Azerbaijan Threatening Regional Peace, Warns Armenian Foreign Minister

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Following two separate incidents of a ceasefire violation by Azeri border guards that left two villagers in the northeastern Armenian village of Chinar dead last week, Armenia’s Foreign Minister on Monday reaffirmed his country’s commitment to a just and peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, warning that a renewal of hostilities by Azerbaijan would have dire consequences for the entire region.

The recent attacks against Armenia’s civilian population in Chinar, which left two villagers dead are the latest developmen’s in a long list of ceasefire violations by an increasingly bellicose Azerbaijan, which is seeking the complete deterioration of the situation on the ground, Nalbandian told Armenpress.

“I believe that all these attempts, including a series of major violations in the Martakert region of Nagorno Karabakh in early March, the persistent refusal, since April, to return four Armenian citizens, the murder of an Armenian serviceman in the province of Tavush, and now the killing of two civilians in Chinari village, endanger the peace process,” Nalbandian remarked.

Azerbaijan’s latest attempts to derail the peace process must be harshly condemned because any attempt at a military solution, he warned, would have unpredictable consequences for the entire region.

“One wonders whether Azerbaijan’s real goal is to create additional obstacles to the continuation of the peace talks,” he added, pointing to growing deman’s by a number of Azerbaijani NGOs to stop the negotiations.

Earlier in June, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held what officials described as "constructive" talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg. Both Nalbandian and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov, who were at the meeting, said the talks were “constructive” and positive,” while the OSCE Minsk Group’s American co-chair US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza similarly appeared to be satisfied with the meeting, which international mediators hoped would kick start the stalled negotiations process.

However, while Azerbaijan has officially declared its support of the Minsk Group negotiation process, it has simultaneously been trying to distort the essence of the conflict and remove it from the auspices of the OSCE’s mediation, Nalbandian said, noting the serious impediment to the resolution of the conflict posed by Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian propaganda.

In recent months, Azerbaijan has been working with renewed zeal in the to gain recognition for its so-called territorial integrity by a number of international bodies, including the United Nations. It has also been raising allegations in the Minsk Group and the Council of Europe against Armenia’s position regarding Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process, claiming that an “Armenian occupation of Azeri lands” hampers the peace process.

“The militaristic propaganda and continuous threats of a likely renewal of military hostilities being voiced at the highest level in Azerbaijan contradicts the main principles of international law, the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, which was the OSCE’s founding document,” the Foreign Minister explained.

These developmen’s raise very serious concerns and must be denounced, Nalbandian stressed.

Armenia is determined to continue negotiations in the framework of OSCE Minsk Group in order to achieve a final resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict,” Minister Nalbandian stated.

But any peace process will fail unless the mediators address the core essence of the conflict, which is the recognition and exercise of the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh for self-determination, he explained.

According to Nalbandian, Armenia believes that the resolution of conflict must be based on the following principles: Nagorno Karabakh cannot be under the authority of Azerbaijan; it must have a permanent land link to Armenia, under the jurisdiction of Armenian; and the security of the population of Nagorno Karabakh must be guaranteed.

An acceptance of these principles and their assertion within the peace agreement, Nalbandian asserted, would be accepted by the government of Karabakh and would provide for a just and complete settlement of the conflict.

The conflict can only be settled through peaceful means, he said, adding that the negotiations cannot continue in a constructive manner while Azerbaijan continues to create additional tension and obstacles to the peace process.

If peace is to be achieved, an environment of confidence must be established, Nalbandian stressed.

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