Nagorno-karabakh con­flict high on agenda of EU en­voy's visit

Azer News - - ADVERTISEMENT - By Sara Ra­jabova

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.

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