Minsk urges peaceful solution to Karabakh

Minsk urges peaceful solution to Karabakh

WASHINGTON - Agence France-Press
The United States, Russia and France yesterday urged Azerbaijan and Armenia to show the “political will” needed to find a lasting settlement to their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe issued the statement to mark the 20th anniversary of the formal request to convene a conference on the conflict. In a joint statement issued by the U.S. State Department, the three co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group said they “call upon the sides to demonstrate the political will needed to achieve a lasting and peaceful settlement.

“A new generation has come of age in the region with no first-hand memory of Armenians and Azeris living side by side, and prolonging these artificial divisions only deepens the wounds of war,” the statement said. “For this reason, we urge the leaders of the sides to prepare their populations for peace, not war,” according to the statement.

Armenian forces seized Nagorno-Karabakh and some surrounding territory from Azerbaijan during a war in the early 1990s that claimed an estimated 35,000 lives and forced about a million people on both sides to flee their homes. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but the two countries have cut direct economic and transport links and failed to negotiate a settlement on the status of the enclave.

But the joint statement said “progress toward peace has been made,” citing joint presidential statements from the Minsk group over the last three years outlining elements of a framework for a comprehensive peace settlement. The Minsk Group was created in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict. It is co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France.