Mon, 22 Jul 2019

European Council President Donald Tusk says the European Union believes the only way to resolve a decades-old dispute between Baku and Yerevan over Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh is through "a political settlement in accordance with international and principles."

Tusk made the remarks after meeting in Baku on July 9 with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

"The EU supports Azerbaijan's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity," Tusk said. "Referring to stability in the region, we also discussed the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. There is no military solution."

For his part, Aliyev declared that his talks with Tusk have resulted in "a new level" of partnership since the European Council president's last visit in 2015.

"I am confident that we will continue developing our partnership positively in the coming years," Aliyev said. "It is in the interests of Azerbaijan."

Nagorno-Karabakh, a region populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Since 1994, it has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces.

Baku says those forces include troops and weaponry supplied by Armenia.

The region's claim to independence has not been formally recognized by any country.

Tusk said the EU appreciates an overall decrease of tensions between Azerbaijan and ethnic-Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.

But he said the EU is concerned about recent casualties along the line of contact where Azerbaijani and ethnic-Armenian forces are deployed.

"Restraint is important and so are measures to restore an atmosphere conducive to peace and favorable to productive talks," Tusk said.

Internationally mediated negotiations involving the OSCE's Minsk Group helped forge a cease-fire in the region.

But the cease-fire is not always honored, and mediation efforts have failed to produce a lasting settlement to the conflict.

With reporting by Interfax

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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