EU asked to help resolve territorial dispute in the Caucasus

EU asked to help resolve territorial dispute in the Caucasus

EUbusiness, UK
May 18 2004

Azerbaijan asked the European Union on Tuesday to help find a
solution to its territorial dispute with Armenia which has eluded
other international mediators for a decade.

President Ilham Aliyev told reporters that “Azerbaijan is very strongly
interested that other important European organisations, first of all
the EU, take a more active stand” in helping to end the dispute over
the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Aliyev had earlier met Romano Prodi, the president of the EU
Commission, who said he was “worried” that there had been no moves
towards peace since the two former Soviet republics signed a ceasefire
to end a bloody war 10 years ago last week.

The five-year war claimed 35,000 lives and forced one million people
to flee their homes, according to independent estimates.

It also left the 4,400-square-kilometre (1,700-sq-mile) enclave —
about five percent of the area of Azerbaijan — in Armenian hands,
together with seven adjoining Azeri districts and a land corridor
to Armenia.

Both Aliyev and Prodi said that any initiative involving the EU
should complement and not replace the efforts of the Minsk Group,
a a 13-nation body set up to mediate and co-chaired by the United
States, Russia and France.

“The Minsk group has a mandate from the OSCE (the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe) and nobody is going to question
that mandate,” Aliyev said.

But, he said, “if we consider ourselves as a part of Europe… the
occupation of the territory of one country must be stopped.”

The newly enlarged EU has adopted what it calls a “neighborhood
policy” towards Azerbaidjan, Armenia and Georgia, the third former
Soviet republic in the Caucasus.