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03/15/08

Azerbaijan Criticizes France, Russia, U.S Over Karabakh Resolution

Source: RFE/RL

Azerbaijan has warned that Baku will re-examine its relations with France, Russia and the United States after the three countries voted against a UN motion on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The UN General Assembly on March 14 adopted a non-binding resolution demanding the "immediate, complete and unconditional" withdrawal of all Armenian forces from Azerbaijan's territory.

Thirty nine countries voted in favor. But more than 100 countries abstained. Seven countries, however, including Russia, the United States, and France, voted against.

The three countries are co-chairs of the Minsk Group, which is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They argued that as mediators, they had to remain neutral.

In a statement released on March 15, the Russian foreign ministry criticized the resolution, saying that its "basic principles...meet only the interests of Azerbaijan."

Speaking to reporters in Baku, Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said Moscow, Paris, and Washington "have put themselves in a difficult situation." Azimov added that "the UN resolution is a serious message to Armenia and a warning for the co-chairs. We will cooperate with them on the basis of their position in the UN General Assembly."

Meanwhile, on March 13, Armenia's Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan said president-elect Serzh Sarkisian was prepared to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to discuss the Karabakh conflict. Oskanyan said France, Russia, and the United States were trying to arrange the meeting, which could happen at the NATO summit in Bucharest in April.

Yerevan and Baku have given conflicting reports about a clash that erupted in Nagorno-Karabakh in early March. Armenia said eight people were killed, while Azerbaijan said the number was 20.

Armenian forces seized control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions from Azerbaijan in the early 1990s, in a war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and forced about a million people to flee their homes.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces since a 1994 ceasefire.

(RFE/RL's Russian Service contributed to this report. Materials from news agencies was used in this report)


Copyright (c) 2008 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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