LISBON, (AFP) - Members of the Minsk Group -- the US, Russia and France -- charged with finding a solution to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh will meet here later this month, Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz announced Sunday.
The minister, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that a group from the organization was "very active on the ground" in the protection of human rights and the provision of humanitarian aid in the region, the Lusa news agency reported.
Moreover, the OSCE was trying to strengthen organizations in the region and to move forward from the stalemate which has prevailed in Nagorno-Karabakh since a cease-fire was imposed in 1994, Martins da Cruz said.
Both the OSCE and the European Union take the view that Azerbaijan should have no rights over the enclave which was annexed to the former Soviet republic in 1923.
Martins da Cruz also pointed out that the OSCE would continue its dialogue with Russia over the situation in the enclave and the subject would be discussed during his visit to Moscow on June 27.
Earlier Sunday, Azeri President Heydar Aliev said that the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia must be settled without either victors or vanquished and that Russia had a critical to play in resolving the situation in the region. "When you earlier came to Azerbaijan to help settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, you said that our goal was to solve conflicts without victors or vanquished," Aliev told Russian
President Vladimir Putin at the start of their meeting in Saint Petersburg, the Russian leader's native city.
"We think the settlement of conflicts in the Caucasus will particularly depend on Russia's role," Aliev added.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have been in an undeclared state of war over Nagorno Karabakh since the early 1990s when the republic's majority ethnic Armenians seized control during a bitter war. Fighting in the region killed over 30,000 people and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes before a 1994 ceasefire left the enclave with de facto independence and created a stalemate which the Minsk group is trying to break.