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Thousands in Azerbaijan Protest

December 22, 2001

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) _ Thousands of demonstrators protested against Armenian control of the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh on Saturday, and called for Azerbaijan’s President Geidar Aliev to resign over the unresolved issue.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, has been under control of ethnic Armenian forces since the end of a 1988-94 war that left more than 30,000 people dead and drove 1 million people from their homes

Speakers at the demonstration called for Azerbaijan to use military force if necessary to regain control of the region. Azerbaijani soldiers and Nagorno-Karabakh forces face off across a no man’s land around the enclave, and small shooting incidents break out sporadically.

Aliev and Armenian President Robert Kocharian have met repeatedly to try resolving the conflict, and international mediators this year said there were strong signs that an agreement was close.

But the peace process has gone dormant in recent months, and observers speculate that reflects unwillingness among the two countries’ general populations to accept compromises necessary for a peace deal.

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