“Russia is in favor of looking for mutually acceptable ways to solve the Karabakh conflict in accordance with the documents signed by the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs’ participation,” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow following his meeting with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandyan, APA’s Moscow correspondent reported.
He said that the meeting largely focused on the Karabakh theme and the necessity of creating conditions to speed up the negotiation process.
"Threatening to use force is unacceptable. It causes damage to the peace process. There is no alternative to the Minsk Group co-chairmanship format for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, if we are really committed to seeking a mutually acceptable solution. The leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia as well as those of international organizations have agreed to this. The co-chairs of the Minsk Group are not inactive. The latest statement adopted in Munich underscores the unacceptability of the use of force and military rhetoric," he said.
Lavrov also added that they will continue to make efforts to defuse the emotionally tense atmosphere surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh.
Nalbandian said that all expressed unanimous agreement in Munich as to the unacceptability of use of force as well as non-fulfillment of the ceasefire agreements signed in 1994 and 1995, and other agreements adopted in St. Petersburg and Vienna. According to him, the agreements reached in Astrakhan concerning an exchange of prisoners and the dead were also mentioned.
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 CSCE (OSCE after the Budapest summit held in Dec.1994) Ministerial Council in Helsinki on 24 March 1992. The Group’s members include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belarus, Finland and Sweden.
Besides, the OSCE Minsk Group has a co-chairmanship institution, comprised of Russian, the 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.