YEREVAN, December 19. /TASS/. Armenia will continue negotiations to reach peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a televised interview, commenting on talks between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held on Saturday in Bern, Switzerland.
"Armenia has supported and is supporting the continuation of a negotiating process and settlement of the crisis through negotiations," Nalbandian said. "The Armenian president’s participation in the talks in Bern speaks well for this approach of Armenia."
"There is no alternative to the talks," he said. Armenia "has reiterated its readiness to continue talks and to move ahead to settlement, basing on the proposals (of the co-chairs of the Minsk Group of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe - Russia, France and the United States - eds. TASS)."
"Armenia confirms its determination to go ahead alongside the co-chairs in resolving the crisis by exclusively peaceful efforts," he said adding that in Bern the sides "voiced their approaches to different principles of resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis."
At the same time, he noted that unfortunately the stances were far from being close or similar.
"Any meeting, especially at the presidential level, is very important so that the talks could go on as there is no other alternative," the foreign minister said.
"The more often such meetings are held, the more opportunities to discuss things tick-by-tick appear, including both promotion of the process of peace settlement and working out the mechanisms aimed at easing the tensions," Nalbandian said.
Over the past seven years, Armenia and Azerbaijan had held over 20 summits, he said noting that "the agreement was within reach at some of them but Azerbaijan has always taken a step back."
The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. It was the first zone of inter-ethnic tensions and violence to appear on the map of the former USSR.
Even almost a quarter of a century after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Karabakh remains a so-called 'frozen conflict' on the post-Soviet space, as the region is the subject of a dispute between Azerbaijan and the local Armenian population that draws on strong support from fellow-countrymen in neighbouring Armenia.
In 1988, hostilities broke out there between the forces reporting to the government in Baku and Armenian residents, which resulted in the region's de facto independence.
In 1994 a ceasefire was reached but the relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia remain strained ever since then.
Russia, France and the U.S. co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which attempts to broker an end to hostilities and the conflict.