Armenian Azeri Ministers Trade Accusations On Karabakh

UNITED NATIONS (RFE/RL)–The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan traded fresh accusations over the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at a session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

Armenia’s Vartan Oskanian asserted the right of Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population to live–in his words–free of foreign occupation and said that Azerbaijan is at fault for the continuing dispute over the enclave.

"Azerbaijan’s insistence on inventing numbers–redefining terms–creating history and obfuscating discussion are part of the problem and not a search for a solution," Oskanian said–adding that Karabakh has never been a part of independent Azerbaijan and its residents have earned the right to live according to their own rules and values.

He said for 10 years Armenian representatives have affirmed at the UN general debate the right of Karabakh’s residents to live according to their basic beliefs.

But Azeri Foreign Minister Vilayat Guliev–who addressed the Assembly before Oskanian–presented a diametrically opposite view of the conflict–saying that the right to self-determination must not take precedence over the principle of territorial integrity under any peace deal. He accused the Armenian side of expelling of hundreds of thousands of Azeris from Karabakh and surrounding areas in Azerbaijan proper during the 1991-94 war.

"The right of self determination cannot be regarded as a right for forcible separation of a part of a territory of a state and it must not justify a violation of the territorial integrity of states," he said.

Guliev also faulted the OSCE’s Minsk Group – co-chaired by Russia–France and the United States – for failing to produce results in its mediation efforts for nearly ten years.

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