Azerbaijan to Demand Explanation from Countries Voting Against Resolution

BAKU (Trend)–Azerbaijan will submit an agenda item about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to the spring session of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Europe (PACE), Trend News Agency reported Wednesday.
The spring session of PACE will be held in Strasbourg from April 14 to 18.
An Azeri delegation will demand clarification from the countries, which voted against or abstained from voting for an Azeri drafted UN General Assembly Resolution, which reaffirmed the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and called for withdrawal of Armenian forces from "occupied territories," Deputy Chairman of Azerbaijan’s Delegation to PACE Gultakin Hajiyeva told reporters Wednesday.
The resolution was adopted with 39 votes in the General Assembly on March 14. Over 100 countries abstained from the vote. America, Russia and France, the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group-the organization mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict-voted against the resolution, citing its one-sided and unconstructive nature. Most Council of Europe countries also abstained from the vote
The move comes at a time when Azerbaijan is trying to cast doubt on the current format of the negotiations in a possible bid to remove the conflict settlement process from international mediation.
Since 1997, the peace talks over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have been conducted by the American, French and Russian co-chairmen of the Minsk Group.
At the end of last year, the Minsk Group tried to persuade the two sides to accept a statement of basic principles, as a first step towards breaking the deadlock over Nagorno Karabakh’s future–but no agreement was reached.
With Nagorno-Karabakh a major election issue this year in Azerbaijan, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, who will be running for re-election in October, has been toughening his already bellicose position on the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, threatening to re-ignite war and take back the Armenian territory by force.
On March 4, Azeri Armed Forces violated the Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire line and opened fire on Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Army positions northeast of the Martakert Region, temporarily capturing a Karabakh defense position.
The attack, which was followed with protracted skirmishes throughout the month, was considered by Armenian officials and international mediators as unprecedented in its scale.
Azerbaijan has grown stronger and richer following the 2006 completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which Western companies developed to feed oil to Europe. The BTC, which circumvents Armenia, led to a more pro-Western Azerbaijan, and the tremendous new wealth it generated has helped the country increase its defense spending from $175 million in 2004 to more than $1 billion at the start of 2008.
On March 12 from official Baku applied to the OSCE’ secretariat for information on replacing the Minsk Group co-chairs.
Armenia has repeatedly voiced its support for a compromise solution through peaceful negotiations in the Minsk Group format. But with Azerbaijan threatening war and making diplomatic steps to remove the conflict from the watchful eye of international mediators, Armenian authorities are increasingly saying they will recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and sign military agreemen’s with it if Azerbaijan continues to try and remove the conflict from the Minsk Group format.
The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict escalated from a peaceful independence movement, which began in 1988, to a war in 1991 when Azeri armed forces, with the aid of Turkish and Mujahadin mercenaries began attacking Armenian villages in Nagorno-Karabakh following its declaration of independence. A Russian brokered cease-fire agreement in 1994 brought an end to major hostilities over Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in Armenian control of Nagorno-Karabakh and its seven surrounding districts.

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