§ Mr. Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments about the situation in Nagorno Karabakh; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
The British Government are playing a full part in encouraging the international community to promote a peaceful settlement. We will continue to urge all involved in the dispute to settle this matter in accordance with international law and with full respect for human rights and conference on security and co-operation in Europe—CSCE—principles. However, the roots of the dispute in Nagorno Karabakh are deep and a lasting peace will not be achieved easily.
We have raised with our European Community, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and CSCE partners our concern at the deteriorating situation. The Portuguese ambassador in Moscow, acting on behalf of the Twelve European Community Governments, made a demarche on 20 January to the representatives in Moscow of Armenia and Azerbaijan and to the Russian Foreign Ministry calling on all concerned to work towards a peaceful settlement of this dispute.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs reiterated this point in a recent telephone conversation with the Armenian Foreign Minister, Mr. Hovanissian, and in Moscow last month he used the opportunity of his meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister to encourage the Russians to do what they could to help find a solution to the dispute.
In response to a British proposal, the CSCE Council of Ministers agreed on 31 January to send a mission to Armenia and Azerbaijan, including Nagorno Karabakh, to report on the situation. The team, which included a British representative, visited the region from 12 to 18 February. Its report and recommendations are being considered by the CSCE's committee of senior officials in Prague. CSCE countries will then consider how to carry the process forward using CSCE mechanisms.
We welcome the agreement to call for a ceasefire and to set up working groups which was announced after the trilateral meeting with representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan convened by the Russian Foreign Minister on 20 February. However, since then there have been further reports of casualties in clashes in Nagorno Karabakh. There is a clear risk of a further deterioration in the situation. It is therefore important that the agreement reached in Moscow be backed up by immediate concrete action to prevent further tragic deaths.