The working visit of the speaker of Azerbaijan's parliament, Sahiba Gafarova to Russia this week brought several issues of mutual interest under the spotlight, including the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In a meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, speaker Gafarova said the ongoing conflict continues to create serious obstacles to the development and security of the region.
"Azerbaijan is committed to a peaceful political settlement of the conflict. The settlement of the conflict should be carried out within the framework of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan on the basis of the UN Charter, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and the Helsinki Final Act," she said, according to the parliament's website.
"The recent absurd statements of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan that a compromise solution to the conflict can be discussed only if Azerbaijan recognizes the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination, thwart all the efforts of the world community to resolve the conflict peacefully," she said, adding Baku will never allow the creation of a second Armenian state in Azerbaijani soils.
Gafarova's remarks hinted at seven "conditions" drafted by Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in July. He called for strengthening the "joint security system" of Armenia and the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region, recognizing separatists as a party to talks, acknowledging the "self-determination right" of separatists. Authorities of Azerbaijan assessed it as an effort to stop, change, and distort the format of negotiations.
Minister Lavrov, in his turn, said that Russia, as the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, is supporting the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Moscow, according to the Russian minister, supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Following the meeting between Lavrov and Gafarova, Director of the Information and Press Department at Russia's Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova commented on its outcomes. During the meeting, the basic principles for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, implying including the solution of the status issues of Nagorno-Karabakh, the liberation of the territories around it, were discussed, according to her.
Minister Lavrov has earlier said that there is a project for a phased resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The first phase, according to him, addresses the liberation of some occupied districts around Nagorno-Karabakh and lifting the transport, economic and other communication blockades.
Meanwhile, PM Pashinyan instructed his foreign minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to spare no effort for securing a meeting with the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. Pashinyan is said to have tasked the Armenian embassy in Washington, the Armenian lobby, and communities in the US for this purpose. The embassy has reportedly allocated funds from the state budget for hiring American lobbyists, including former senator Bob Dole, as well.
The Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the world's and region's oldest conflicts. It has been jeopardizing regional security since the hostilities broke out in the early 1990s after Armenia launched a full-fledged military campaign against Azerbaijan. The rising anti-Azerbaijan sentiments in Armenia grew into armed intervention in Azerbaijan's internationally recognized borders following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
The bloody war in 1991-1994 resulted in Armenia occupying Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts, including Lachin, Kalbajar, Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Gubadli, and Zangilan. Azerbaijan faced a humanitarian crisis during the war, in which 30,000 of its citizens were killed, while one million others were displaced. Armenia has intensively been settling the occupied lands with ethnic Armenians. Today, there is no single ethnic Azerbaijani living in those occupied territories.
The UN Security Council's four resolutions demanding the immediate withdrawal of the occupying forces from the Azerbaijani lands go unfulfilled to date. The conflict remains to be at the risk of renewed war given the failure of political negotiations and regular ceasefire breaches by Armenia's troops. Over the past decade, major armed skirmishes between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops, including in April 2016 and in July 2020, have claimed dozens of lives on both sides.