriate way to solve the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Azerbaijan in the negotiation process adheres namely to this position, he said.
"The subject of discussions was the issue of the return of five or seven districts at the first stage," said Hajiyev. "The return of internally displaced persons to the liberated territories is further provided. Since most of all internally displaced persons are residents of namely these areas, the definite part of the problem with internally displaced persons will be resolved."
"Problems with the restoration of infrastructure in these districts, which was completely destroyed and devastated as the result of the occupation of these territories by Armenians, will be resolved at the next stage," he said.