MOSCOW, March 24. /TASS/. Moscow cannot accept accusations of Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev who said some co-chairmen of the Minsk group were "contributing to freezing the conflict by their destructive activity," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday, referring to the conflict around the mostly Armenian populated Azerbaijani enclave of Nagorno Karabakh.
"We cannot accept it as directed towards us, as we have proved ourselves as a longstanding and constructive participant in the process of negotiations and it seems to me that the genuineness of our aims has been proved," the spokeswoman said of the Minsk group co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States.
She said that along with the Azerbaijani and Armenian parties, Russia was seeking "the settlement of this very difficult situation, which has for many years been the biggest problem in bilateral relations".
"We want very much to see this problem finally removed from the agenda," she said, adding that this should be done "on the basis of international law, equality and respect for the sides".
Neighbouring Armenia and Azerbaijan fell out with each other in the late 1980s because of Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up but was mainly populated by Armenians.
In 1991-1994, the confrontation spilled over into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and some adjacent territories. Thousands left their homes on both sides in a conflict that killed 30,000. A truce was called between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other in May 1994.
Talks on Nagorno-Karabakh have been held on the basis of the so-called Madrid Principles suggested by co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - Russia, France and the United States - in December 2007 in the Spanish capital.
They include three key principles written in the Helsinki Final Act: refraining from the threat or use of force, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination.