BAKU, October 26 (Itar-Tass) — Georgia is ready to provide any mediatory aid to Azerbaijan and Armenia in the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said.
Speaking at a press conference after the talks with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov on Wednesday, Vashadze said, “The South Caucasus is an integral system, which cannot be disrupted. The three countries should realise that we are all in the same boat. The independence of our countries are inseparably associated that is why if it necessary we are ready to provide aid to Azerbaijan and Armenia in the settlement of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
He stressed that the resolution of the problem should be based on the norms of international law.
At the same time, Vashadze called for continuing talks. “Any format of talks should be continued. Any talks are better than an open, smouldering or closed conflict,” he said.
The landlocked mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is the subject of an unresolved dispute between Azerbaijan, in which it lies, and its ethnic Armenian majority, backed by neighbouring Armenia.
In 1988, towards the end of Soviet rule, Azerbaijani troops and Armenian secessionists began a bloody war, which left the de facto independent state in the hands of ethnic Armenians when a truce was signed in 1994.
Negotiations have so far failed to produce a permanent peace agreement, and the dispute remains one of post-Soviet Europe's "frozen conflicts." With the break-up of the Soviet Union, in late 1991, Karabakh declared itself an independent republic, further escalating the conflict into a full-scale war. That de facto status has not been recognised elsewhere.
In a December 2006 referendum, declared illegitimate by Azerbaijan, the region approved a new constitution. Nonetheless, there have since been signs of life in the peace process, with occasional meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents. Significant progress was reported at talks between the leaders in May and November 2009, but progress then stalled, and tension began rising again as of 2010.
The OSCE Minsk Group was created in 1992 by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, now Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)) to encourage a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. The Minsk Group is headed by Russia, France and the United States.
An additional format had been created over the Karabakh settlement – Russia plays a mediating role. The presidents of three countries met in Astrakhan in October 2010.
They adopted a joint declaration after the meeting. “This is a special declaration on the enhancement of confidence-building measures,” Medvedev said, adding that the document envisioned “an exchange of prisoners of war and the return of the bodies.”
“Having confirmed the provisions of the joint Declaration signed in Moscow on November 2, 2008, the presidents stressed that the resolution of the conflict by political and diplomatic means requires further efforts to strengthen the ceasefire and military confidence-building measures,” the joint statement said.
Commenting on the conflict in Georgia, Vashadze said his country was not going to give up the Geneva talks with Russia.
The minister said the Georgian-Russian talks, which are being held since 2009, had not yielded any tangible results. “Georgia will do its best to preserve the Geneva format,” Vashadze said.