25 September 2010 Azerbaijan is exacerbating the dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region with its “unabated war rhetoric, increased violations of the ceasefire regime and the unprecedented increase” of its military budget, the Foreign Minister of Armenia told the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate today.
Addressing the third day of the debate, Edward Nalbandian said the peace process for Nagorno-Karabakh – an autonomous region during Soviet times that is part of Azerbaijan’s territory but is occupied by Armenian forces – was moving forward through the mediation of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
But Mr. Nalbandian said Azerbaijan was attempting to mislead the international community about the nature of the dispute, “presenting the consequences of the conflict as it causes.”
He said the people of Nagorno-Karabakh had exercised their right to self-determination two decades ago.
“They fought for their right to freedom, withstanding the brutal war unleashed by Azerbaijan that was suppressing them for 70 years and attempting to cleanse them from their ancestral home. For that purpose, it even resorted to the use of mercenaries closely linked to international terrorist organizations.”
He also said that Azerbaijan was using money from oil revenues to fund military adventures.
“Azerbaijan continues to reject the proposals to sign an agreement on the non-use of force and threat of force, and the calls for the consolidation of the ceasefire. Thus, by its stance, Azerbaijan represents a threat to regional peace and security.”
He added that “Azerbaijan should refrain from its continuous attempts to shift the settlement process to other than the Minsk Group formats and frameworks and it should refrain from provocative and bellicose statements and actions so that the negotiation process could proceed in a more constructive and effective course.”
The Foreign Minister said Azerbaijanis had destroyed thousands of delicately carved cross stones in Nakhichevan that date back from the ninth to the 16th centuries.
“Thousands of these giant mediaeval sculptures were bulldozed under the Azerbaijani Government’s watchful eyes and this area was turned into a military ground in a Government-sanctioned operation.”
Today Mr. Nalbandian met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, with the two officials discussing the situation in the wider Southern Caucasus region.
Mr. Ban stressed the importance of peace and stability in the area and said the United Nations was prepared to help in any way it could, especially on the humanitarian front.
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