Azerbaijani, French Leaders Hold Thorough Talks on Nagorno-Karabakh Settlement
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had a detailed discussion with his French counterpart Francois Hollande on the issue of settling the conflict in Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, the president's press service said Wednesday.
The violence in Nagorno-Karabakh flared up on April 2 last year. Baku and Yerevan accused each other of provoking hostilities that led to multiple deaths on each side. The sides agreed to a ceasefire on April 5, but clashes have continued.
"A meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and France took place in Paris, in the Elysee Palace… A detailed exchange of opinions on settling the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict took place," the press service said in a statement.
Aliyev also addressed the issue while speaking to reporters after the close of the meeting, stressing that Armenia, which Azerbaijan considers to be occupying the region's territory, should resume talks and move away from the status quo.
"The UN Security Council adopted four resolutions on this conflict, which state that Armenian forces must immediately and unconditionally pull out of the occupied territories… Armenia is apparently not interested in fulfilling these resolutions. So talks must resume to start with. Armenia should not shy away from talks," the president said, as quoted in the statement.
The Azerbaijani leader went on to state that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States, had stated that the current status-quo of the region, under which it is de-facto independent, was unacceptable and that expelled Azerbaijanis should be allowed to return home.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh began in 1988, when the autonomous region sought to secede from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, before proclaiming independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The warring sides agreed to a cessation of hostilities in 1994.