FM: For status quo to change, Armenian troops should leave occupied Azerbaijani lands
Baku, Azerbaijan, June 1
Changing the status quo in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict requires the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The Azerbaijani FM informed the NATO secretary general on the negotiation process to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, adding that the Vienna meeting of the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents created an effective opportunity to start substantive negotiations, said the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry's press service June 1.
Mammadyarov also noted that the OSCE Minsk Group's co-chairs and the international community consider the status quo in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict unreliable, inconsistent and unacceptable, and it is necessary to put an end to the occupation in order to change the status quo.
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 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
During the meeting, Mammadyarov and Stoltenberg also expressed satisfaction with the development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and NATO, pointing to Azerbaijan's providing transit for the NATO forces in Afghanistan, as well as Azerbaijan's contributing to peacekeeping missions.
The sides also noted that the commissioning of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway will expand Afghanistan's possibility of entering the regional transport infrastructure.