2010-10-01
Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan H.E. Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov at "28+1" Meeting of NATO North Atlantic Council. October 1, 2010, Brussels

This year has been a crucial period for the peaceful settlement. At one of the previous meetings of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia held on January 25, 2010 in Sochi, with participation of the Russian President, the Armenian side asked for a two-week period to react on the updated Madrid principles, which were presented to Azerbaijan and Armenia by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in December 2009 and January 2010. The last meeting in Sankt-Petersburg in June this year was also inconclusive.

The step-by-step approach introduced to Armenia and Azerbaijan by OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs is accepted by Azerbaijan in principle as a good base for achieving a lasting resolution of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Presidents of France, the Russian Federation and the United States issued joint statements in Italy 2009 and in Canada 2010 within the margin G8 Summit, expressing their full agreement for the need of taking the next step and complete the work which will enable to begin the drafting of comprehensive peace agreement. Unfortunately, Armenia is still prolonging the definite answer to Co-Chairs’ proposal.

Starting from this summer, Armenia has intensified violations of the cease-fire regime,   trying to get away with its destructive stance in the peace process. Another aim of the Armenian side is also to divert the attention of the Minsk Group Co-Chairmen from the actual peace process to the technical aspects of the cease-fire regime.

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We recognize the importance of a robust cease-fire regime that should minimize human losses. However, the international community should not settle for only dealing with technical aspects of the cease-fire, which was actually intended in 1994 as a temporary means to speedily proceed to an agreement on the conflict settlement. As we reconfirm our commitment to the cease-fire regime and call on Armenia to stop provocative intrusions on the frontline, we hope that efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the peace process will be redoubled since a solution to this protracted conflict is the best and the only 100 percent guarantee against young soldiers dying on the Line of Contact, as well as civilians from areas, adjacent to the frontline, being killed near their homes. The latter case is less known and underreported but because of that no less worrisome since Azerbaijani civilian victims of ceasefire violations number in hundreds.

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We have now a very delicate situation. It is not only about whether Armenia accepts a proposal of the OSCE Minsk Group or not. It is about whether Armenia is sincerely willing to change the status-quo in any way under any condition.

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We start to have our doubts. There are too many worrying signals that suggest that Armenia is not interested in a peaceful solution to the conflict. In addition to its destructive stance in the peace process, Armenia is daily acting on the ground. It supports the growing settlements in the occupied territories; Azerbaijani cultural and historic heritage in the occupied territories is systematically destructed; property of the forcibly expelled Azerbaijani population is being privatized; there are illegal archaeological excavations that should support their claim that the occupied territories are actually ‘historically Armenian’, on Armenian maps occupied territories, including those beyond the Nagorno Karabakh region, are depicted as a part of Armenia and so on. In other words, Armenia tries to make the situation irreversible. Those provocative actions put additional time pressure on us. Armenia’s destructive position in the peace-process, its actions in the occupied territories combined with their provocations in the frontline and military exercises in the occupied territories make the situation dangerous. Despite all this, acting in the spirit of compromise and following the request by the Co-chairmen we decided to postpone the consideration of a draft resolution “On situation within the occupied territories of Azerbaijan”. But we have to be under no illusion – it is the illegal actions in the occupied territories, not their consideration in the UN or any other forum that undermines the peace process.

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There has recently been a lot of purely propagandistic talk about the importance of the non-use of force coming from Armenia. Our neighbour, having used force against the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, militarily occupied a significant part of Azerbaijan and deported hundreds of thousands of ethnic Azerbaijanis from the occupied territories. It continues the use of force to sustain the control over the occupied territories, including beyond the Nagorno Karabakh region, and to hinder the return of the IDPs to their homes. This use of force continuum on the part of Armenia represents a challenge to both Azerbaijan and the entire international community.

The international community should unequivocally state that the status quo - the continuing use of force - is unacceptable and express its support for the soonest resolution of the conflict by peaceful means.

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