BAKU, September 9 (Itar-Tass) - U.S. President Barack Obama said it was the time for new efforts to restore peace in the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the compromise reached during the talks.
In his message to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivered by James Warlick, the new U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, who is in Baku on an exploratory trip, Obama had offered full support to Warlick in his mission and said his appointment to this post a month ago was a strong sign of the U.S. commitment to act towards a peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The U.S. president supported Aliyev’s intention to use direct dialogue with Armenia in the coming months, with the assistance of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, to break the stalemate in the Nagorno-Karabakh talks.
Aliyev said earlier that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict could be resolved only if the territorial integrity of his country was ensured.
“The conflict can be resolved only within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. There is no other solution, and I have no doubts that Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity,” the head of state said.
He stressed that Azerbaijan was seeking to solve the issue “peacefully.”
“We hope for a peaceful resolution yet. To this end, the Armenian side should unconditionally comply with the resolutions of international organisations, including the U.N. Security Council, free the occupied territories, and Azerbaijani citizens should return to their homes. After that peace and stability will come to the region,” Aliyev said.
He said the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the “biggest source of threat” in the region.
Azerbaijan and its people “will never allow a second Armenian state to be created on their historical land,” he said.
“Nagorno-Karabakh will never get independence. The people who live in Nagorno-Karabakh now, and the Azeris will certainly return there should live in autonomy. This is a well known international approach,” the president said.
He made it clear that Azerbaijan would “never step aside from its position of principle.”
The head of state called for a speedy and fair settlement in Karabakh on the basis of international law.
Speaking of the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said it was “a matter of the future.”
“We have said many times that we will never agree to any status for Nagorno-Karabakh outside Azerbaijan, and international law supports our positions,” the president said.
Aliyev urged Armenia to continue peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began on February 22, 1988. On November 29, 1989 direct rule in Nagorno-Karabakh was ended and Azerbaijan regained control of the region. However later a joint session of the Armenian parliament and the top legislative body of Nagorno-Karabakh proclaimed the unification of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.
On December 10, 1991, Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh held a referendum, boycotted by local Azeris, that approved the creation of an independent state.
The struggle over Nagorno-Karabakh escalated after both Armenia and Azerbaijan obtained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. By the end of 1993, the conflict had caused thousands of casualties and created hundreds of thousands of refugees on both sides. An unofficial ceasefire was reached on May 12, 1994.
As of August, 2008, the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group were attempting to negotiate a full settlement of the conflict. On August 2, 2008, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan travelled to Moscow for talks with Dmitry Medvedev, who was Russian president at that time. As a result, the three presidents signed an agreement that calls for talks on a political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.