President of the European Union (EU) Council Donald Tusk said on Monday that a peaceful resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh problem between Armenia and Azerbaijan remains a priority for which the EU would support high level talks between the parties.
"The peaceful resolution of this conflict remains a priority for the European Union. The European Union supports the negotiations aimed at settling the conflict,” Tusk said during a conference held in Yerevan, the Armenian capital.
"We support further dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including at the highest level," Tusk added.
Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and some adjacent territory have been under the control of Armenian soldiers and local Armenian forces since a 1994 Russian-mediated cease-fire that ended the six-year war between the parties.
Since then Azerbaijan and Armenia have been hostile to one another due to the occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh oblast.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also emphasised the importance of solving the Nagorno-Karabakh problem on Saturday when he met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mamedyarov in Moscow.
Lavrov stated that Russia was intending to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh issue with a peaceful resolution together with its international partners, the US and France which have been the peace-broker in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group regarding the long-disputed issue.
The bloc could not have succeeded so far in resolving the two-decades no-territorial dispute due to clashing interests of the parties in the South Caucasus.
"We have been working in line with the agreements in the framework of co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk group with our American and French counterparts. Our contacts with them are permanent, and they contact us regularly, too." Lavrov said.
"I believe the common approach is to move towards results. We shall be able to achieve progress of the kind in near future," he added.
The de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh region declared itself a republic via a plebiscite in 1992 to which only local Armenian population attended, but it was never recognised as a state by the United Nations member states, even by Armenia itself.
Once, the area consisted of ethnically cleansed Azerbaijani population and inhabited by Armenians now, but was also a part of Azerbaijani Socialist Republic during the reign of the Soviet Union in which both countries were constituent states.
Baku demands Yerevan the return of a quarter of its territory which is illegally occupied and recognised as being part of post-Soviet independent Azerbaijan according to international law.
Russia's military and political support has so far kept Armenia defiant against Azerbaijan, despite the fact that Azerbaijan’s military capacity has developed rapidly through the use of its substantial oil and gas revenues.
Armenia is the only South Caucasian member of Russia’s Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) which is regarded as Moscow’s new Warsaw Pact. Yerevan’s membership in the CSTO enables Russia to deploy its 102nd military base in Gymru near the Turkish border.