Official Stepanakert on Tuesday welcomed a meeting between foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Elmar Mammadyarov, in Moscow, where the two put forth a set of proposals that are aimed to reduce tensions along the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border.
Artskakh presidential spokesperson David Babayan told Armenpress that while Stepanakert welcomed and is positively assesses the meeting, some of the proposals that were discussed by Mnatsakanyan and Mammadyarov were presented by Artsakh officials as efforts to stabilize the region, but were rejected, or never acted upon by Azerbaijan.
“The agreements of this meeting were very interesting. Some of the ideas have been raised by official Stepanakert,” said Babayan. “Nearly 11 years ago official Stepanakert presented a package to the Co-chairs of key steps for the preservation of stability. They were highly assessed by the Co-chairs, but Azerbaijan took no steps. And it’s very interesting and very good that now, these specific ideas have been included in the proposals of the Co-chairs.”
The presidential spokesperson was referring to a proposed set of steps that include withdrawing snipers, avoiding ceasefire violations on holidays, as well as some humanitarian efforts, specifically a proposal to refrain from ceasefire violations during harvest season. He explained that in the past Azerbaijani forces not only opened fire on farmers, but also set fields on fire, destroying crops and threatening the civilian population. He added torching the field also damaged crops on the Azerbaijani side of the border, because winds would carry the blaze to nearby farms.
Babayan also expressed Stepanakert’s willingness to allow relatives of detained persons from both sides to visit them. The spokesperson said that Artsakh will adhere to the proposal, as long as it is reciprocated by Azerbaijan.
“There are only two Azerbaijanis detained on the territory of Artsakh. Both are terrorists and criminals. They are the members of the criminal group that penetrated into the territory of Artsakh years ago and killed people. But those people have the opportunity to have contact with their relatives periodically via Skype or other means. If it’s reciprocal, Artsakh is ready. We have nothing to be afraid of or hiding,” said Babayan.
“We have always welcomed these meetings underscoring their importance in terms of ensuring peace and stability in the region and the continuation of the negotiation process,” said Babayan who added that Stepanakert was encouraged but skeptical given Azerbaijan’s past record of not adhering to proposed agreements.