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Nagorno Karabakh

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have had with the government of (i) Azerbaijan, (ii) Armenia, (iii) Russia, (iv) the US and (v) with the European Commission on (A) reported statements by Azeri President Ilham Aliev on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, (B) recent reports of armed clashes on 4 March 2008 and (C) possible initiatives in response to events in the region; and if he will make a statement. (197036)

The armed clashes on the line of contact between the Azerbaijani and Armenian forces, along with statements by the leadership of both Azerbaijan and Armenia, have been discussed extensively by our officials in Baku and Yerevan, in Vienna among the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) member states, in Brussels among EU partners and between officials in London and the Azerbaijan embassy. I sent a message to the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister urging that they do everything possible to calm the situation, including ensuring that the personal representative of the OSCE chairman in office to the Minsk Group is granted the necessary access to enable him and his staff to obtain clarity of the events of 4 March. Others including the US, the Finnish Foreign Minister, as the OSCE Chairman in Office, the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the EU have issued statements or sent messages urging restraint on both sides.

Officials will remain in close contact with all the relevant parties, including the mediators. We continue to urge all sides to calm the current tensions and to resume contacts leading towards a negotiated settlement, which remains the only way to secure a lasting, peaceful resolution of the dispute.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of the recent statements by Azeri President Ilham Aliev on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh; and if he will make a statement. (197083)

We are following closely the situation in Azerbaijan and Armenia following fighting along the Line of Contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces on 4 March, and have noted the statements made by both sides since the adoption of a resolution on the occupied territories of Azerbaijan, by the UN General Assembly, on 14 March.

We have seen some suggestions that one, or both of the parties, may withdraw from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group-facilitated negotiation process for a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The EU statement made at the UN on 14 March supported the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group, expressed support for all steps which contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and called upon all parties to avoid actions which heighten tensions. We will continue to impress upon the sides that there is no sustainable alternative to a peacefully negotiated solution.