YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—The OSCE Chairman in Office, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, while on a visit to Armenia, called on all parties to refrain from the use of force and urged the sides to immediately withdraw snipers from borders.
“In order to make progress towards resolving this long-standing conflict, the sides should further advance their work on the general principles of a resolution, remove snipers from the line of contact, agree on a mechanism for investigating incidents on the frontlines and find ways to implement the recent agreement by the Presidents to develop people-to-people contacts,” said Gilmore, emphasizing the need for confidence-building measures. The Irish official was speaking at a press conference following a meeting Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian.
“I strongly condemn the recent violent incidents. This conflict will not be resolved by the use of force. The cycle of violence must stop,” said Gimore. “This is the same message I will deliver in Azerbaijan on Thursday. The time has come to build trust; this requires will and commitment on the part of all those involved to seek peace.”
“We in Ireland know all too well the devastating cost of conflict. And we know how hard it is to resolve such situations,” he said recalling the Northern Ireland peace process. “From our experience it is essential to have a clear and determined policy not to yield to violence or the temptation to retaliate. Courage, perseverance and meaningful engagement are called for.”
The Chairperson stressed his support for the mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs: “The OSCE can help to bridge differences between countries and between peoples. We can provide a forum for dialogue and support the sides to strengthen the ceasefire and find a negotiated solution.”
Nalbandian Calls Davutoglu Remarks ‘Racist’
After three days of Azeri incursion attempted at breaching the lines of contact resulted in the deaths of three Armenian, one Karabakh and five Azeri soldiers, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu made a statement, in which he expressed his concern for the loss of Azeri soldiers.
In response to a reporter’s question about Armenia’s reaction to this statement Nalbandian said that Davutoglu’s statement seemed to imply that he was only concerned about the loss of life on the Azeri side, adding that Turkish Foreign Minister’s statements sounded “racist.”
“We have never heard him being concerned about the killings of Armenian soldiers as a result of aggression from the Azeri side. While the international community condemns the bloody incidents and urges the sides to refrain from the use of force, these sort of statements by Turkey in fact encourage Azeris to continue their aggression,” emphasized Nalbandian.
“While Azerbaijan is not only not reacting, but is continuously rejecting the Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ proposals on the withdrawal of snipers from the line of contact, the consolidation of ceasefire, the creation of investigation mechanisms of the violations of ceasefire, the Turkish side is attempting to shift this responsibility from Azerbaijan to others. The Turkish side is pretending as if it is unaware as to who is responsible for any lack of progress in Kazan on reaching an agreement of the basic principles,” responded Nalbandian.
“Twenty years ago Armenia did not oppose Turkey’s inclusion as a member of the Minsk Group, because some countries expected that Turkey would be unbiased and would have its input in the peaceful resolution of the conflict. The past 20 years have shown that Turkey is not only biased, but through its posturing harms the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. Thus, a question arises: Does such behavior by Turkey warrant a membership in the Minsk Group?,” added Nalbandian.
“Armenia has always stood for the creation of mechanisms for investigations of border incidents, and, unlike Azerbaijan, when we agree to something, we do not backtrack the following day,” said Nalbandian.
“I want to recall that relevant elements for the establishment of mechanisms are included in the statements made by the presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan in March 2011 and January 2012 in Sochi. We respect those agreements and we support the creation of the mechanisms,” explained Nalbandian.
OSCE Chairman Meets with Bako Sahakian
Foreign Minister Gilmore also held a meeting with the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Bako Sahakian in Yerevan.
After discussing the recent developments regarding the Karabakh conflict, Sahakian reinforced that it would be impossible to arrive at a comprehensive resolution for the conflict with the direct participation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the negotiations.
Sahakian reiterated official Stepanakert’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict within the OSCE Minsk Group-mediate format, but pointed out that Azerbaijan’s continued use of force and anti-Armenian policies significantly hinder the resolution process and urged the international community to appropriately condemn Azerbaijan.
He also emphasized the need for Gilmore to visit the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.