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Baku Slams Armenian PM Over Nagorno-Karabakh Remark In Moscow

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian meets Russian-Armenian businessmen in Moscow on September 8.

Baku has criticized Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian over his latest statement concerning the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region disputed by Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Hikmat Haciyev said on September 9 that Pashinian's remarks at a meeting with ethnic Armenian businessmen in Moscow could damage international efforts to resolve the decades-old dispute over the region.

Pashinian said at the meeting a day earlier that he saw Nagorno-Karabakh as "part of Armenia" in the future.

"The path toward this status may consist of more steps than one. It may consist of two or three steps, but our vision of the future is definitely this. And there can be no doubt about that," Pashinian said.

Haciyev accused Armenia's leadership of stoking tensions ahead of a planned meeting between the two countries' foreign ministers at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.

"We would like to reiterate that Armenia and its leadership bear all responsibility for escalation of [the] situation with such incendiary statements," Haciyev said on Twitter.

Nagorno-Karabakh, which is populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, declared independence from Azerbaijan amid a 1988-94 war that claimed an estimated 30,000 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Since 1994, it has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces that Baku says include troops supplied by Armenia. The region's claim to independence has not been recognized by any country.

Internationally mediated negotiations involving the OSCE's Minsk Group helped forge a cease-fire in the region, which is not always honored, but have failed to produce a lasting settlement of the conflict.

Based on reporting by Heghine Buniatian of RFE/RL's Armenian Service