Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement mulled in Paris

By: Sara Rajabova

The ways of settling Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was in focus in Paris as Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev paid a visit to France to meet with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

President Aliyev and Armenian President Sargsyan had a joint meeting with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on October 27.

Following the joint meeting with the co-chairs, the Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents met in a private meeting. Then, President Aliyev and President Sargsyan had another joint meeting with the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. Later, French President Francois Hollande joined the meeting.

The president’s meeting comes after the French president’s visit to South Caucasus on May 11-13. During this trip, French president had reaffirmed the commitment of France, as a co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group, to continue the mediation for finding a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, twenty years after the entry into force of the ceasefire agreement, the Elysee Palace said following the meeting.

In the context of increasing armed incidents this summer in Nagorno-Karabakh, which caused many casualties in both sides, as well as among civilians, President Hollande called on for resumption of direct dialogue between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents.

French President also noted the need to effectively reduce tensions between the two sides on the frontline, the report reads.

Tensions along the frontline were aggravated in mid-summer as Armenian armed forces attacked Azerbaijani positions. Sporadic fighting has continued ever since. Fourteen Azerbaijani servicemen were killed and several others injured during the clashes between two sides. Armenia hadn’t released the exact number of its casualties.

During the Paris meeting, the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents reached an agreement on the exchange of the data about those missing in action (MIA) in the Nagorno-Karabakh war under the auspices of the International Red Cross, the report reads.

President Hollande also encouraged the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents to intensify their efforts towards a negotiated and lasting settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, in accordance with the principles of international law and the principles, identified by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group.

He also urged the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents to demonstrate the necessary political will to overcome their differences and prepare their populations for peace. Hollande proposed starting to draft a comprehensive peace agreement for moving forward.

Presidents Aliyev and Sargsyan agreed to continue their dialogue and it is not ruled out to hold a new meeting between presidents in September 2015 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, according to the Elysee Palace.

The three presidents also discussed the development of the Caucasus region and its relations with France.

After the meetings, a dinner reception was hosted on behalf of President Hollande in honor of President Aliyev and President Sargsyan.

This is the third meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents this year after the Sochi and Wales meetings.

During his Paris visit, President Aliyev also had an expanded meeting with President Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

During the meeting, the sides expressed their satisfaction with the successful development of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and France in a variety of fields. It was noted that there were good prospects for expanding cooperation in energy, aero-cosmic industry, military-technical, educational, metro construction and other fields. The parties exchanged views on the realization of the Southern Corridor energy project.

The sides also focused on the state of negotiations over the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and the fair resolution of the conflict on the basis of norms of international law and relevant documents. The sides underlined the necessity of ensuring a change in the status quo in the conflict and the liberation of the occupied territories.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict emerged in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since a lengthy war in the early 1990s that displaced over one million Azerbaijanis, Armenian armed forces have occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions. The UN Security Council’s four resolutions on Armenian withdrawal have not been enforced to this day.

Peace talks, mediated by Russia, France and the U.S. through the OSCE Minsk Group, are underway on the basis of a peace outline proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs and dubbed the Madrid Principles. The negotiations have been largely fruitless so far.


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