YEREVAN—The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is seriously concerned by the downing of an Artsakh helicopter by Azerbaijani armed forces, Armenpress reports. Ban Ki-Moon urged the sides to refrain from any actions likely to lead to further escalation of the situation on the ground, and to fulfill their repeated commitments to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Farhan Haq, the Deputy Spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, told journalists about Ban’s comments at a briefing held on Thursday.
Among other things, the spokesperson underscored: “The Secretary-General shares the very serious concerns expressed by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and other international partners regarding the ceasefire breach on 12 November 2014 along the Line of Contact, including the shooting down of a military helicopter and resulting casualties among the crew members.
“He reiterates his previous call on all parties to fully respect and adhere to the ceasefire agreement. The Secretary-General also urges all sides to refrain from any actions likely to lead to further escalation of the situation on the ground, and to fulfill their repeated commitments to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” Haq said.
The UK Embassy in Armenia also released a statement expressing concern over Wednesday’s incident. “The UK strongly supports the important statement of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, expressing concern about the downing of a helicopter near the Line of Contact and appealing to the sides to avoid steps that would escalate tension along the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border,” the statement said.
“We join with them and the rest of the international community in regretting the loss of lives and express our condolences to the families; we urge both sides to respect the ceasefire and work towards peace,” the statement read.
French Ambassador to Armenia Jean-François Charpentier offered condolences over the shooting downing of the Armenian helicopter.
“Unfortunately, this incident shows once again how long and hard the route of settlement of the Karabakh conflict is. As French Ambassador to Armenia, I can only wish that the parties refrain from any expression of tension and provocation and return to the dynamics of the dialogue that started at the meetings in Sochi, Newport and Paris with the mediation of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs,” the Ambassador said.
“The implementation of confidence-building measures is necessary more than ever,” he said.
On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the US State Department, and NATO all reacted to the incident, similarly echoing the OSCE’s statement urging for abstention from escalated violence.
On Friday, Armenia’s Permanent Representative at the OSCE, Ambassador Arman Kirakosyan, delivered a speech to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna in response to Wednesday’s incident, Armenpress reports.
Ambassador Kirakosyan told the OSCE that Armenia highly appreciated the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs’ efforts over the last three months – including the organization of Armenian-Azerbaijani presidential meetings in Sochi, Newport and Paris.
Ambassador Kirakosyan strongly condemned the downing of the Nagorno Karabakh helicopter as one more act of provocation aimed at escalating tensions and derailing the negotiation process.
“By violating the ceasefire and using violence, official Baku is ignoring calls by the Minsk Group and the international community for strengthening the ceasefire and confidence-building,” Kirakosyan said. “Thus, Azerbaijan bears the responsibility for escalating tensions.”
Kirakosyan expressed the Armenian government’s concerns over the increased violations of the ceasefire and continuing infiltrations, as well as the shooting of civilians and the use of heavy weapons by Azerbaijan.
Noting that every single death deepens the distrust between the two peoples, Ambassador Kirakosyan called upon the Azerbaijani side to accept the OSCE Minsk Group’s proposed confidence-strengthening measures, including reinforcing the ceasefire, establishing an investigation mechanism for violations, and withdrawing snipers from the Line of Contact.
The ambassador added that the Azerbaijani government’s refusal of confidence-building measures and its continuing persecutions against civil society at home demonstrate the country’s desire to rule out humanitarian contact.
Kirakosyan emphasized that the Armenian side relies on the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the conflict settlement process, respecting the Nagorno Karabakh people’s right to self-determination.