The withdrawal from other occupied regions around Nagorno Karabakh will be started immediately after the signing of peace agreement

Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers will discuss in Almaty the term of liberation of Lachin and Kelbajar regions.

The conflicting parties and the co-chair countries will establish a special committee to discuss the issue of possible status of Nagorno Karabakh.

Azerbaijan gives consent to the meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers within the informal summit of the OSCE foreign ministers in Almaty, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov told journalists, APA reports. He said the meeting has not been scheduled yet. “The meeting can take place on July 16 or a day later. The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs have not informed us yet about the schedule of the meeting”.

Elmar Mammadyarov reminded that after the Madrid proposals, Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents have held nine meetings since 2007 and Azerbaijani president accepted the Madrid principles renewed last year in general: “Azerbaijan expressed its willingness to work on a large agreement on the basis of these principles. But Armenia has not reacted to the renewed Madrid principles yet”.

The minister also reminded about the last meeting between the presidents in St Petersburg, Russia and said that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov advocated for approaching of the positions of both sides and reaching a common idea about the peace agreement. The minister mentioned the subjects of discussions as well. “We were hoping that the issue became a history. We agreed that Kelbajar and Lachin regions pass to the administrative control of the Azerbaijani government in the next five years. But Armenian side intends to continue the discussions on this issue. First of all I am expected to address this issue in Almaty. We and the co-chairs believe that there is an agreement on this issue. Kelbajar and Lachin have never been within the Nagorno Karabakh and therefore these regions together with other five regions must expressly pass to the administrative control of Azerbaijan. Our position is that five regions around Nagorno Karabakh should pass to our control in the first phase and Kelbajar and Lachin in the next five years in terms of security”.

The minister announced some points of the negotiations on liberation of Lachin and Kelbajar regions: “While being the president of Armenia, Robert Kocharian proposed to return the two regions ten years after, but Azerbaijan demanded to return those regions a year later after the signing of peace agreement. Serzh Sargsyan proposed seven years, but we demanded to do it within three years. The mediators proposed a common idea to withdraw Armenian troops from Lachin and Kelbajar and to return these regions to the administrative control of Azerbaijan five years later and Azerbaijan agreed on that. We believed that Armenia would also agree to solve the issue within five years. But following the presidents’ meeting in Sochi, Armenia raised the issue again in St Petersburg. Probably the issue will be discussed in Almaty too. It is very important for me to understand whether Armenia continues the negotiations only for the talks or it intends to reach a peace?”

Elmar Mammadyarov said Armenia raised the security issue of the Nagorno Karabakh’s Armenian community: “We are saying that members of the Armenian community are the citizens of Azerbaijan and their security should be ensured comprehensively like other citizens of the country. Certainly the security of Nagorno Karabakh’s Azerbaijani community should be ensured as well. We understand the Armenia’s intention from this point of view, but there is a thing we don’t understand – what do they want? Do they want to prolong the negotiations? It is unacceptable. Do they want to carry out any annexation plan? This is also an unacceptable issue. If Armenia wants to annex Nagorno Karabakh, it also can not be accepted. The main question is that – what do they want to reach peace or to extend a term?”

Answering the question about the term of liberation of five regions around the Nagorno Karabakh, Elmar Mammadyarov said Armenia must withdraw its troops from these regions immediately after the signing of a peace agreement. “The Armenian troops must leave these regions beginning as soon as the agreement is signed. It is expressly so and is not on the table now”.

Minister Mammadyarov also answered the question how the final status of the Nagorno Karabakh will be determined: “Armenia demands to hold a referendum, but Azerbaijan said that according to the Constitution the referendum could be held throughout the country. A special committee should be established to investigate opinion poll on the basis of the document which is on the table. Alongside with the representatives of Azerbaijan and Armenia, the co-chair countries will hold consensus discussions to determine how to solve the status issue. It will be in the next phase. It is not possible now democratically and legally. There was an ethnic cleansing in Nagorno Karabakh. It is not possible to hold referendum at the point of a Kalashnikov gun when the Azerbaijani community returns there. It needs to create democratic stability to give people an opportunity to express their ideas. We believe that the occupied territories of Azerbaijan will be liberated sooner or later. I have no doubts. The conflict is not solved only with the liberation of the occupied lands. Some issues like the status of Nagorno Karabakh, the opening of communications will remain. I can say that this is a process and it needs to start it and Armenian armed forces should leave the occupied territories for that”.