VIENNA, WASHINGTON—In the aftermath of Wednesday’s downing of an Artsakh Army helicopter by Azerbaijani forces, the OSCE Minks Group Co-chairmen issued an announcement expressing “serious concern” about the incident but, once again, failing to condemn Azerbaijan for its aggression.
“The Minsk Group Co-Chairs (Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States, and Pierre Andrieu of France) express our very serious concern about the downing of a helicopter near the Line of Contact and the recent violence. We regret the loss of life and express our condolences to the families,” said the Minsk Group statement.
“The Co-Chairs are deeply worried by the events that prompted this drastic incident, the first of its kind since the ceasefire agreement was reached. We strongly appeal to the sides to avoid steps that would escalate tension along the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The region cannot afford another round of violence like we witnessed this summer. Today’s events remind us of the volatility of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the urgency to intensify efforts to find a lasting settlement. We remain resolved to assist the sides in any way possible,” added the statement.
“We remind the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan of their responsibilities to respect the ceasefire and honor the commitments they made in Sochi, Newport, and Paris to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We also encourage them to adopt confidence-building measures now that would increase transparency along the Line of Contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, and reduce the likelihood of events like today’s incident,” concluded the statement.
At around 1:45 p.m. local time, Azerbaijani forces shot an Mi-24 military helicopter belonging to the Artsakh Armed Forces, killing three servicemen. The helicopter was on a training mission and according to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Defense Ministry was unarmed.
Baku claimed that the helicopter shot at Azerbaijani positions in Aghdam on the border of Artsakh and Azerbaijan. The allegation was dismissed by the Karabakh authorities, who added that after shooting down the helicopter, the Azerbaijani forces continued the shelling of Karabakh positions throughout the afternoon.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation Western US Central Committee has condemned this latest attack by Azerbaijan and is urging the international community to take appropriate measures to condemn Azerbaijan and its continued military aggression.
“While the Minsk Group Co-Chairs appear to appreciate the gravity of Azerbaijan’s aggression – as reflected in their welcome expression of ‘serious concern’ over Baku’s fatal attack on this helicopter, the OSCE’s public response once again falls back into the deeply flawed pattern of placing equal blame on both sides for hostility that all the world knows is being directed by one man – Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
The ANCA also urged the White House to condemn the attack on the unarmed helicopter.
“The Obama Administration must forcefully condemn Azerbaijan’s downing of an unarmed helicopter flying over Nagorno Karabakh, cut off all military aid to Baku and scale back bilateral contacts until President Aliyev ceases his aggression against Artsakh and Armenia. Our White House needs to give up on the long-ago discredited idea that there is some sort of parity between the parties. The facts are clear, and should guide U.S. policy: Artsakh is a democracy offering its hand in peace; Azerbaijan is a dictatorship escalating its anti-Armenian aggression. America should stand on the side of peace and democracy,” said Hamparian.
The ANCA has initiated a video call to action to secure additional statements from Congress in this regard. Watch the ANCA video.
Congressional reaction to Wednesday’s attack, which claimed the lives of three Artsakh servicemen has begun to pour in.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a statement: “The apparent shootdown of an unarmed helicopter over the territory of the NKR, demonstrates Azerbaijan’s callous disregard for human life and its willingness to engage in provocative acts of violence to distract from its domestic problems,” said Rep. Adam Schiff. “This horrendous conduct threatens to destabilize the entire region.”
The European Union also weighed in on the attack, urging “restraint” by the sides and failing to condemn Azerbaijan for its military aggression.
“Following reports of a cease-fire breach on 12 November 2014 along the Line of Contact, in which a military helicopter is reported to have been shot down, it is essential that all sides show restraint and avoid any actions or statements which could escalate the situation. Furthermore, we call for an investigation into this incident,” said a statement by the EU.
“The European Union reiterates its full support to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and the three Co-Chairs. Both sides have to strictly respect the ceasefire, to refrain from the use of force or any threat thereof, and to resume efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” continued the EU statement.