Azerbaijan lifts ban on Western Union, MoneyGram
BAKU Aug 14 (Reuters) - The central bank of Azerbaijan on Thursday renewed clearance for money transfers through Western Union (WU.N) and MoneyGram (MGI.N) after cutting them off last month in protest at transfers to a breakaway Azeri region.
The volatile region of Nagorno-Karabakh has had de facto autonomy from Azerbaijan since 1988, but has never been internationally recognised as an independent state. An ethnic conflict over the region took some 35,000 lives in the 1990s.
"Western Union and MoneyGram... have stopped money transfer operations to Nagorno Karabakh," the central bank said in a statement.
"In connection with this, the bank has allowed banks on the country's territory to continue business relations with Western Union and MoneyGram," the central bank said.
Western Union said it could not immediately comment, and MoneyGram International could not be reached.
The ban on relations with these companies, which have worked in Azerbaijan since the mid-1990s, had been in force since July 30.
The secession of Nagorno-Karabakh from the Azeri Soviet Socialist Republic led to a war in the region between 1992 and 1994, ruining relations between Azerbaijan and neighbouring Armenia.
Since the ceasefire was reached in May of 1994, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has been trying to broker a permanent resolution to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, but the two sides have yet to reach an agreement. (Reporting by Lada Yevgrashina, writing by Simon Shuster; editing by Toby Chopra)
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