18 Jul 2018 15:02

Aliyev expects Italy's active involvement as country holding OSCE presidency in Karabakh settlement

BAKU. July 18 (Interfax) - Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expects Italy to play an active role in settling the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Italy is currently holding presidency of the OSCE. We expect Italy to play an active role in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict," Aliyev said at a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Baku on Wednesday.

Baku is interested in the soonest possible settlement of the conflict based on international law and provided that Azerbaijan's territorial integrity is preserved, he said.

"The OSCE Minsk Group chair countries have repeatedly declared that the status quo is unacceptable. We support this position. It is necessary to take steps for the soonest settlement of the conflict and withdrawal of Armenian occupation troops from our historical lands," he said.

Mattarella said Italy, as the country holding the OSCE presidency, will make its contribution to solving problems in the region, including on the Karabakh conflict. "We want to preserve the existing format of the negotiations and find new ways of negotiations to ensure security in the region. In our opinion, this conflict should be resolved in a political way. A solution should be based on international law," he said.

Azerbaijan lost control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts following a conflict with the region's ethnic Armenian population and Armenia in the early 1990s.

Armenia and the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh republic on one side and Azerbaijan on the other concluded a ceasefire in May 1994.

The negotiation process is now being held via the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group, which was created in 1992 to look for ways to peacefully settle the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It comprises Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Turkey and is co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States.

Azerbaijan does not view the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh republic as a party to the conflict and refuses to hold negotiations with it.