Familiar Stance: Baku Condemns Karabakh Elections


17.05.10 | 12:49

Azerbaijan has condemned the planned parliamentary elections in
Nagorno-Karabakh, which it still considers to be its territory despite
the fact that the internationally unrecognized Armenian republic has
enjoyed de-facto independence since the early 1990s.

In a statement issued late last week Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs said the conduct of such elections, which are planned by
Stepanakert for May 23, will be "a gross violation of relevant
provisions of Azerbaijan’s Constitution and norms and principles of
international law."

"Elections conducted in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan
can be considered free and fair only if the expelled Azerbaijani
population returns to the region and takes a direct part in the vote
on equal terms with the Armenian population," the Azeri Ministry said.

Azerbaijan has regularly issued statements condemning the holding of
elections in Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly Armenian-populated region
of former Soviet Azerbaijan that broke free of Baku’s control
simultaneously with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A ceasefire in 1994 put an end to nearly three years of fighting
between Karabakh Armenians and Azerbaijan’s regular army and militia
in which an estimated 30,000 people were killed. By the time the
Russia-brokered ceasefire was signed, Armenia-backed Karabakh’s forces
had managed to establish control over seven districts of Azerbaijan
proper. They continue to control them as a security zone today.

The return of Azerbaijanis to the places of their former residence
in or near Karabakh is a key element of the peace plan proposed by
international mediators that leaders in Baku and Yerevan are currently
negotiating. The peace plan also provides for an Armenian withdrawal
from the territories currently controlled as the buffer zone and an
interim status for Karabakh providing guarantees for its security and
self-governance and a future determination of the region’s ultimate
legal status.