Azeri Foreign Minister Meets Council of Europe Official, Discusses Karabakh

BAKU (Armenpress)–Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mamedyarov met Monday in Baku with Slovakian Foreign Minister and rotating Chairman of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Jan Kubis to discuss bilateral relations, transport, energy, and the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict settlement process.
"Our position is that this conflict be settled based on the principles of the international law," Jan Kubis was quoted by Trend news agency as saying after the talks to journalists.
He said the next presidential election in Azerbaijan, slated for October, will demonstrate the scale of democracy in this country. The Council of Europe is prepared to continue its help to Baku to advance democracy, Kubis added.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a major election issue for Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s reelection campaign. The Azeri President has been using the conflict to divert attention from the country’s worsening democratic and human rights record by toughening his already bellicose position on the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, threatening to re-ignite war and take back the Armenian territory by force.
In an interview later in the day with Trend news agency Mamedyraov said his first meeting with new Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian will give him an opportunity to understand the new Armenian leadership’s position over the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Mamedyarov and Edward Nalbandian are slated to have their maiden meeting on May 6 in Strasbourg, a day before the recurrent meeting of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
Memedyarov insisted that the status of Nagorno-Karabakh must not violate Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and any talks on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh’s are only possible after all Azerbaijani regions are ‘liberated’ and all refugees are allowed to return to their homes.
But Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, earlier in April told reporters that Azerbaijan must accept that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is an independent republic that will never be returned to Azeri control, as its independence is irreversible.
Despite the fact that Nagorno-Karabakh has, since 1991, been a de-facto an independent state with a democratically elected President and Parliament, it has not yet gained recognition by any state due to increasing threats by Azerbaijan of renewed war in the region if Karabakh independence is recognized.
"We hope that Armenia has a constructive approach and that it realizes that the only possible solution must be based on international laws," Memedyarov said.
Armenia, however, has repeatedly voiced its support for a compromise solution through peaceful negotiations through the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been working for a peaceful resolution of the conflict since 1997.
But with Azerbaijan threatening war with its bolstered military 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.
During a conference on this issue held in Baku in early April, Azeri Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said official Baku would like to see other members of the OSCE Minsk Group, such as Turkey, become more involved in the negotiation process. Turkey, which is a political and military ally of Azerbaijan, maintains a total blockade of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and conditions its lifting of the embargo on Armenia’s renunciation of support for Karabakh’s independence.
Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiyev met on Monday with the Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Khulus Kylic to discuss regional issues and the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.

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