Of course, the Azerbaijani community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region is an integral part of any proposed plan to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Leyla Abdullayeva told Trend.

Abdullayeva was commenting on the statement made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a press conference in Yerevan.

“As we have always noted, I want to stress once again that only the return of Azerbaijanis expelled from this region to their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh can open up real possibilities for resolving the conflict within the borders of Azerbaijan on the basis of high-level self-government status, which provides for the coexistence of both communities in the region – Azerbaijani and Armenian, in peace and security.

For this, first of all, substantive negotiations should be held to resolve the conflict, and the Armenian occupying forces should leave Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan,” she said.

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, 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 Nagorno Karabakh and the surrounding districts.