YEREVAN, November 4. / ARKA /. Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev has agreed to have a meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Russian co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Igor Popov, said today in Baku.
“The next meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents is expected to take place this year," Popov was quoted as saying by Novosti- Azerbaijan news agency.
He said this was one of the issues he discussed at today's meeting with the president of Azerbaijan. He said the co-Chairs will travel to Yerevan today to discuss this issue with the president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan. He said after the Yerevan meeting the peace brokers will release an official statement.
“We hope that the meeting of the two presidents could take place before the end of this year ", he added.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh broke out in 1988 after the predominantly Armenian-populated enclave declared about secession from Azerbaijan. As Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union and removed the powers held by the enclave's government, the Armenian majority voted in 1991, December 10, to secede from Azerbaijan and in the process proclaimed the enclave the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Full-scale fighting, initiated by Azerbaijan, erupted in the late winter of 1992. International mediation by several groups including Europe's OSCE’s failed to bring an end resolution that both sides could work with. In the spring of 1993, Armenian forces captured regions outside the enclave itself. By the end of the war in 1994, the Armenians were in full control of most of the enclave and also held and currently control seven regions beyond the administrative borders of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Almost 1 million people on both sides have been displaced as a result of the conflict. A Russian- -brokered ceasefire was signed in May 1994 and peace talks, mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, have been held ever since by Armenia and Azerbaijan. -0-