UNITED NATIONS (AP/Reuters/AFP) - The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other's governments on Sunday of "delusional manipulation" in their long running dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
"What the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and whole region are still waiting for is lasting peace," Armenia's Vartan Oskanian told the UN General Assembly.
"Azerbaijan has a choice: To continue with crude delusional manipulation and naive wishful thinking" or join in international efforts to resolve the dispute peacefully, Oskanian said. "The men, women and children of Nagorno-Karabakh have earned the right to live peacefully on their historic lands."
Speaking earlier, Azerbaijan's Vilayat Guliev accused Armenia of trying "to camouflage its annexationist policy by appeals to the principle of the right of peoples to self-determination." Guliev said the right to self-determination does not imply the right of secession and should not lead to the disintegration of sovereign and independent states.
The failure of Armenia and Azerbaijan to settle the conflict has stifled the economies of both struggling former Soviet republics. Potential investors worry there could be another war over the enclave and regional trade has been disrupted by the closure of the Azerbaijan-Armenia border.
In his speech, Guliev also accused the UN Security Council of having created an “explosive situation” by failing to implement resolutions aimed at resolving the long-simmering territorial dispute. "Azerbaijan sees an urgent necessity for a new, resolute intervention by the U.N. Security Council which so far has not used its potential to effectively contribute to the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict," he said.
The Azerbaijani minister further reiterated Baku’s condemnation of recent presidential elections held in Karabakh, saying: "Decisions taken by the illegal separatist regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, so-called referendums and elections held by it... have no international legal effect."
Oskanian, addressing the world body a few hours after Guliev, said the Azerbaijani's remarks had left him "shocked (and) also dismayed." Oskanian said Armenia has done "exactly what the international community expected: Used its good offices with the leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh to help find a peaceful solution to the conflict." The Karabakh Armenians deserve to be "commended for adopting the rule of law, despite continuing adverse social and economic conditions," he added.
The latest bitter exchange between the two Caucasus foes came a month and a day after the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held a four-hour summit, their first meeting for a year. President Robert Kocharian and his Azeri counterpart, Heydar Aliev, told reporters after the meeting -- held in Azerbaijan -- that the mood was good, although they achieved no breakthrough on the dispute.