BASEL, Switzerland—The downing of an Artsakh Armed Forces military helicopter by Azerbaijan on November 12 was “an avoidable tragedy,” according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry, who issued an announcement Thursday, which was also co-signed by France’s European Affairs Secretary Harlem Desir.
The announcement by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing country leaders underscored the importance of steps that they believe must be taken by Armenia and Azerbaijan to reduce tensions, restore trust and avoid future incidents.
“The November 12 downing of a military helicopter along the Line of Contact was an avoidable tragedy that underscored the importance of measures by the sides to reduce tensions, restore trust, and avoid future incidents. We appeal to all sides to demonstrate restraint to prevent further escalation. We also call on them to settle humanitarian issues in the spirit of the Astrakhan statement of October 2010 of the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation,” said the statement, which was issued in conjunction to an OSCE Ministerial Summit in the Swiss city.
The leaders of Russia, the US and France, known as the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minks Group co-chairing countries, said that they “remain strongly committed to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. There is no military solution, and we call on the sides to refrain from violence and work actively towards a lasting settlement.”
“We regret the upsurge in violence in the past year along the line of contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The sides must take additional actions to reinforce the ceasefire of 1994 and create a more favorable atmosphere for advancing peace talks,” the statement added.
They stressed that the three meetings between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2014 have revitalized the most important channel of communication between the sides.
“We welcome the agreement by the Presidents in Paris to intensify dialogue in the coming year. It is time for the sides to overcome disagreements, restore confidence, and honor their commitment to enter into a negotiating process that can result in a settlement. They are expected to acknowledge that the basis for a comprehensive settlement are the elements and principles outlined in the joint statements by the Presidents of Russia, the United States, and France, especially those that were discussed during the last summit in Paris”, the statement reads.
The Heads of Delegations noted that negotiations on a comprehensive peace agreement under the auspices of the Co-Chair countries should begin as soon as possible.
“We remain ready to work closely with the sides to reach a lasting settlement and open a new chapter of peace, but stress that the primary responsibility to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict rests with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan”, the statement reads.
Nalbandian Meets with Minsk Group Co-Chairs
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, Igor Popov, James Warlick and Pierre Andrieu, and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Andrzej Kasprzyk on the sidelines of an OSCE Ministerial summit in Basel, Switzerland.
The Armenian Foreign Minister drew the attention of the mediators to the increased military rhetoric in Azerbaijan, the statements distorting the essence and content of the negotiations, the gross ceasefire violations at the Armenian border and the line of contact with Nagorno-Karabakh, which has resulted in loss of lives, and heightened tensions following the downing of the Artsakh military helicopter.
During the meeting the parties continued discussions on the opportunities of furthering the process of peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Nalbandian reiterated Armenia’s commitment to continue the efforts in cooperation with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs towards the peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict.