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Moscow says constitutional referendum won't settle Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Russia does not believe that peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh may depend on holding a constitutional referendum in the region disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The constitutional referendum is scheduled to take place in Nagorno-Karabakh on February 20.

"We do not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state," the ministry's information and press department said. "We consider that its status should be determined through political talks in the framework of the Minsk process."

"We do not believe that peaceful settlement could depend on holding the above mentioned 'constitutional referendum,'" the ministry said.

On February 14, Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry called the plans to hold the referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh a provocative step and a blatant violation of norms and principles of international law. Such a referendum cannot be legally binding, it said.

Baku called on the international community to hinder the referendum and exert political and diplomatic pressure on Armenia "for its constructive participation in settling the Karabakh conflict and meeting international commitments."

Nagorno-Karabakh sought independence from Azerbaijan at the end of the 1980s, which resulted in a war between Azerbaijan and Armenia that claimed the lives of 25,000-30,000 people between 1988 and 1994. Since then, the territory has been controlled by Armenia.

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 17Feb17]

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