OSCE MG urges Karabakh conflict sides to reduce tensions

18:17   19 June 2017    1982

The OSCE Minsk Group (MG) encourages the sides of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to consider measures that would reduce tensions on the line of contact and the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, says a statement by the OSCE MG co-chairs, issued June 19.

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, says the statement.

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 (April 28), as well as the overall situation in the conflict zone, according to the statement.

The co-chairs met with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in Yerevan on June 10 and with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Baku on June 19, as well as held consultations with the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers, says the statement.

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 conflict sides to avoid further escalation, says the statement.

“In both capitals, the co-chairs called upon the parties to re-engage in negotiations on substance, in good faith and with political will,” according to the statement. “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 July 3, says the statement. They also plan to meet again soon with the Azerbaijani and Armenian foreign ministers to discuss modalities of the forthcoming work.

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.

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