"The Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan welcomes the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Conference, the Head of the HLPG and the Personal Representative of the Chairman-in-Office on the Conflict Dealt with by the Minsk Conference back to the Permanent Council and thanks them for their statements. We also take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Andrew Schofer of the United States on his assumption of duties as a new co-chair.
We welcome the efforts of the Co-Chairmen aimed at reinvigorating the substantive, results-oriented talks. The summit of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, held in Geneva, on 16 October 2017, is the step in right direction. The meeting proved that attempts to precondition the resumption of substantive talks are doomed to failure. We generally positively assess the fact of the meeting and its outcome, as reflected in the joint statement. We expect undertaking practical steps by the Co-Chairmen with a view to intensifying the negotiations. However, continued unlawful practice by Yerevan on altering the demographic, cultural and physical character in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan demonstrates its systematic policy aimed at consolidating the occupation and imposing a fait accompli. Such steps by Armenia, including Armed provocations along the Line of Confrontation, undermine the peace efforts, and shall be comprehensively addressed by the OSCE Minsk Group and its Co-Chairmen. We urge the OSCE participating States to implement their commitments under international humanitarian law and human rights instruments to prevent and reverse illegal economic and other activities of their natural and legal persons, wherever located.
The UN Security Council resolutions, the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the decisions and documents of OSCE form the basis for the conflict resolution and for the Mandate of the Co-Chairmen of the Minsk Conference. If Armenia is genuinely interested in seeking a political solution to the conflict, then it must engage constructively in the conflict settlement process on this precise basis. To recall, the UN Security Council resolutions of 1993 called for immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan; as a reciprocal step, opening up communications and transportation links; assist to the return of the internally displaced persons to their homes; and convening of the OSCE Minsk Conference for the purpose of arriving at a negotiated settlement to the conflict, in conformity with the 24 March 1992 mandate of the CSCE Council of Ministers. The OSCE Budapest summit decision of 1994 reaffirmed the commitment of all OSCE participating States to these resolutions of the UNSC, and reiterated the step-by-step approach through tasking the mediators to conduct speedy negotiations for the conclusion of a political agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict, the implementation of which will eliminate major consequences of the conflict and permit the convening of the Minsk Conference.
The step-by-step approach for the conflict settlement has no alternative and remains the best chance for achieving a peace. The underlying concept of this approach is based on removing consequences of the conflict, which are identified in the UN Security Council resolutions, in particular starting with withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces, while deferring remaining political issues for future negotiations within the Minsk Conference. This approach is the main thrust and is at the core of the proposals currently on the negotiation table.
Statements of the high-level officials of Armenia before and immediately after the Geneva meeting raise questions as to real intensions of Yerevan. In this context, we expect the Co-Chairmen of the Minsk Group and the OSCE participating States to condemn pointless legalistic exercise by Armenia to justify secession of the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, and any effort to promote and propagate the illegal regime established in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. I wish to remind the Permanent Council that such attempts were denounced by the UN Security Council back in 1993. The Security Council reaffirmed inviolability of international borders of Azerbaijan, inadmissibility of the use of force for acquisition of territory and sovereignty of Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The OSCE Minsk Group, in its 1993 declaration, supported by the UN Security Council, emphasized that “[n]o acquisition of territory by force can be recognized, and the occupation of territory cannot be used to obtain international recognition or to impose a change of legal status” (UN Doc. S/26718). Armenia must understand and remember that neither Azerbaijan, nor the international community will ever recognize the results of unlawful occupation of territories and ethnic cleansing. No peace settlement of the conflict can be reached which violates the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and is inconsistent with international law. The military occupation of the territory of Azerbaijan does not represent a solution and will never produce a political outcome desired by Armenia.
We are pleased to note that throughout the year the HLPG took several initiatives for familiarizing itself with the current trends and developments in international peacekeeping, increasing its visibility both within the organization and vis-à-vis the outside relevant actors and exploring possibilities of enriching its peacekeeping options. Since its last appearance of Col. Lampalzer in his current capacity, we express our gratitude for his efforts throughout last two years in steering the work of the HLPG in an exemplary manner and wish him every success in his future endeavours. We remain of the view that the HLPG, as one of the three pillars of the OSCE dealing with the conflict, should be better integrated into overall peace process. HLPG’s participation in monitoring exercises along the Line of Confrontation is important to ensure its situational awareness and in this regard, we underline the necessity for granting equal access for all members of the Group to monitoring without any undue restrictions. We condemn attacks on and discrimination against the HLPG members on the ground of their nationality.
The Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office is an important element of the Minsk Process. We value the mandate of the Personal Representative to support activities of the Co-chairmen and the HLPG in discharging their mandate. We regret that the agreement reached in Summit meetings last year on the expansion of the Office of the PR CiO remained unimplemented due to the position of the Armenian side. Throughout the year, Armenia made consistent efforts to abuse the matter with a view to escaping from substantive negotiations on the settlement of the conflict, and to that end, distorted the essence of agreement introducing elements beyond the understanding and parameters agreed upon at the highest level. We remind that the expansion of the PR CiO Office was agreed with the understanding that this would not change the mandate and modus operandi of the Office and would be synchronized with the political process. As soon as Armenia abandons its efforts to introduce elements contrary to the above-mentioned understanding, Azerbaijan would be ready to engage into discussions on implementation of the said agreement. In conclusion, we once again thank the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Conference, the Head of the HLPG and the Personal Representative of the CiO for their reports and wish them every success their future endeavours.
Finally, since I have the floor, I would also like to exercise my right of reply to respond to the statement just delivered by the Delegation of the EU also on behalf of aligned countries. We seek explanation as to what extent the EU position just delivered corresponds to the statements of high-level EU officials, who on numerous occasions, both in Baku and Brussels, expressed their strong support to the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Azerbaijan. Similar position was expressed on many occasions by the leaders of EU member-States to our senior officials, which has also been reflected in writing in bilateral partnership agreements signed with some individual member-States. Discrepancy observed between the position of the EU officials, its member-States and aligned countries conveyed to the Head of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan on one hand and on the other the statement that we just heard here, may create an impression that the concerned Delegations are either unaware of the statements of their superiors or this is just a manifestation of double-standards applied by them in the OSCE, since this is not for the first time we see such statements. We encourage the EU Delegation and aligned countries, which are not player or actor in the conflict resolution to engage into dialogue with our Delegation here in the OSCE on the above-mentioned point. Such a dialogue could clarify many things ahead of important meetings planned in Brussels and in Vienna in coming days and month."
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict entered its modern phase when the Armenian SRR made territorial claims against the Azerbaijani SSR in 1988.
A fierce war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. As a result of the war, Armenian Armed Forces occupied some 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory which includes Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts (Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Zangilan), and over a million Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced people.
The military operations finally came to an end when Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in Bishkek in 1994.
Dealing with the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is the OSCE Minsk Group, which was created after the meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Helsinki on 24 March 1992. The Group’s members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, the United States, France, Poland, Germany, Turkey, Belarus, Finland and Sweden.
Besides, the OSCE Minsk Group has a co-chairmanship institution, comprised of Russian, US and French co-chairs, which began operating in 1996.
Resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884 of the UN Security Council, which were passed in short intervals in 1993, and other resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly, PACE, OSCE, OIC, and other organizations require Armenia to unconditionally withdraw its troops from Nagorno-Karabakh.
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