OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs offered several proposals for measures to enhance confidence in different fields between sides of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during their visit to the region on October 21-24, says a statement issued by the co-chairs on Monday.
During the visit the co-chairs stressed to the sides the need to improve significantly the atmosphere of negotiations, increase trust, and strengthen implementation of the ceasefire to allow further progress toward reaching a peaceful settlement, read the statement.
According to the statement, the sides agreed in principle on the draft mechanism to investigate incidents along the front lines that the co-chairs proposed in April, and which Presidents Ilham Aliyev, Serzh Sargsyan, and Dmitry Medvedev agreed to pursue in their March joint statement in Sochi.
During their visit OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs (Bernard Fassier of France, Robert Bradtke of the United States, and Igor Popov of the Russian Federation) and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk traveled to Yerevan, Baku and the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. The Co-Chairs met with Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, and with the separatist leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The co-chairs also met separately with Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, and with Caucasian Muslims Clerical Office Chairman Sheykhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade, to discuss the necessity of preparing the populations for a just, lasting, and peaceful settlement, read the statement.
On October 22, the co-chairs crossed the Line of Contact by foot for the fourth time in the past fourteen months.
“This crossing highlighted again that the Line is not a permanent barrier between neighboring peoples, and demonstrated that military coordination is possible when all the sides are willing”, co-chairs said in the statement.
The co-chairs will return to the region in late November to continue their work with the sides to develop the measures described above and to determine next steps to pave the way for future meetings between the sides.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and 7 surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994.
The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France, and the U.S. – are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council’s four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.