UN calls for Armenia’s pullout from Nagorno-Karabakh

Agence France Presse
March 14, 2008 Friday 7:30 PM GMT

UN calls for Armenia’s pullout from Nagorno-Karabakh


The UN General Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution demanding the
"immediate, complete and unconditional" withdrawal of all Armenian
forces from all of Azerbaijan’s occupied lands but 100 countries

Thirty-nine countries voted in favor of the resolution sponsored by
Azerbaijan while seven, including Russia, the United States and
France, cast no votes and another 100 abstained.

Russia, the United States and France are co-chairs of the Minsk
Group, which was created in 1992 by the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe to bring about a peaceful resolution of the
dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The three countries argued that as mediators they had to remain
neutral and could not support a "unilateral" resolution.

The resolution reaffirmed "continued respect and support for the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan" and again made
clear that "no state shall recognize as lawful the situation
resulting from the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan, nor
render aid or assistance in maintaining this situation."

It further upheld the "inalienable right of the population expelled
from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan to return to their homes
and stresses the necessity of creating appropriate conditions for
this return."

Azerbaijan’s UN envoy Agshin Mehdiyev accused Armenia of trying to
"solidify the results of (its) aggression and ethnic cleansing.

He expressed alarm at "the lack of clear proposals" from the Minsk
Group co-chairs regarding the "liberation of all the occupied
territories and the return of the Azerbaijani population to

But his Armenian counterpart, Armen Martirosyan, dismissed the
resolution as "a wasted attempt to predetermine the outcome of peace

"The co-chairs (of the Minsk Group), the fair-minded and responsible
mediators in this conflict, have found this resolution does not help
the peace talks," he noted.

France’s UN Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said while his country, as
co-chair of the Minsk Group, voted against the text, it however was
in full agreement with the position expressed by Slovenia on behalf
of the 27-member European Union (EU).

The EU said in a statement that the "Minsk Group should retain the
lead in settling the Nagorno Karabakh conflict."

"The EU calls on the parties concerned to avoid any actions which
could lead to heightened tensions and which could undermine the
ongoing mediation efforts," it added.

Nagorno-Karabakh seceded from Azerbaijan in 1991, precipitating a
full-blown war between the former Soviet republic and its neighbor

The conflict claimed some 25,000 lives before ending with a ceasefire
in 1994. The territory’s status remains unsettled, despite years of
diplomatic talks.