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Mediators propose Armenian, Azerbaijani leaders hold meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh issue

Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan emphasized the need to stabilize the situation along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh

YEREVAN, July 12. /TASS/. International mediators on resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh issue have proposed that the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan hold a meeting until the year ends, Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Tigran Balayan told TASS following talks between the two countries top diplomats in Brussels.

"The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh have asked the two countries’ ministers to pass their proposal to the presidents to hold a summit later in the year," he said. "An agreement was reached that the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers would meet once again in September, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in New York," Balayan pointed out.

The meeting between Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan and Azerbaijani top diplomat Elmar Mammadyarov took place in Brussels on July 11 upon the initiative of the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group Igor Popov (Russia), Stephane Visconti (France) and Richard Hoagland (the US). The meeting was also attended by Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk.

"The meeting’s participants discussed ways to create conditions for advancing the negotiating process concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh issue," the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to the Armenian foreign ministry spokesman, Nalbandyan "emphasized the need to stabilize the situation along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh." "In this connection, he pointed to the need to implement the agreements reached at the Vienna and St. Petersburg summits," Balayan said. He added that the agreements concerned the expansion of the OSCE mission’s monitoring capabilities and the implementation of mechanisms to investigate into incidents taking place along the line of contact.

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

The highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh (or Mountainous Karabakh) is a mostly Armenian-populated enclave inside Azerbaijan’s territory. It is a self-proclaimed independent republic, not recognized by any of the United Nations member states.

In 1988, hostilities broke out there between the forces reporting to the Baku government and Armenian residents. In 1994, a ceasefire was reached but relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia has remained strained ever since.

Azerbaijan insists that its territorial integrity should be restored, refugees should return to Nagorno-Karabakh, and after that talks about its status could begin. Baku is ready to grant autonomy to the region, but is unwilling to hold direct talks with Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, Armenia strongly opposes the region’s reunification with Azerbaijan and says that its right to self-determination should be considered first.

Russia, France and the United States co-chair the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which seeks to broker an end to the conflict.