UNITED NATIONS (RFE/RL-Reuters)–Azerbaijan urged the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to intervene in a long and bitter territorial dispute with neighboring Armenia over the Mountainous Karabagh region.
But France–Russia–and the United States–which have been trying to resolve the dispute on behalf of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–asked the assembly to stay on the sidelines and not interfere with their efforts. Azerbaijan has repeatedly accused them of doing little to restore its control over Karabagh.
Talks "can only progress in an atmosphere of confidence between the parties. Anything in the direction of building confidence and of avoiding a division of the General Assembly is helpful," said US envoy Susan Moore–speaking on behalf of the OSCE initiative led by Paris–Moscow–and Washington.
Azerbaijan’s foreign minister–Elmar Mammadyarov–said his government had decided to take the issue to the General Assembly because Armenia was pursuing an "illegal settlement policy" by flooding the disputed area with Armenia’s–with an eye to annexing the enclave.
He called on the assembly to adopt a resolution affirming its "continued strong support" for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and the right of Azeri refugees to return to their former homes in the enclave.
The allegations were rebutted by Armen Martirosian–Armenia’s ambassador at the UN. He reportedly reiterated the Armenian position that the seven districts in Azerbaijan proper were occupied as a result of Azerbaijan’s attempts to win back Karabagh by force and that their return is conditional on a comprehensive peace accord. He also charged that Azerbaijan itself pioneered ethnic cleansing in the conflict by unleashing pogroms of its ethnic Armenian citizens in 1988-90.
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–for his part–warned on Tuesday that the passage of the pro-Azeri resolution would reverse progress which he said he and Mammadyarov made during peace talks earlier this year.
The assembly put off a vote on the draft resolution until an unspecified later date.