Returning of Lachin and Kalbajar regions will be mulled next week

The Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers will discuss the release of the Lachin and Kalbajar regions to Azerbaijan as part of the first stage of the OSCE Foreign Ministerial Council in Almaty, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov told journalists today.
«The meeting will be held July 16 or 17. The OSCE co-chairs have not given any specific dates,» he added.
Mammadyarov said talks are underway with Armenia on the basis of the updated Madrid principles.
«We have repeatedly discussed some of these principles in the past six years and now it makes no sense to get back to them,» Mammadyarov said.
At a meeting between Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents Ilham Aliyev and Serzh Sargsyan in January in Sochi, the OSCE Minsk Group presented the parties with an updated version of the Madrid document, which is the basis for today’s talks.
Having already adopted the Madrid principles, Baku has yet to receive information from the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on Yerevan’s position.
According to Mammadyarov, the talks will focus on returning the Lachin and Kalbajar regions to Azerbaijan.
«Historically the Lachin and Kalbajar regions were never part of Nagorno Karabakh. Today, the issue is the return of these two regions,» Mammadyarov said.
He added that the issue of returning the remaining five regions has already been resolved and will be no longer be discussed.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group — Russia, France, and the United States — are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council’s four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and the occupied territories.
Regarding status of the Nagorno-Karabakh, Mammadyarov noted that the Armenian side stand for holding a referendum, but Azerbaijan’s position is that the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh must take part in the voting together with the Armenians.
Mammadyarov said a special committee of representatives from Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries will be established under the principles that are now being discussed between the parties. The committee will develop questions of the referendum ballots. However, this is possible only after the return of IDPs to the Nagorno-Karabakh, he said.