BAKU, April 07. /ITAR-TASS/. The Chairman of the Russian Army General Staff, Colonel-General Valery Gerasimov called for a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
He met with Azerbaijani Defence Minister Zakir Gasanov on Monday, April 7, to discuss further military-technical cooperation and ways to increase it. One of the main tasks facing Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia is to solve the Karabakh issue in order to move forward and rule out the use of force, Gerasimov said.
Gasanov said cooperation between the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan and Russia was developing at a high level in all areas, including military development, education, and military-technical ties. “The Armed Forces of Azerbaijan are receiving modern Russian weapons, tanks, combat vehicles and artillery systems. All this helps strengthen our country’s defence capability,” Gasanov said. Speaking of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said, “I hope that as a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia will facilitate a peaceful resolution of this issue.”
Following their briefing of Minsk Group members in Vienna on April 3, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Jacques Faure of France, and James Warlick of the United States of America) met on April 4 with the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, and Armenia, Edward Nalbandian. The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, also participated in the meeting.
The co-chairs reiterated to the Ministers their commitment to working toward a just and peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They discussed a possible summit meeting between the Presidents in the near future, and acknowledged the urgency of further progress on the substantive issues. The co-chairs again emphasised to the Ministers the need to take concrete steps to reduce tensions in the region and advance the peace process.
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.