Armenia responsible for illegal settlements

Thu 26 May 2011 03:50 GMT | 07:50 Local Time

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The Armenian government is responsible for settling people in occupied Azerbaijani territory, an Azerbaijani spokesman has said.

"Armenia’s government has responsibility for the illegal settlement process it conducted in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan because after the liberation of this land the fate of these people will be uncertain," Foreign Ministry spokesman Elkhan Polukhov told APA.

He was commenting on remarks by the prime minister of separatist Karabakh that some 300 families had been settled in Lachin District in the past six months.

The district is legally part of Azerbaijan and lies between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

Elkhan Polukhov said that the OSCE Minsk Group field assessment mission to the occupied territories in October 2010 had confirmed the illegal settlements on Azerbaijan's occupied land.

"Armenia is not only occupying Azerbaijani land and breaking international law, it is also pursuing a policy of illegal settlement in the occupied territories," Polukhov told APA.

The settlements further complicate the process of resolving the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Basic Principles for a solution to the conflict, put forward by the OSCE Minsk Group mediators, include the right of all internally displaced persons and refugees to return to their former places of residence. This would mean that Azerbaijanis displaced from Lachin District would return to their homes, homes that may now be occupied by Armenian settlers.

The Basic Principles also envisage a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. This corridor passes through Lachin at present and by settling Armenians in the district, the separatist authorities may be seeking to cement their claim to the corridor.

The conflict over Nagorn-Karabakh began in 1988 when Armenia made claims on the Azerbaijani territory. Armenian armed forces have occupied a swathe of Azerbaijani territory since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Laching District and six other districts.




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