"According to the mass media reports Bako Saakyan, the so-called “leader” of the separatist regime created in the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia traveled to the United States of America. Entering of the “representative” of illegal regime to the USA and allowing the promotion of the separatist regime in the US contradicts the commitments of this state as the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, as well as the numerously stated official position of the United States on non-recognition of the separatist regime. This step also damages the negotiation process over the settlement of the conflict," the statement reads.
The ministry said that providing of visa by the United States to the representatives of the separatist regime raises serious questions about the visa procedures of the USA.
“It is very strange that the liberalization of the US government’s approach to visa issuance is applied only to the “leadership” of the separatist regime created in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and not other illegal entities of the former Soviet Union."
"Individual sanctions should be applied with regard to such war criminals, persons involved in the occupation of the Azerbaijani territories and ethnic cleansing of the hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis," the ministry said.
"Such steps serving to promotion of the illegal separatist regime raise questions on sincerity of the USA in its relations with Azerbaijan. Strong protest of Azerbaijan will be presented to the US through diplomatic channels," the statement reads.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.