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Foreign Ministry: Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to be priority issue on agenda during Ukraine's chairmanship at OSCE

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Sept. 4, 2012, 4:45 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

A view dated 18 June 2000 shows the graves of two Armenian fighters in a cemetery in Stepanakert, the capital of the disputed Azerbaijan territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave that was the scene of ethnic conflict from February 1988 to May 1994, when the Soviet Union collapsed. A six-year war of secession by the Armenian majority left more than 30,000 dead. 18 June was the third parliamentary election since Nagorny-Karabakh declared its independence, which has not been recognized by the international community.
© AFP

Ukraine is concerned about the strained atmosphere in relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and is calling on the countries to seek mutual understanding.

"We realize that this conflict undermines stability in post-Soviet territory, in the CIS, and in the OSCE. And we, as a country located close to them, wish that both of the sides to be guided by rational arguments, and not emotions. They should not disrupt the negotiation process they've been holding in previous years," the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's information policy department, Oleh Voloshyn, told journalists in Kyiv on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

According to him, there is excessive tension in relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Voloshyn also said that there are enough instruments in the international law to find a mutually acceptable solution provided that the sides want to find it.

The diplomat added that mutual international animosity should not prevail between the two countries.

Voloshyn also said Ukraine has good relations with both Azerbaijan and Armenia, and it will do everything possible to settle the conflict. In particular, the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be a priority issue on the agenda during Ukraine's chairmanship of the OSCE.

The diplomat mentioned that Ukraine has energy-related interests in the region, in particular it is interested in oil and gas supplies from Azerbaijan, thus, Ukraine is interested in there being a peaceful and stable atmosphere in both countries.

The issue of Armenia's need to officially recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh was raised at the end of last week, when Hungary extradited to Azerbaijan Ramil Safarov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006 for the murder of an Armenian officer.

In 2004, Safarov killed Armenian officer Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest. The servicemen were visiting Budapest to participate in a NATO-sponsored course to study English. The murder was committed in a dormitory for students of the course.

At his trial, Safarov said that he committed the murder to take revenge for the Azerbaijanis that were killed by Armenians and that had to become refugees during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Later on, he changed his evidence and said that he killed the Armenian officer because he allegedly insulted the Azerbaijani flag.

In addition, by initiative of the secretary of the Heritage parliamentary faction at the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, Zaruhi Postanjyan, a bill on the recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was submitted for consideration by the parliament.

The Nagorno-Karabakh War started in 1988 following the declaration by Nagorno-Karabakh, which was populated mostly by Armenians, of its intention to separate from Azerbaijan.

On December 10, 1991 a referendum was held in Nagorno-Karabakh, during which 99.89% of the population supported complete independence of their territory from Azerbaijan.

An armed conflict was initiated by Azerbaijan and lead to its loss of control over Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as seven more areas.

On May 12, 1994 a trilateral armistice agreement took effect and the war ended. Around 25,000-30,000 people from each side were killed during the war, and around a million people had to leave their homes.

Negotiations on a peaceful settlement of the conflict have been held since 1992 by the OSCE's Minsk Group, co-chaired by the United States, Russia, and France.

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