Exercises by the army of the self-declared republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (file photo) (Photolur)
May 30, 2006 -- Armenian officials are refusing to attend an upcoming meeting of defense ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in neighboring Azerbaijan.
A spokesman for Armenia's Defense Ministry says Azerbaijani officials cannot guarantee their safety.
Fourteen years after a cease-fire was agreed, Azerbaijan and Armenia remain at loggerheads about the final status of the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been ruled by ethnic Armenians since a separatist war in the early 1990s.
The meeting of CIS ministers begins on May 31.
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In February 1988, the local assembly in Stepanakert, the local capital of the Azerbaijani region of NAGORNO-KARABAKH, passed a resolution calling for unification of the predominantly ethnic-Armenian region with Armenia. There were reports of violence against local Azeris, followed by attacks against Armenians in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgait. In 1991-92, Azerbaijani forces launched an offensive against separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, but the Armenians counterattacked and by 1993-94 had seized almost all of the region, as well as vast areas around it. About 600,000 Azeris were displaced and as many as 25,000 people were killed before a Russian-brokered cease-fire was imposed in May 1994.
CHRONOLOGY: For an annotated timeline of the fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh in 1988-94 and the long search for a permanent settlement to the conflict, click here.
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