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Armenia Insists On Karabakh’s Self-Determination


Armenia -- Newly appointed Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian, November 19, 2020.

The recent Armenian-Azerbaijani war did not end the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and the disputed territory’s predominantly ethnic Armenian population must still be able to exercise its right to self-determination, Foreign Minister Ara Ayvazian said on Thursday.

“The Azerbaijani side’s claims that the conflict has already been resolved are unfounded,” Ayvazian told the Armenpress news agency.

“The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be deemed settled only when the international community recognizes the right to self-determination exercised by the people of Artsakh (Karabakh),” he said.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said that the six-week war, which resulted in sweeping Azerbaijani territorial gains, essentially resolved the long-running conflict. Aliyev said last month that Baku insists on a full restoration of its control over Karabakh and will not even agree to grant the enclave an autonomous status.

Ayvazian said that Aliyev’s remarks run counter to the “essence” of the Russian-brokered ceasefire agreement that stopped the war on November 10. Citing the agreement and recent statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, he insisted that “the question of Artsakh’s final status is not resolved and will be the subject of further negotiations.”

“The two other OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries also agree on this issue,” the recently appointed minister added, referring to the United States and France.

Ayvazian is scheduled to visit Moscow next week for what will be his first talks with Russian Foreign Sergei Lavrov.

Later on Thursday, Lavrov, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to “take advantage of the current ceasefire to negotiate a lasting and sustainable peace agreement.”

“In that context, the Co-Chair countries urge the parties to receive the Co-Chairs in the region at the earliest opportunity and to commit to substantive negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues in accordance with an agreed timetable,” they said in a joint statement.

Lavrov, Le Drian and Beigun also urged the conflicting parties to fully comply with provisions of the ceasefire agreement, including the exchange of prisoners of war and repatriation of the remains of soldiers killed in action.

“They also call for the full and prompt departure from the region of all foreign mercenaries, and call upon all parties to facilitate this departure,” added their statement.

In line with the truce agreement, Russia has deployed about 2,000 peacekeeping troops along the current Karabakh “line of contact” and a road connecting the enclave to Armenia. They are due to stay there for at least five years.

The agreement says that the peacekeeping operation can be repeatedly extended by five more years if Armenia and Azerbaijan do not object to that. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian suggested on November 25 such an extension is inevitable.

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