There is a need to help realize a peaceful settlement to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict based upon internationally agreed-upon principles, said the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Robert Cekuta.
Cekuta made the remarks during the monthly farewell luncheon organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Azerbaijan (AmCham), dedicated to the completion of his diplomatic mission in the country.
“We need to know the persistent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the need to help realize a peaceful settlement based upon internationally agreed-upon principles,” said the ambassador.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
Further, Cekuta noted that Azerbaijan’s geographic reality with all of its challenges is something that gives the country opportunities, as well as international importance.
Because of its geography, Azerbaijan is a critical component of the Northern Distribution Network, a vital transport channel providing access to and out of Afghanistan, he added.
He said that Azerbaijan has an important role to play showing the world an example of a secular Muslim state, showing an example of interethnic and interreligious tolerance.
Noting that this year the country will mark the centennial of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, Cekuta pointed out that it was the first Muslim country to recognize women’s right to vote and to participate in the legislature and government.