Minsk Group Co-Chairs Reject Addressing Karabakh Issue at UN

PARIS (Armenpress)–The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution, Yuri Merzlyakov (Russia), Bernard Fassier (France) and Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Bryza (US) said in a statement that any action anywhere, including in the UN General Assembly, could undermine the positive developmen’s of recent months aimed at ending the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. They made the statement after meeting in Paris on February 14 and 15 in the presence of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman in Office, Andrze Kasprzyk, Azeri Trend news agency said. In a joint statement the co-chairs expressed hope that the sides will maintain the momentum that had developed in the negotiations in recent months and that the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet again in the nearest future to overcome the remaining differences on the basic principles of a future settlement agreement. While in Berlin, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said he would like to resolve the conflict with Armenia over Nagorno Karabakh peacefully, but did not rule out a war for the enclave, Itar-Tass news agency reported. "War is a catastrophe, but Azerbaijan is ready for any turn of developmen’s. We cannot wait forever," Aliyev said at a meeting with German political, economic and public figures on Thursday. He said Azerbaijan would never agree either to the independence of Nagorno Karabakh or to its unification with Armenia. "The territorial integrity of Azerbaijan has never and will never be an issue of compromise," he said, adding that a referendum in Karabakh, at which 98 percent of local residents voted for independence, was unlawful. Aliyev stressed Azerbaijan has been heavily arming itself of late to protect its territorial integrity. This year it has a $ 1 billion military budget. "It is more than the whole budget of Armenia and the figure will grow," Aliyev said, adding his country was actively developing the military-industrial complex, acquiring new weapons and hardware, and promoting domestic arms production. He said his foreign policy priority was "integration into the North Atlantic space" and partnership with NATO. Furthermore, Aliyev said Azerbaijan wanted to be a reliable energy supplier for Europe and can daily ship a million barrels of oil via Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. "The potential of Azerbaijan in the energy sphere is very high," the president said.

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