Nagorno-karabakh conflict high on agenda of EU envoy's visit
European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus Philippe Lefort has visited Azerbaijan to discuss the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict settlement and the development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU.
During the visit, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received the EU envoy and the accompanying delegation. They exchanged views on the current state of Azerbaijan- EU cooperation, the negotiations aiming to settle the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict and the problem of Azerbaijani refugees.
The same day, the EU envoy met with Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev. Military and political situation in the region and the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict were on the agenda at the meeting.
Hosting the delegation headed by Lefort on July 26, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said Armenia must first withdraw its armed forces from the occupied Azerbaijani territories to move the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict settlement from deadlock.
Mammadyarov spoke about the current state of the negotiations on resolving the ArmenianAzerbaijani conflict, recent meetings and once again informed the EU officials about Azerbaijan's position related to the prospects for a just settlement of the longstanding conflict.
It was stressed at the meeting that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement will contribute to the development of the entire region.
The EU envoy, for his part, informed his interlocutors about his recent visit to the region and his meetings with officials.
Lefort stressed that the EU is interested in developing the region and maintaining stability.
According to Lefort, the EU attaches great importance to the development of bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan in various fields.
Also, the same day, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the State Committee for Refugees and IDPs Ali Hasanov met with the delegation led by the EU envoy. The parties discussed prospects for bilateral cooperation, as well as the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict.
Hasanov provided an insight into the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict` s history at the meeting.
He highlighted the Azerbaijani government's efforts to solve the social problems facing refugees and IDPs.
Hasanov noted that a total of $5.4 billion has been spent for the solution of the social problems of refugees and internally displaced persons so far, including on the construction of 78 state- of- theart residential areas for nearly 150,000 refugees and IDPs.
He said the government has drawn up a program of Great Return of IDPs to Karabakh.
In turn, Lefort said the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was a source of danger not only to Azerbaijan, but also for the whole region.
He expressed the EU's readiness to assist in finding a solution to the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict.
Recently, Lefort visited the Armenian capital Yerevan where he discussed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with President Serzh Sargsyan and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.
During the meeting with the Armenian president Lefort confirmed the EU's support for the OSCE Minsk Group, which is mediating the settlement of the conflict.
Also, in June, the EU envoy visited Azerbaijan and discussed the development of cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU, as well as the prospects for the talks on the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict with the country's officials.
Lefort said the conflict is a very important issue for the EU and the organization respects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
The Nagorno- Karabakh conflict emerged in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan, its South Caucasus neighbor. The two countries fought a lengthy war that ended with the signing of a fragile ceasefire in 1994. Armenian armed forces have since occupied over 20 percent of Azerbaijan's internationally recognized territory, including NagornoKarabakh and seven adjacent regions. Armenia has not yet implemented the U. N. Security Council's four resolutions on a pullout from the occupied territories.
Russia, France and the U.S. have long been working to broker a solution of the NagornoKarabakh conflict through the Minsk Group, but their efforts have been largely fruitless so far.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received European Union Special Representative for the South Caucasus Philippe Lefort and the accompanying delegation on July 26.