BAKU (Armenpress)–Baku is working to prevent Russia from establishing relations with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Khazar Ibrahim, a spokesperson for the Azeri Foreign Ministry told reporters on Monday.
"Azerbaijan supports fully the territorial integrity of Georgia and condemns any move that runs counter to it," Ibrahim said during a press briefing. Ibrahim’s remarks come amid the backdrop of threats by Russia to forge official relations with Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Osetia.
Official Baku condemns any move that questions Georgia’s territorial integrity, Ibrahim said, adding that his government would not allow similar steps to be made in regards to Nagorno-Karabakh.
"We do not think that after establishing formal ties with Abkhazia and South Ossetia Russia may establish similar relationships with the leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh," he said.
"We are not waiting for this to happen and today we are already working to prevent it," he added.
Referring to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Ibrahim said that there are three countries in the South Caucasus and there is no place for the fourth one.
According to him, the status of Nagorno-Karabakh can be established only within the frameworks of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian last week told reporters that Azerbaijan must accept that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is an independent republic that will never be returned to Azeri control.
"Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible," he said. "It is impossible to even imagine that the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh could be subordinate in any way to Azerbaijan," he said.
"The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have won their right to a free and independent life. And through our efforts, that right must be recognized by the international community," the Armenian President added.
Nagorno-Karabakh has been a de-facto independent state since it declared independence from Soviet Azerbaijan in 1991. The historic Armenian territory has functioned with a democratically elected President and Parliament for more than a decade but it has not yet gained recognition by any other state, including neighboring Armenia.
Azerbaijan has been threatening to attack the republic with its growing military arsenal while stepping up diplomatic efforts to remove the Karabakh Conflict from international mediation by the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been working for a settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1997.
But with Azerbaijan threatening war and making diplomatic steps to remove the conflict from the watchful eye of international mediators, Armenian authorities are increasingly saying they will recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and sign military agreemen’s with it.
In related news, last week, the EU’s foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana expressed concern over Russia’s apparent intention to establish formal relationships with Georgia’s breakaway regions.
Meanwhile, a representative of the US Department of State, Sean McCormack told journalists in Washington that George W. Bush’s administration also supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and its sovereignty.
NATO is also “deeply concerned” by a Russia’s announcement that it will formalize its ties with Georgia’s pro-Russian separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Wednesday.
In the meantime Georgia has been calling on the international community to counter Russia’s decision to establish formal relationships with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.