BAKU—The Co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group issued a statement Monday following their visit to the region and urged Baku to avoid “further escalation of the conflict.
Below is the text of the announcement.
The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Igor Popov of Russia, Stephane Visconti of France, and Richard Hoagland of the United States of America), together with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, traveled to the region in June. The main purpose of the Co-Chairs’ visit was to discuss the position of the Sides towards the next steps in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process after the trilateral ministerial meeting in Moscow (28 April) as well as the overall situation in the conflict zone.
The Co-Chairs met with Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian in Yerevan (10 June) and with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku (19 June). In both capitals, they also held consultations with the Foreign and Defense Ministers. The Co-Chairs traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh (12 June) to meet with de facto authorities, and visited a number of territories around Nagorno-Karabakh, including the Zangelan, Kubatly, Lachin, and Kelbajar districts. In Baku, they also met with the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In their talks in Baku, the Co-Chairs expressed deep concern over the recent violations of the ceasefire, resulting in casualties on the Line of Contact, on the eve of their visit to Azerbaijan. They appealed to the leadership of Azerbaijan to avoid further escalation. The Co-Chairs are sending the same message to the leadership of Armenia and de facto authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh. They encouraged the Sides to consider measures that would reduce tensions on the Line of Contact and the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In both capitals, the Co-Chairs called upon the parties to re-engage in negotiations on substance, in good faith and with political will. They underscored that this is the only way to bring a lasting peace to the people of the region, who expect and deserve progress in the settlement of the conflict. The Presidents expressed their intention to resume political dialogue in an attempt to find a compromise solution for the most controversial issues of the settlement.
The Co-Chairs will travel to Vienna to brief the members of the Minsk Group on 3 July. They also plan to meet again soon with the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers to discuss modalities of the forthcoming work.
Popov, the Russian co-chairmen told reporters after the meetings in Baku that the OSCE Minsk Group hoped for the continuation of political dialogue between the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs deeply regret the recent escalation at the frontline, Popov said, adding that they discussed this issue with the Azerbaijani president and defense minister.
“We deeply regret repeated ceasefire violations on the eve of our visit to the region. We should do our utmost to avoid re-occurrence of similar cases,” Popov said.
“As a result of the discussions, it can be concluded that the presidents of both countries support the continuation of peace talks,” said Popov.
On Saturday, one day ahead of the co-chairmen’s visit to Baku and on the day that a fourth Artsakh soldier was killed, Armenia’s foreign ministry issued a terse statement, which is presented below.
The absence of an adequate response can be perceived by Azerbaijan as an encouragement for new adventures,” the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
The Ministry today express deepest condolences to the relatives and fellow servicemen of soldiers who fell today and yesterday as a result of flagrant violation of ceasefire by the armed forces of Azerbaijan along the Line of Contact between Artsakh and Azerbaijan.
In their last statement the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs condemned the ceasefire violations identifying Azerbaijan as the first to open fire. It is with such provocations that Baku reacts to this targeted statement thus demonstrating all its disrespect.
On the eve of the Co-Chairs visit the high leadership of Azerbaijan challenges the international community, first and foremost the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group by holding large scale military drills without relevant notification required by the international commitments, continuously violating the 1994-1995 trilateral ceasefire agreements, as well as taking new steps aimed at the escalation of situation. The absence of an adequate response can be perceived by Azerbaijan as an encouragement for new adventurism.
It is obvious that Baku failed to move the peaceful settlement process through its desired path and now it tries to create an illusion of gaining an advantage on the frontline, which is also doomed to failure and fraught with unpredictable consequences, primarily to the side initiating escalation of situation.